Multivocality in Group Speech in Biblical Narrative

George Savran

Abstract


While group speech in biblical narrative is generally expressed as a single voice, in certain cases the plain sense of the text is improved by discerning a number of different voices at work. While these voices are unmarked, they are clearly sensed in the cases discussed here, and their presence adds significantly to the dramatic force of the text. In addition to the well known case of Saul and the young women at the well in 2 Sam 9:11-13, there are a number of instances in the Joseph story in Genesis 37 and 42 in which the brothers' speeches reflect multiple voices, providing a fuller picture of their disagreements. In Jonah 1:8 the sailors interrogate Jonah in what appears to be a cacophony of voices, and David's return to Jerusalem in 1 Sam 19 is punctuated by verbal disagreements among the Israelites, most noticeably in 2 Sam 19:10-11.

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