Since the 1980s, evangelical scholars have greatly benefited from the principles of literary criticism in their exegesis of the Hebrew Bible. However, closural analysis has only received minimal attention. The first analysis of closure in Old Testament narrative was attempted within the last decade.
This concept of “closure” communicates more than an end to a story. It signals the resolution of the plot and leads the reader to reflect back on the contours of the entire story line. “Endings enable an informed definition of a work’s ‘geometry’ and set into motion the process of retrospective rather than speculative thinking necessary to discern it” (Torgovnick, Closure in the Novel, 1981).
In one’s approach to Old Testament narrative, closural analysis may serve as a valuable hermeneutical tool. The examination of closure assures a proper understanding of the clausal layout of the Hebrew text and its discourse markers (Patton and Putnam’s Basics of Hebrew Discourse: A Guide to Working with Hebrew Prose and Poetry, 2019) as well as the functions within the narrative plot structure (Kafalenos’ Narrative Causalities, 2006). Closural analysis of the text requires the reader to identify and reflect on the literary markers that signal an end (Zeelander’s Closure in Biblical Narrative, 2012).
Practicing exegesis with the narrative units of Exodus 3–4, this paper argues that closural analysis guides the reader in discerning rhetorical themes and/or theological messages as they emerge from the biblical text.