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Mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah

A Metaphor for Zion Theology


Maggie Low

Mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah: A Metaphor for Zion Theology offers the unique perspective that personified mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah is not just a metaphor used for a rhetorical purpose but a cognitive metaphor representing Zion theology, a central theme in the Book of Isaiah. The author deftly combines the methods of metaphor theory and intertextuality to explain the vital but often overlooked conundrum that Zion in Deutero-Isaiah is an innocent mother, unlike the adulterous wife in other prophetic books. This interpretation offers a vital corrective to the view of women in the biblical context. As a result of this usage, Deutero-Isaiah paradoxically presents Yahweh the Creator as the one who gives birth to the people, not mother Zion. This understanding explains the concentration of gynomorphic imagery used for God in this prophetic book, providing a counterbalance to patriarchal perspectives of God. Finally, a fresh insight is offered into the ongoing debate between universalism and nationalism in Deutero-Isaiah, based on the premise that as a symbol of Zion theology, mother Zion represents Yahweh’s universal sovereignty rather than a nationalistic ethnicity. Mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah is an invaluable resource in courses that deal with issues in Isaiah, biblical interpretation, and feminist hermeneutics, especially regarding the feminine personification of Zion and the maternal imagery of God.


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This is an updated and slightly revised dissertation completed in 2009 under the supervision of Prof. Andreas Schuele, at Union Theological Seminary and Prebsyterian School of Christian Education, Richmond, Virginia. Thanks are due to my many teachers, without whom this project would not have been conceived, carried to term, and delivered. My Doktorvater, Andreas Schuele, had an uncanny way of pointing me in the right direction with his breadth of English and Continental scholarship. He was unrelenting in his demand for clarity of thought, depth of analysis, and breadth of imagination and yet unstinting in his encouragement whenever needed. My two readers, Professors Julie Galambush and Sam Balentine, made the end result far better than it would have been by their insightful comments and challenging questions. Prof. Dean McBride also contributed his rigorous scholarship in my initial study of Isaiah. To the Old Testament faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary, I owe the foundation for my study of the Hebrew Scripture: Professors J. J. M Roberts introduced Zion Theology to me, Jacqueline Lapsley initiated me into feminist studies of the Old Testament, and C. Leong Seow made sure I learnt my Hebrew properly. I am indebted to several organizations and friends for their support during my studies: The Council of World Mission, The Presbyterian Church (USA), The Mrs Lee Choon Guan Trust, The Presbyterian Church of Singapore, Princeton Theological Seminary, Union-PSCE, Trinity Theological College (Singapore), Mr and Mrs Goh Wei Ming and Katherine, Mr and Mrs Harold and Christy Or, Mr...

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