Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William S. Kurz

Second Advisor

Richard Edwards

Third Advisor

Julian Hills

Fourth Advisor

Sharon Pace-Jeansonne

Fifth Advisor

John J. Schmitt


This dissertation advances the thesis that the story of Elijah and the restoration of the widow's son (3 Kgdms 17:17-24) serves as hermeneutical key to the narrative of the reservation and restoration of rain (3 Kgdms 17-18). More particularly, it is the story's core imagery of death turned into life in response to the widow's care for Elijah that serves this interpretive role. Generated by an historical critical approach to the text, classical readings of 3 Kgdms 17-18 focus on the text as a witness to the problem of religious syncretism. This literary approach sees the treatment of the Lord's prophet as the engine which drives the story as story. Section I studies the structure and dynamics of 3 Kgdms 17-24. This analysis affirms and extends prior work done on the story's chiastic structure. It argues also for a shift in focus from the story's concluding affirmation of Elijah as "man of God," to its core imagery of the restoration of the son in response to the widow's hospitality to Elijah as the story's basic point. Section II assesses 3 Kgdms 17-18 as two major interacting story lines: (1) a main plot line story (17:1; 18:17-46) of prophetic intervention at a time of high crisis centered on relationship to the prophet as key to relationship to the Lord; (2) a sub-plot line story (17:2-18:16) of Elijah's side-trip centered on the treatment of the prophet of the Lord as a matter of life and death because it is the test of fidelity to the Lord. The two plot lines relate in such a way that the side-trip story serves as an interpretive narrative excursus from the main plot line functioning to identify the ground and goal of the intervention as centered on the treatment of the Lord's prophet. The dissertation concludes with a return look at the story of Elijah and the widow's son and its relationship to 3 Kgdms 17-18. Situated at the center of an exquisitely balanced structure and dynamics of reversal, our story's function is to display the key to the restoration of relationship with the Lord. Heed the prophet of the Lord, it proclaims, it is a matter of life and death!



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