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image of Biblical Interpretation

Shame is widely discussed both in the literature of psychology (in contradistinction to guilt) and social anthropology (in binary opposition with honour, where it is associated particularly with women and public loss of status). Recently, the honour–shame model has been used as heuristic pattern for analysing biblical texts. The focus has been primarily on the patriarchal narratives and Deuteronomistic history; yet the preponderance of shame vocabulary occurs in the prophetic corpus. Here the model proves to be ill fitting. One reason is that it tends to apply to static societies, whereas insofar as social contexts are implied in the Prophets these tend to be depicted as marked by turmoil and chaos attending the exile. In the absence of discussions using models constructed for the purposes of examining situations of social upheaval (such as revolutions or millenarian eruptions) three new approaches are proposed and discussed with regard to Ezekiel 16. The purpose is to probe their suitability for elucidating this baffling text as well as to redress the paucity of prophetic shame studies. The first examines antilanguages; the second grotesque language and the third, deviance amplification.

Affiliations: 1: University College of St. Martin, Lancaster


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