Sailhamer, John H. The Pentateuch As Narrative Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
Introduction, “Interpreting the Pentateuch” pp. 1-79
Part F, “Literary Form of Historical Narrative” pp. 25-33
Sailhamer begins by identifying historical narrative in terms of two tasks. First it describes the events and second it reveals an author’s viewpoints. The narrative account has a recognizable structure. It is arranged with both internal structural forms and relationship to a greater body of literature. “General structural elements to look for in every historical narrative are simple but nonetheless important. They include an introduction, a conclusion, sequence, disjuncture, repetition, deletion, description, and dialogue” (Sailhamer 1992, 25). Sailhamer illustrates this analysis using a variety of passages.
On p. 28 Sailhamer turns his attention to some more specific principles used in understanding a narrative like the Pentateuch. First he discusses selectivity. It is important to realize that any account is partial. The author has not given exhaustive information. The second principle Sailhamer brings up he calls “thema and rhema” On p. 30 he defines thema as what the reader would automatically understand, contrasted with rhema which are portions requiring explanation. Finally, Sailhamer discusses “contemporization,” the way an author writes about past events in such a way as to seem current in the author’s own time.