IHEMEKWALA, A. A
This study is based on Change of name in Abia state from the backdrop of aetiological discourse in Genesis 32. The study aims at highlighting the roles played by OT authors, editors and redactors in the smooth packaging of their message by the instrumentality of literary genres. It also aims at showing how the adoption of aetiology in Jacobean narratives especially Genesis 32 require closer study to fathom the intention behind the narrative. The entire effort however, borders on using aetiology as a tool for interpreting Genesis 32 with reference to the recent trend of name change in Abia state. The study revealed that religious leaders and preachers now embark on arbitrary change names of peoples and places in other to attract spiritual and material prosperity. It is a serious development because they use Scriptural passages like Jacobean narrative in Genesis 32 as a yardstick for their claims. They teach that just as Jacob’s name was changed so should anybody who answers Jacob, Job or any other name whose bearer acted in vice. Any name that is indigenous automatically connotes idolatry and merits a change. The problem is that some persons interviewed who received the new names are now confused on whom to trust since, apart from the euphoria of having a new name, they have not experienced the material prosperity. Some families have split into factions and bear different names because some did not agree to change their names. Some communities have been in law court for the same reason of disagreement over names. This kind of result makes religion counter-productive and became the motivation behind this study. A close study shows that Genesis 32 is a deliberate editorial aetiological narrative expression which seeks to explain the origin of certain historical monuments and socio-cultural structures and values which are significant to Israel. Genesis 32 contains four aetiological narratives and Jacob as the key character with peculiar traits. The hallmark of the narrative is the change of name from Jacob (יַעֲקֹב) to Israel (יׅשׂרׇאֵל) which is an aetiological explanation of the origin of the name Israel to a future generation. The preachers who consider this passage as a concrete example for change names take advantage of the traditional belief on the significance of a name in Jewish and Igbo cultures. Their target most often is to create religious impression for economic endowment and popularity. The tools of historical-critical, exegetical and interpretive discourses were deployed in data collection and application, based on Gunkel’s Unity of character’, Blum’s Ancestral lineage’ and Child’s ‘Mythical Aetiology’ theories. This approach was useful to appreciate the significant role of literary forms and redaction ideology in Biblical interpretation. This work therefore, recommends that if names of persons must be changed, it should be for the right reasons. The concept of aetiological genre in Genesis 32 offers the interpretive platform upon which the passage presents its central message. When this is given due consideration and due process followed, the study has nothing against change of name. The researcher suggests that a balanced interpretation and proper application of Biblical texts should influence a more harmonious human society.