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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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37 CHAPTER TWO ZION THEOLOGY IN DEUTERO-ISAIAH The importance of Zion theology in DI will be shown in the first part of this chapter through various studies that seek to explain the relationship between DI and PI. First, analyses of common traditions between PI and DI will show that both prophetic collections appeal to the Zion tradition. Second, synchronic observations of literary themes throughout the Book of Isaiah point to Zion as a central motif. Third, diachronic investigations into the formation of the Isaianic corpus, whether through redactional or supplementary processes, indicate that the fate of Zion was a common concern both before and after the Fall of Jerusalem. It will thus be seen that DI is deeply imbued with Zion theology. The second part of this chapter reviews the tenets of Zion theology and argues that they influence DI’s portrayal of Zion. For one, Zion as YHWH’s holy place implies that she does not represent the sinful people but is the innocent city. In fact, the priority of Zion theology outweighs the natural use of the metaphor: Instead of mother Zion giving birth to the children, it is YHWH who births them because of the emphasis on YHWH as creator. Finally, Zion’s blatant nationalism in DI is an expression of Zion theology’s assertion of YHWH’s universal sovereignty rather than a narrow claim of ethnic superiority. Thus, DI transforms the earlier prophetic metaphor of YHWH’s wife through the lens of Zion theology. I. ZION IN DI AND PI Despite the...

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