The Portrait of Isaac in Genesis 27: Between Synchronic and Diachronic Readings of Patriarch’s Character

Anna Rozonoer

Hellenic College, Boston, MA , United States


Modern critical reception characterizes patriarch Isaac as a particular character type: the schle­miel. This article provides a tour through the cumulative evidence for this comedic read, focusing on Genesis 27, the blessing of Jacob. It provides a revised narratological and literary context, arguing that Isaac’s fivefold questioning demonstrates not confusion, but awareness: he knows exactly which son is in front of him. The paper presents an alternative narratological and literary context for Isaac, framing his questions in terms of the editing process: a synchronic reading of Isaac’s acumen is corroborated by evidence from diachronic reading. The redaction history of the Isaac material in chapter 26 yields a number of points suggesting the dependence of the Abraham material on the Isaac narrative. A num­ber of features indicate a stronger, less subordinate Isaac figure based on the earlier tradition revealed by a complex transmission history than the image arising from the mainstream synchronic reading of chapter 27 seems to depict.


biblical interpretation, patriarchal narratives, history of reception, Isaac

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Rozonoer, A. (2022). The Portrait of Isaac in Genesis 27: Between Synchronic and Diachronic Readings of Patriarch’s Character. Verbum Vitae, 40(2), 375–385.

Anna Rozonoer
Hellenic College, Boston, MA

Dr. Anna Rozonoer, PhD in Biblical Studies, Hebrew Bible, Boston University, (2014) Independent Scholar; Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hellenic College, Brookline, MA, USA.  
Research interests: The Book of Genesis; Old Testament Wisdom Literature.


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