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Metaphor and Masculinity in Hosea

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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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6 Conclusion 159

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CHAPTER SIX Conclusion he political arena in Israel during the 8th c. B.C.E. was dominated by the concerns and rhetoric of masculinity. Literature from the Bible and other Ancient Near Eastern sources is replete with lan- guage and images that both assume and shape certain norms of masculin- ity. Much of the rhetoric works on the basis that men want to be per- ceived as conforming to those norms, and thus threatening that they will fall short of those norms is an effective motivator. Treaty curses, victory inscriptions, and prophetic oracles all employ imagery that resonates with conceptions of masculinity. The prophetic oracles in Hosea show some variation in that they encourage the human leaders to accept a non- optimal masculinity with respect to YHWH. Masculinity in the ANE included several elements: potency, which itself contains political, military, economic, and sexual components, the ability to provide protection and the necessities of life to one’s depen- dents, and honor, which includes displaying honesty, upholding justice, and providing proper guidance to one’s dependents and subjects. There are thus many different images that can be interpreted through the lens of masculinity. To aid in analyzing how the rhetoric of masculinity works in the various images in Hosea, both those that are clearly related to gender and those that are not, I utilized a model from cognitive anthro- pology that examines how metaphors position people in social space. This social space was defined by the axes of activity, potency, and good- ness and showed...

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