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Metaphor and Masculinity in Hosea


Susan E. Haddox

The metaphors in Hosea are rich and varied, comprising both gendered and non-gendered image fields. This book examines the use of metaphor in Hosea through the lens of masculinity studies, which provides a means to elucidate connections between the images and to analyze their cumulative rhetorical effect. The rhetoric of both the gendered and non-gendered imagery is analyzed using a model from cognitive anthropology, which divides social space along three axes: activity, potency, and goodness. People use metaphors to position and to move one another within this space. These axes reveal how the metaphors in Hosea rhetorically relate the audience, represented by Ephraim/Israel, and YHWH to a particular construction of masculinity. Hosea uses the imagery of Assyrian treaty curses to reinforce YHWH’s masculinity and dominance, while undermining the masculinity of the audience. The rhetoric of the text attempts to bring the audience into an appropriately subordinate position with respect to YHWH and to shape its members’ actions and attitudes accordingly.


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1 Introduction and History of Interpretation 1


CHAPTER ONE Introduction and History of Interpretation Introduction osea is a book by men and for men. It employs a vast number of images and metaphors to address political, religious, economic, and military concerns, which in the society of ancient Israel were predominantly male concerns. Female imagery, despite the fact that it has drawn the focus of the majority of scholarship on the book, makes up only a small part of the text. After the first three chapters, male im- agery predominates, but the male viewpoint prevails even with the fe- male imagery. Although much recent scholarship has wrestled with the implications of the text for women, its implications for men, either an- cient or contemporary, have not been systematically examined. The tools for such an analysis have become available as the field of masculinity studies has emerged. In masculinity studies, as with feminist criticism, gender is not taken for granted, but is analyzed as a social con- struct. Social status and the distribution of power are often closely in- tertwined with particular forms of masculinity. Thus, examination of how masculinity is conceived and valued, and, in particular, the ways in which it governs relations between men and between men and women, reveals much about the organization of society. Because Hosea is a text and not a living society, it is possible to approach the issue of its con- struction of gender only through language, which in Hosea is largely fig- urative. The ways in which cultures use metaphors and...

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