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Ambivalent images of birth in Psalm vii 15

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image of Vetus Testamentum

In this article Psalm vii 15 is analysed by means of close reading, interaction theories of metaphor and a reader-oriented approach, including Jewish medieval commentaries. The very fabric of Psalm vii 15 is made up of the tension between the constructive image of birth and the destructive aspects of the wicked. The verse does not correspond to the expectations of the reader: e.g. the sequence of stages in the birth process is unusual: labour—pregnancy—birth; the birth process is described with masculine verbs, and it is not clear who the subject is. Ps. vii 15 is an example of the fact that concrete and abstract features often go together in biblical metaphors. The presentation of the enemies' negative features in personified images of birth makes them more drastic. It reduces the possible connotations of birth to its negative aspects. Using birth as a negative image, the text shows something of the ambivalence of birth.


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