LIVING IN EXILE: A POSTCOLONIAL READING OF THE JACOB CYCLE
ABSTRACT ZACHRY CARL LAUERSDORF LIVING IN EXILE: A POSTCOLONIAL READING OF THE JACOB CYCLE Under the direction of DAVID G. GARBER, Ph.D. The Jacob Cycle of Genesis is one of the most fascinating series of stories from the biblical text. These stories are marked by Jacob’s deceitful nature, life in exile, and eventual return from exile. These stories are also marked by God’s continual protection and blessing of Jacob throughout the stories. These stories have as much to say about God as they do about Jacob. This thesis attempts to connect the stories of Jacob with the Judean experience of the Babylonian Exile, to see how that experience may have shaped these stories. Given that this thesis examines the effects of empire on the biblical text, this study utilizes a postcolonial literary analysis of the Jacob texts and exilic prophetic texts to determine how the Jacob texts bear the scars of the exilic experience. To determine the postcolonial nature of the Jacob texts, this thesis addresses the following questions: (1) How does Jacob’s flight from home and subsequent divine encounter at Bethel reflect a postcolonial worldview?; (2) How is Jacob’s labor in Laban’s household significant with regards to postcolonial thought?; and (3) How do Jacob’s character and personality reflect a postcolonial worldview? The conclusion of this study is that the Jacob texts exhibit a large exilic influence, and the character of Jacob is a hero for the colonized and the exiles. Further studies could examine other texts in the book of Genesis, especially the stories of younger brothers, through a postcolonial lens to see how the theme of exile is present in them.
Lauersdorf, Zachry Carl