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The Recovering God of Hosea

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

This paper addresses the question of the character of God as sketched in the poetry of Hosea. It considers the broad and rich spectrum of images and metaphors that are employed to give expression to that divine character in poetic idiom. It is clear that the range and spectrum of metaphors cannot be systematized, but one can nonetheless identify among them usages that bespeak divine judgment, usages that articulate a positive concern, and usages that are neutral or ambiguous. After that survey, the discussion focuses upon the two provocative texts if Hosea 2:2-23 and 11:11-9. Attention is given, in each of these cases, to the movement from judgment to positive possibility. The two governing metaphors of husband-wife and parent-child are taken to be indispensable for a relationship that persists, even in the face of harsh judgment and alienation. The flow of drama in these two texts suggests that YHWH has been an agent of violence, but is "in recovery" from that propensity to violence.

Affiliations: 1: Columbia Theological Seminary, P.O. Box 520, 701 Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA 30031, USA


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