Local incoherence, global coherence? Allusion and the readability of ancient Israelite literature

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Abstract

Does a lack of coherence always render a text “unreadable” or “unintelligible”? In this essay, I explore the relationships between three of De Beaugrande and Dressler’s standards of textuality: cohesion, coherence, and intertextuality (considered more narrowly here in the form of allusion). I consider examples of textual allusion that readers have considered surprising, incongruous, or incoherent. I conclude that in some cases, there is reason to believe ancient Israelite writers employed allusion in such a way as to create incongruity and incoherence at local text-segment levels while creating a coherent argument at larger text-segment levels. In these cases, at least, the text is still “readable.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-164
JournalOld Testament Essays
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2021

Keywords

  • Allusions
  • Cohesion
  • Coherence

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