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The Hebrew Bible depicts interpretation as a continual process of losing and finding, of forgetting and remembering. Texts are lost and found, and in the Joseph story (Gen. 37–50), Joseph himself is abandoned and recovered, with all memory of him repressed until it is dramatically recalled. His story demonstrates that repression is the condition of interpretation, and that interpretation—not resurrection—holds forth the promise of a future life. Nonetheless, the repeated losses that punctuate the Joseph narrative have inspired the opposite conclusion: that Joseph is a type of Jesus, that his descents and ascents prefigure the final one. Typology, a mode of biblical interpretation that prevailed during the early church, has enjoyed a recent revival in the context of literary studies; but I argue that the typological language of “fulfillment,” of shadows and truth, is alien to Hebraic—and postmodern—understandings of textuality.
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