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Irrealis in Biblical Narrative: What Didn't Happen
Download: Irrealis in Biblical Narrative: What Didn't Happen (PDF format; click here to get a free PDF viewer)
About: Narrational irrealis-negative statements telling us the readers what did not happen-is integral to the story contained in the book of Esther. Without telling us what didn't happen, the author would not have been able to tell us what did.
The real point of this paper, and my reason for writing and reading it, was to look at a tiny, apparently insignificant, aspect of biblical stories, and to ask how that kind of information functions within a particular biblical story. I believe that it also demonstrates (as I discovered, not as I intended) that attention to detail can help us read more fully. I was quite surprised to discover that the plot of the book of Esther is largely propelled by negation (both Mordecai's refusal to honour Haman and Esther's ethnic anonymity), so that Mordecai appears as both villain and hero. His refusal to honour Haman threatened his entire race, and led to the deaths of many hundreds of people.
What didn't happen caused what did. Without telling us what didn't happen, the author would not have been able to tell the story.
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