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Bugs through the looking glass: The infestation of meaning in Joel

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Chapter Summary

When one reads the biblical texts we encounter distortions, smudges, cracks and so forth in the surface of the glass, which itself may be made of several panes. There are redactional seams, words of uncertain meaning, textual difficulties and variations, scribal errors and the like. While all texts reflect the interests and even unconscious predilections of their authors, there need not be a direct relationship between the textual reality and the reality the author is living in. Hence, this chapter seeks to deconstruct the confidence with which scholars have tried to understand the authorial circumstances of Joel. Most interpreters of Joel have argued that at least some of the terrifying imagery of disaster in Joel 1-2 stems from the prophet's response to at least one actual locust infestation. Indeed, Joel 1.4 names four kinds of insects that ravaged the land.

Keywords: Joel; locust infestation; prophet



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