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"’… BUT I SAY TO YOU’: Narrative and Theology in Is. 49, 1-6"

Filipe De Bacelar Carrelhas Vaz Pardal, F.M.V.D. (Portugal)

Licentiate in Sacred Theology, with field of specialization in Systematic Theology
Adviser: Fr. Emeterio Chaparro Lillo, C.M.F., S.T.L., Ph.D.


The present work consists of a theological study of Is. 49,1-6 starting from its linguistic and narrative analysis. The motivation for this undertaking has been twofold: first, to take advantage of the great possibilities revealed by literary criticism applied to biblical texts, and second, to do a narrative analysis of a biblical text that is significant for the personal missionary life of the author and his community.

Following the indications of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, which encourages the study of biblical texts on the basis of literary analysis without trying to impose preconceived ideas on the text (Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, 1993, section I. B. 2.), the thesis asserts with conviction that the main theological nuclei of Is.49, 1-6 and the understanding of its message can be clarified by the linguistic and narrative study of the text. From the standpoint that assumes the final form of the text, as a literary unit in itself, this research hopes to find new contexts of its theological meaning beyond the perennial problematic of the Servant of Yahweh on which the research work has been focused since its beginnings.

The narrative analysis that is carried out follows, on the one hand, a quite complete manual by A. Garrido Domínguez, who studies the narrative text in universal literature. The essential elements indicated by specialists in making a narrative analysis of any literary text, have been considered in this thesis: the description of the events, the characters, the narrator, the narrative time and space.

The findings of the narrative study provide different themes for the theological reflection: 1. personal testimony as a vehicle for the transmission of theological content; 2. the presentation of vocation and mission as a process of transformation; 3. the role and meaning of crisis in the mission; 4. the silence of the text on an important event, and its possible theological meaning; 5. the need to experience the inherent precariousness of the human condition; 6. the Word of God and its efficacy; 7. the universal mission.

In the light of the theological reflection, some pastoral indications are offered, with the purpose of inspiring the action of pastoral ministers, especially in times of crisis. The goal is to underline that: 1. the distance between a life in the dark night and a life that is light for others is minimal; 2. there is a crack in everything and that is how the light comes in, and; 3. the personal testimony of life and the Word mutually strengthen the effectiveness of both.

The study reveals the multiple connections between morphosyntax, narrative analysis and theological conclusions, and how these elements are deeply intertwined.

The title ―…But I say to you” can have God as its subject (addressing the troubled human designs), but also the believer who gives voice to the experience of those who feel weary and have the impression of exhausting their strength in vain. The same happens at the beginning of the passage (cf. Is.49,1a-1b): it is not immediately clear who is speaking. It seems that it is God, but then the reader realizes that it is a human character who addresses the nations. The divine and human voices blend together interchangeably in unison. Both the broken and the holy are necessary for that blaze of light.

Final Defense:

December 12, 2022 (Monday), 3:00 pm, online

Fr. Emeterio Chaparro Lillo, C.M.F., S.T.L., Ph.D. (Adviser), Abigail Teh, Ph.D. (Second Reader and Principal Examiner), and Ma. Maricel Ibita, Ph.D., S.Th.D.

Proposal Defense:

Date of Proposal:28 May 2021, Friday

Board of Examiners: Fr. Emeterio Chaparro Lillo, C.M.F., S.T.L., Ph.D.(Adviser), Abigail Teh, Ph.D. and Ma.Maricel Ibita, Ph.D., S.Th.D.

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Loyola School of Theology