The opening sector of the book of Exodus is a powerful narrative and a striking example of the artistic qualities of the Pentateuch, a facet of the text that occasionally is neglected in high-level scholarship.
Exodus 1-2 is finely choreographed work that compresses a vast amount of material onto a limited textual canvas, creating a story that appeals to readers of every age. Resuming where the book of Genesis leaves off-the last image of Genesis 50 is a coffin in Egypt, primed for a sequel-the first two chapters of Exodus combine a fast-moving plot with some unique shades of characterization: Israel's growth in Egypt, the rise of a malevolent new king, the birth of a hero and early experiences of adversity for the main character in the story to come. The burden of slavery and miracle of salvation are introduced in this sector of text, and become paradigmatic examples of divine redemption that reverberate throughout the Hebrew Bible and beyond.
An Ark on the Nile: The Beginning of the Book of Exodus is a close-reading of Exodus 1-2 that analyzes the story as a reasonably self-contained unit, but suggesting that major plot movements in the book of Exodus are foreshadowed and anticipated here. Applying a number of insights from literary theory, Keith Bodner offers an illustration of further integration of biblical studies with cross-disciplinary narrative interpretation.