The Joseph “novella” (as it is often termed by biblical scholars), occupies the last fourteen chapters of Genesis, chapters 37–50. It is a story that punctuates two generations of family disfunction, and follows Jacob’s beloved son Joseph through years of tragedy as narrowly he escapes becoming a victim fratricide only to be sold by his brothers into slavery in a strange land.
As if that was not enough, he then finds himself incarcerated for many years for a crime he did not commit. The story of Joseph though does not end with tragedy, but redemption. At the end, the reader finds that Joseph’s life and dreams have purpose, and that not only was the God of his family with him throughout his suffering, but positioned Joseph in such a way that he, his family, and the entire world would be saved by his dreams and talents.
It is no wonder that this story is one with which many incarcerated men identify. This lecture will highlight the way the Joseph story has become an interpretive lens by which many incarcerated men view their own tragic lives, but also how the story offers hope, allowing them to imagine reconciliation with their families and communities, as well as purpose for post-prison lives.