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Satire and the Hebrew Prophets (Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation) [Paperback]

By Thomas J. Jemielity (Author)
Our Price $ 29.75  
Retail Value $ 35.00  
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Item Number 154125  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   260
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.49" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.73 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 11, 2002
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  066425229X  
EAN  9780664252298  


Availability  92 units.
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Item Description...
Overview
In this book, Thomas Jemielity demonstrates the striking relationship between satire and Hebrew prophecy by reviewing the role of ridicule in both and analyzing questions of nature, structure, form, and audience. This pioneering study makes compelling reading for all interested in the Bible and Western literature. The Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation series explores current trends within the discipline of biblical interpretation by dealing with the literary qualities of the Bible: the play of its language, the coherence of its final form, and the relationships between text and readers. Biblical interpreters are being challenged to take responsibility for the theological, social, and ethical implications of their readings. This series encourages original readings that breach the confines of traditional biblical criticism.

Publishers Description

In this book, Thomas Jemielity demonstrates the striking relationship between satire and Hebrew prophecy by reviewing the role of ridicule in both and analyzing questions of nature, structure, form, and audience. This pioneering study makes compelling reading for all interested in the Bible and Western literature.

The Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation series explores current trends within the discipline of biblical interpretation by dealing with the literary qualities of the Bible: the play of its language, the coherence of its final form, and the relationships between text and readers. Biblical interpreters are being challenged to take responsibility for the theological, social, and ethical implications of their readings. This series encourages original readings that breach the confines of traditional biblical criticism.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
I already knew what this book was about  Jul 16, 2004
Thomas Jemielity was a professor of English at the University of Notre Dame when this book, SATIRE AND THE HEBREW PROPHETS, was published in 1992. The history of ridicule is covered quite thoroughly, going back all the way to the ancient Greek general and poet Archilochus, who is mainly associated with a curse in this book. Will Durant in THE LIFE OF GREECE made the satiric barbs of verse by Archilochus directed at Neobule, her sister, and her rich father, Lycambes, in Paros rather self-fulfilling (if `all three of them, legend assures us, hanged themselves' sounds like they truly did it to themselves) while a military kind of feeling is described in this book as the curse usually associated with "satire's supposed founder, Archilochus, delighting in the exquisite sight of the curse fulfilled upon the enemy," (p. 29), and then mentioned more than once to illustrate texts which should be much more familiar. "Believing himself, as his friends also assume, cursed by God, Job responds as we might expect the victim of the curse of Archilochus to respond." (p. 35). An element of magic is added to such considerations, after mentioning that Shemaiah the Nehelamite called Jeremiah "a crazy fellow who takes himself for a prophet," (p. 138) in the sentence, "Uttered at a time that believed in the efficacy of words, Jeremiah's curse easily matches the fearful imprecations of Archilochus:" (p. 139). A note containing Archilochus' curse also includes the information, "A priest and servant of the War God, Ares, Archilochus obviously fashioned his own appropriate psalms." (pp. 204-205). It was easy to locate this information because Archilochus is listed in the Index of Authors on page 246, following the Bibliography (pp. 238-245), and before the Index of Subjects (pp. 248-253) and Biblical References (pp. 253-255).

Though written in an obviously scholarly manner, this book seemed ideal for introducing me to a vocabulary that I could apply to my own concerns, as a comic put-on artist parading a string of old cartoons in opposition to modern power and anyone who might think, "Hey, we won the war." (I swear I read that in some news article dated March, April, or May, 2004, coming from someone in Washington, D.C. trying to exert a little influence on anyone who could change the provisions of a contract for cell phone service for emergency response coordination in Iraq.) The same reasoning might apply to anyone who acts like "Hey, we own the oil" or the world's largest economic system, safest drugs, hedge funds, or even weapons of mass destruction, though that seems less mentionable than special feces now. The tension in trying to determine whether the Bible or modern scholarship provides better terminology for actively engaging in the pursuit of contemporary meanings might be overwhelming for people who are just getting started in this kind of activity, but consider the choices:

scorn, ridicule, tendentious (p. 12), cruel, bitter, "irony, bawdy and ribaldry, taunt and mockery, burlesque and lampoon, parody and denigration" (p. 13), caustic wit and sardonic expression, "black and gallows humour, satire and parody, raging anger and kaleidoscopic irony [thrice compared to that of Jonathan Swift], harangue and taunt, invective and cursing, and the whole panoply of derogatory attitudes displayed in the prophetic books" (p. 13)

could be compared with Isaiah 14:4-21, called Isaiah's satire on the king of Babylon, which in verse 17 asks:

`Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?'

Psychologically, there is some kind of antagonism to alpha male authoritarianism in the prophets who pick on the king of Babylon by listing people locked up. We hardly know who they were, or if their usual abode was searched for weapons like modern detainees, some of whom are still likely to remain nameless under the detention rules adopted as a result of 9-11, which seemed to be more of a destruction of the city in New York than at the Pentagon, where one side of a single building easily absorbed the crash of a passenger airplane without causing the kind of intelligence catastrophe that would have been the result of a crash at the CIA headquarters. The king of Babylon might seem to be a better symbol for alpha male authoritarian behavior than anyone in American society, which functions mainly as a bunch of clerks humbly doing their jobs and hoping for big breaks that have little in common with the sadistic wit pictured by Martin Grotjahn:

"Under the guise of brilliance, charm, and entertainment the wit . . . is a sadist at heart. He is sharp, quick, alert, cold, aggressive, and hostile. He is inclined to murder his victims in thought; if he inhibits himself and if he does not succeed in transforming his brain child into a joke, he may develop a migraine attack instead." (p. 14).

But the forms of wit striving to achieve some form of recognition in American society and globally conform mainly to the entertainment values which determine commercial success. This book attempting to provide a scholarly look at Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Amos with an awareness of such scornful derision with which "the very conventions of the social order are exposed as bootless" (p. 108) also notes targets of satire that point "to the disastrous consequences of these customary devices of safety and security." (p. 108).

People who are only familiar with portions of the Bible that are regularly read as scripture in public worship services might need to do a considerable amount of reading of parts of the Bible that they have not heard before to appreciate how truly this book reflects its sources. For anyone who reflects intellectually on the nature of wit, that should not be an overwhelming challenge.
 

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