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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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5 Syntheses and Subversions 133


CHAPTER FIVE Syntheses and Subversions What is perhaps most fascinating about such reified spatial hierar- chies…is their potential for inversion or ritual reversal, or ―degradation‖ as Bakhtin puts it. This may be because vertical scales are inherently un- stable—being after all continuous ladders going both ways—and be- cause their antimonies, such as sky/soil, heaven/hell, better/worse, bear the unstable dialectical relationship of all binary oppositions. David Gilmore, ―Above and Below‖ Summary his study has explored the use of tropes as rhetoric in Hosea. Uti- lizing James Fernandez‘s concept of metaphor as that which sit- uates and moves people in a social cultural space, I have examined the nature of the identities predicated on YHWH and on the human, male audience of Hosea and their arrangement in the social qual- ity space. The elite males who make up the audience are those who have the most power in Israelite society, making the decisions in the political realm and controlling many aspects of the economy and religious prac- tice. Within the social space, they are normally conceived as occupying the optimal positions. The rhetoric of Hosea reserves that position for YHWH, however, and moves the audience, represented by Ephraim, Israel, and Judah, to various lesser points in the space. Three axes have proved particularly useful for analysis of the effects of the metaphoric predication: an axis ranking activity, one ranking po- tency, and a third assessing goodness. These axes not only account for much of the meaning of language,...

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