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Connecting the patriarchs : Noah and Abraham in the Old English Exodus.

Anlezark, D. (2005) 'Connecting the patriarchs : Noah and Abraham in the Old English Exodus.', Journal of english and germanic philology., 104 (2). pp. 171-188.


The Old English poem Exodus narrates the flight of Moses and the Israelites from Egyptian captivity, joining the story at the moment the tenth plague strikes the Egyptians and concluding with the Hebrews celebrating the destruction of Pharaoh and his army by the Red Sea. Despite what is at times a highly allusive style, and some omissions from the Biblical narrative, the poem recounts the order of events much as they are presented in chapters 12–15 of the book of Exodus, apart from one point when the poet digresses to tell the story of Noah and the Flood (ll. 362–76) and of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac (ll. 380–46). Their histories are told as the Israelite tribes are about to enter the Red Sea and in the context of a genealogical recollection of their national ancestry (ll. 353b–61), beginning with Noah and leaping the generations to Abraham (ll. 376–79). The suddenness of this departure from the Exodus narrative requires explanation, and critics have generally explained the "digression " in terms of the connection made in Christian theology between events of the patriarchs' lives and the history unfolding at the Red Sea. The Flood and the sacrifice of Isaac were both linked to the exodus in the theology of the early church as major Old Testament events typologically foreshadowing the salvation of the Christian faithful, a connection confirmed by the recollection of these events in the readings of the Easter liturgy, a festival also associated with the sacrament of Baptism.

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Record Created:08 Jun 2007
Last Modified:09 Nov 2011 12:34

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