Towards the end of Genesis, the narrative slows down to tell the story of Joseph. There is no dispute that Joseph’s story is unique, but why does it deserve such focused attention? And how does this story relate to the rest of Genesis?
In Figuring Resurrection, Jeffrey Pulse presents the view that Joseph is a death-and-resurrection figure. A close literary reading of Genesis 37–50 reveals that Joseph’s story is one of rejection and restoration, descent and ascent, condemnation and exaltation, exile and return, death and resurrection. Far from a lengthy diversion, Joseph’s story of “death and resurrection” plays an important role in the theology of Genesis and later Second Temple Jewish literature.
Figuring Resurrection has implications for our understanding of Joseph’s narrative, the book of Genesis, Hebrew thinking on the afterlife, and typology.
In this study of Genesis 37‐50, Dr. Pulse offers a unified reading of the last major section of Genesis, focusing on Joseph. His research into the biblical text as well as extra‐biblical sources relating to it is thorough and careful. Pulse’s argument that Joseph is presented as a figure exemplifying death and resurrection is based on sound and methodical research into the text. His exploration of recent approaches to interpreting the Joseph cycle is exemplary, demonstrating that while his thesis departs in some places from other interpreters, he is conversant with contrasting theories currently pursued by others. Pulse’s holistic evaluation of the text is a welcome breeze amidst the somewhat stale air of past readings that have tended to atomize the text.
–Andrew E. Steinmann, Distinguished Professor of Theology and Hebrew, Concordia University Chicago
Dr. Pulse shows how the hope for the resurrection of the body is prefigured by Joseph and implicit in them. His careful analysis explains how the motif of death and resurrection permeates and informs each stage in Joseph’s life and his life as a whole. He also correlates this motif with other similar motifs, such as descent into Egypt and ascent to the promised land. So in these stories Joseph is not presented as an example for moral instruction but as a figure for God’s gracious purpose for Israel and its coming king.
–John W. Kleinig, Lecturer emeritus and former head of the Biblical Department, Australian Lutheran College, University of Divinity
For those who want a refreshing and rigorous reading of a neglected portion of Genesis, Jeffrey Pulse restores Joseph to us so that even now through his delightful book the bones of Joseph cry out for resurrection.
–Arthur Just, professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary
Through a thick figural reading, Pulse resurrects Joseph from merely an example of Hebrew prose artistry. He shows Joseph's full canonical significance as a death and resurrection figure using multiple sub-motifs that serve the death/resurrection motif.
–Ryan M. Tietz, assistant professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne
When Jesus interpreted to the disciples the things concerning himself in the Scriptures (Lk 24:27) what might he have said about Genesis 37–50? Dr. Pulse opens our eyes to hermeneutical and exegetical possibilities.
–Christopher W. Mitchell, Concordia Commentary Editor, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis, Missouri
“Jacob assumes the sun and the moon refer to him and his wife Rachel, this does not appear to be the correct interpretation. Rachel, Joseph’s mother, has already died (Gen 35:19), and Jacob never bows down to Joseph in these narratives, or even to Pharaoh. All the interpreting has been provided by Joseph’s brothers and father and is most likely incorrect.” (Pages 72–73)
“The hermeneutic for interpretation that I advocate is reading the text of Scripture as a unified theological narrative.” (Page 4)
“but never to Joseph as one who rules over them. Jacob’s interpretation of the second dream is likewise incorrect.” (Page 73)
“death-and-resurrection motif in the Joseph narratives identified and expounded on in this book are” (Page 7)
“of submission but rather the idea of respect, or sometimes fear.” (Page 72)
Studies in Scripture and Biblical Theology is a peer-reviewed series of contemporary monographs exploring key topics and issues in biblical studies and biblical theology from an evangelical perspective.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
Jeffrey Pulse (PhD, University of Durham) is professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He spent more than twenty-two years in parish ministry in churches in Iowa and Washington state.