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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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4 Predications of Non-Gender-Based Imagery 91


CHAPTER FOUR Predications of Non-Gender-Based Imagery While it seems that the use of sexual imagery is common to human be- ings everywhere, as we have seen, neither the character of such images nor their relation to social experience are fixed or universal. Within any local setting, sexual images are only one among many sets of metaphors of identity and their use is both unpredictable a priori and ever-changing from the point of view of those who use them. Andrea Cornwall and Nancy Lindisfarne, ―Dislocating Masculinity‖ n the previous chapter I applied masculinity theory to the task of evaluating the gender imagery in Hosea. Hosea contains many other types of imagery, however, which I will address in this chapter.1 I have divided these images into seven categories: parent-child, sickness and healing, hunting, animal, agriculture, plant, and natural phenomena. In each of these metaphor fields, identities are predicated upon YHWH and upon the audience. These images serve to establish YHWH‘s place in the social space and to move the audience into less optimal places. In this chapter I will undertake three tasks. First, I will identify and explore the details of the imagery presented in the book in each of the categories. In addition to strictly metaphorical images, I will examine some of the more literal language that helps to fill out the categories. Next, I will evaluate implications of the imagery for the placement and movement of YHWH and the audience along the axes of activity, poten- cy, and goodness....

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