“The Story of Joseph” Story Summary Chart with Text
“The Story of Joseph” Story Summary Chart with Text

The story of Joseph in the Bible can be found in the Book of Genesis, chapters 37 through 50. It is interrupted briefly in chapter 38, but resumes in chapter 39.

People who have read much ancient or medieval heroic literature, such as the Iliad, Beowulf, or the early King Arthur versions will recognize that the story of Joseph, although ancient literature, is written in an almost modern style. The story action is very complicated but it is fast paced, it is very descriptive, and it is lacking the tiresome repetition found in so much of early literature.

As a piece of literature, the story of Joseph is nearly perfect. The story structure is easy to discern: a clear exposition that opens the door into Joseph’s world; the introduction of the conflict; action that rapidly rises in tension; and finally, a magnificent climax as satisfying as the scene on the precipice over Tolkien’s Cracks of Doom. The plot sizzles with jealousy, betrayal, false accusation, unjust imprisonment, and maddening forgetfulness.

As a character, although Joseph is a noble figure, he isn’t so perfect that he is unbelievable. His big mouth and thoughtless words, about his contemptible brothers and about his own implausible dreams, set up the conditions that lead to his conflict and certify his humanity. Finally, even though he is imperfect, he grows and changes to become a powerful man who learns how to use his power and his words wisely and graciously.

The Bible tells one unified story of how God rescues people who are in terrible danger, and “Joseph” is truly one of the most enjoyable parts of the epic!