"By focusing on the forms of religious expression which the sixth-century prophets condemn, we can begin to apprehend the diversity which characterized exilic religion. Moreover, by recognizing the polemical nature of the prophetic critiques and by resolving to read these critiques without prophetic prejudice and instead with a non-judgmental eye, we can place ourselves in a position to re-evaluate the traditional descriptions of the sixth-century cult. Our task, then, is to read anew; our aim is to judge afresh. With this goal in mind, we turn our attention to the major prophetic texts which will comprise our study: Jeremiah 7 and 44, Ezekiel 8, Isaiah 57, and Isaiah 65." - From the Introduction
Using the focal points of temples and their roles in the diagnoses of illnesses and subsequent provision of health care, Hector Avalos breaks new ground in this unique and insightful study on medical care in the ancient world.
Recognizing gendered metaphors as literary and ideological tools that biblical and Assyrian authors used in the representation of warfare and its aftermath, this study compares the gendered literary complexes that authors on both sides of the Israelite-Assyrian encounter developed in order to claim victory. The study begins by identifying and tracing historically the presentation of royal masculinity in Assyrian royal texts and reliefs dating from the 9th through 7th centuries bce. Central to this analysis is the Assyrian representation of warfare as a masculine contest in which the enemy male is discredited as a rival through feminization.
The second part of the study focuses on the biblical authors' responses to the Assyrian incursion and demonstrates that the dominant metaphorical complex for recording and remembering Israel and Judah's military encounters with Assyria was that of Jerusalem as a woman. This section, therefore, traces the evolving canonical biography of Jerusalem-the-Woman as her life story is told and remembered in relationship to Assyria.
In the final section of the book, the contest of royal masculinity described in royal Assyrian texts informs the reading of the redactional history of Judah's memory of Assyria, and the insights gained from the study of a feminized Jerusalem are applied to a rereading of the siege scenes of the Assyrian palace reliefs.
Innovative in its use of gendered language as the basis for historical comparison of biblical and Assyrian texts, this book is the first to offer a comprehensive methodology for defining and assessing the impact of gendered language within texts of historically linked cultures. This book also advances the discussion of what has been called "inner-biblical exegesis" by offering gendered metaphors as a lens through which to trace the evolution of Judean social memory within the biblical text.
Cynthia R. Chapman is a Professor of Religious Studies at Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH.
This study focuses on the four passages in the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 22:22-35, Zechariah 3:1-7, Job 1-2, and 1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1) which use the noun "satan" to refer to a heavenly being. Dr. Day analyzes the etymology and meaning of the noun in detail and then proceeds to examine its specific usage in these passages.
How do we understand the characteristically extensive presence of imagery in biblical prophecy? Poetic metaphor in prophetic writings has commonly been understood solely as an artistic flourish intended to create certain rhetorical effects. It thus appears expendable and unrelated to the core content of the composition—however engaging it may be, aesthetically or otherwise. Job Jindo invites us to reconsider this convention. Applying recent studies in cognitive science, he explores how we can view metaphor as the very essence of poetic prophecy—namely, metaphor as an indispensable mode to communicate prophetic insight. Through a cognitive reading of Jeremiah 1-24, Jindo amply demonstrates the advantage and heuristic ramifications of this approach in biblical studies.
In The Politics of Ritual Change: The zukru Festival in the Political History of Late Bronze Age Emar, John Thames explores the intersection of ritual and politics in ancient Syria. The cuneiform texts describing an elaborate festival called zukru invite the reader to consider the development of the ritual as a result of political influence. This book suggests a new understanding of the relationship between the Hittite Empire and the city of Emar that is best observed through religious texts.
The Hebrew Bible contains varying opinions concerning which cultic items or objects used in worship were appropriate for use within YHWHism and which were not. By analyzing every passage which mentions "high places" (bamot), sacred trees or poles (asherim), standing stones, altars, and cultic statuary, this study reveals that a remarkable diversity of cultic practices fell within the bounds of acceptability in ancient Israel. Also included are three chapters exploring the particular understandings of these items in the LXX, Vulgate, Targumim, and other early Jewish sources. Opposing the long-held generalization that use of these items was unanimously viewed by biblical authors as syncretistic, this study shows that, with the exception of cultic statuary, all of these items were, at one time or another, legitimate components of Israelite worship. Thus they provide witness to a diversity of theologies and ritual practices within YHWHism previously unappreciated.