Analyzing the Metatextuality of the Biblical Tradition Literature


The panel discusses and uses an alternative approach for understanding and decoding the literary history of Biblical texts alternative to that used in the philological methods of exegesis (source criticism and redaction criticism). The problems of these methods are well known and discussed since the end of the 20 th century. However, the research that explicitly deals with the literary history does not discuss its methodological basis and the resulting problems. These problems often lead to contradicting results. On the basis of the results of a project about the methodology a discourse analytical concept gives a new perspective for the literary historical questions. Because biblical texts are mostly fragments of ancient discourses the literary history is of utmost importance in order to understand the ancient Israelite culture and religion. During the discourses in which the biblical texts emerged it was presupposed that the intended addressees knew the Vorlagen that were used. In that way the Biblical texts emerged over generations, texts were rewritten and transformed and during all these stages of a text it displays hermeneutical means to persuade the readers of the innovations made. If we take this into account the consideration of the communicative processes during the emergence of the texts provides us with valuable cultural historical information. The literary history of the biblical texts grants an insight into the processes of communication across generations with texts which are not available to the same extent in any other ancient cultural context. Not only the intention of the texts but the ancient reception and the effects they had, become apparent. Thus, it becomes clear how texts were to be understood and how they were understood in ancient contexts.


Raik Heckl, Universität Leipzig

Lars Maskow, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster



Berlin 2017

Call for Papers

Analyzing the Metatextuality of the Biblical Tradition Literature: The Authority of Narrating Contexts

Because biblical texts emerged as parts of ancient discourses and were transmitted as such the 2017 workshop will be based on a discourse analytical approach to the literary history. It follows the current discourse linguistics with its basis in the  views of M. Foucault (with regard to its use see Heckl, Neuanfang und Kontinuität, FAT 104, Tübingen 2016, 6-26).

The panel invites contributors to discuss exemplary texts in which hermeneutical strategies show how the biblical authors tried to persuade their readers to accept their new texts instead of their prestages (Vorlagen). In this first panel of the research unit the focus will be on the question of the authority of narrating contexts, on how texts were given authority against their literary Vorlagen. Examples are attempts to establish the fiction of a particular origin (for instance the alleged author in early pseudepigraphical notes) or to show the superiority of the text against its Vorlagen. Such hermeneutical strategies are accessible because each and every text contains presuppositions to the intended readers. Via these presuppositions it is possible to determine the discourses to which the biblical texts originally belonged. The testimony of texts to which parallel traditions exist (esp. the books of the Chronicles and the books of Samuel and Kings) enables us to understand the specific connections between the hermeneutical strategies and the literary transformations which were their results.

There will be two sessions: one session specifically dealing with metatexuality in narrating contexts and another joint session with the workshop “Metacriticism: On Methodological Problems of Biblical Exegesis”. While the aim of that workshop is a metacriticism from within the classical Source- and Redaction Criticism, the joint session together with the metatextuality workshop and its discourse analytical approach will be an opportunity to reevaluate the models of the emergence of the biblical texts which are mostly undiscussed in the current diachronic analyses of biblical texts.

The Annual Conference 2021
takes place 3-6 August
in Wuppertal. Read more.