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Identifying Inner-Biblical Allusion through Metaphor

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Washing Away Sin in Psalm 51

image of Vetus Testamentum

Commentators have often noted the numerous prophetic allusions contained in Psalm 51. Identifying and evaluating the nature of such inner-biblical allusions, however, is not without difficulty. An additional feature that connects the psalm to the prophets is the concept of washing away sin (Ps 51:4, 9; Isa 1:16; 4:4; Jer 2:22; 4:14), a distinctive metaphor that is found explicitly only in these passages. This paper will evaluate the connection between Psalm 51 and these prophetic passages vis-à-vis a study of the washing metaphor and will utilize the distinctive metaphor as a criterion for identifying and exploring inner-biblical allusion. The analysis of a metaphor that is rare or unusual within the Hebrew Bible has the potential to inform the identification and exploration of inner-biblical connections and can aid in the discussion of dependency and directionality.

Affiliations: 1: Loyola University


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