|Joseph Sold into Captivity|
By treating the Joseph Narrative as fiction rather than as history, Brueggemann does not lose the value of the stories in it. He makes it possible, rather, to focus on the story itself rather than the actors. The tendency otherwise is to give our attention to the actors and attempt to psychoanalyze them—figure them out. The story, when treated as history, is not important in and of itself but for what it reveals about it characters. If the story is fictional, however, our attention shifts to the author and the story itself. It shifts to a deeper level of meaning in which the story becomes a witness to Israel's faith in the era of Exile when it was likely written. And there is the added value of laying aside the need to defend the Bible's factuality at all points, which so often obscures its deeper meanings and spiritual value by forcing us to worry about superficial issues such as demonstrating that Jonah could survive for three days in the belly of a fish or proving that David really did write the psalms attributed to him in the Book of Psalms.
Equally to the point, the Joseph Narrative is just as historical whether it be treated as literature or as a factual account of actual events. It gives witness to the faith of its author and its times and thus reflects the historical experience of the Jewish people. It is as true spiritually and no less inspired. Treating it as literature, in truth, helps to awake us from the dreamworld of modernity with its narrow understanding of reality and its obsession with factuality.