Original Research

Exploring a retrospective narrative in Genesis 45:1–15

Damian O. Odo
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6921 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6921 | © 2021 Damian O. Odo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 June 2021 | Published: 24 November 2021

About the author(s)

Damian O. Odo, Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The text of Genesis 45:1–15 belongs to the composition of Joseph’s narrative. This literary unit has an affinity with Genesis 37 that records the filial crime of Joseph’s brothers against him (Joseph) as they intend to solve their conflict through a heinous act. The literary composition of Genesis 45 has been studied by commentators and scholars of the Old Testament from diverse perspectives. However, none of the scholars have studied the text from the standpoint of a retrospective narrative. A retrospective narrative is a literary technique expressed in a literary construct when a narrator flashes back to a past event, recreates the discourse and brings the episode into the present.

Contribution: This article contributes to scholarship as it argues that the literary unit of Genesis 45:1–15 is encoded in a device of a retrospective narrative. This is found in verses 4–8 of the pericope as the narrator artistically recreates the filial crime of the brothers against Joseph in Genesis 37 when they sold him into slavery.


Genesis 45:1–15; reconciliation; retrospective narrative; forgiveness; Genesis 37; evil act


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