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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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5 CHAPTER ONE METHODS Two methods will be employed to elucidate DI’s theological characterization of Zion: Metaphor theory will be used to explore the referents of personified Zion, the issue of her culpability, and the portrayal of the birth of her children. Secondly, intertextual analysis will compare how DI presents wife Zion differently from other prophetic traditions with regards to her referent and the question of her guilt. I. METAPHOR THEORY In a recent study, Sarah Dille (2004) uses metaphor theory to study the parental imagery for God in DI. She applies the theories of various cognitive linguists such as I. A. Richards, Max Black, and George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in her analysis of the texts. By examining how metaphors interact with each other as well as with their literary contexts, Dille offers new insights into the metaphors employed by DI. For example, the “travailing woman” metaphor, while normally portraying fear in a siege, interacts with the context of Isa 42:14 to signify divine power. Dille’s use of metaphor theory is helpful for my study of personified Zion in DI, and like her, I will use Lakoff and Johnson’s theory of cognitive metaphor. However, unlike her, rather than using all three theories, I will only employ Lakoff and Johnson’s theory because it incorporates and moves beyond Richards’ and Black’s ideas and because recent developments of Lakoff and Johnson’s theory will help to further refine Dille’s approach.1 A. DEVELOPMENT OF METAPHOR THEORY Beginning with Aristotle, a metaphor was thought...

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