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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

‘For She Has Heard’: The Standing Stone in Joshua 24 and the Development of a Covenant Symbol
DeGear, Elizabeth Berne

Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2015 pp. ix + 236. $75.00

Series Information
Hebrew Bible Monographs, 70


Description: In this unusual and fascinating study, Elizabeth Berne DeGear draws on both biblical studies and psychoanalytic theory to interpret the role of the standing stone erected by Joshua in the sanctuary at Shechem. The presence of a listening stone in the sanctuary distinguishes the ritual space in Joshua 24, yet this religious symbol has received little scholarly attention. DeGear begins with the question: What is this numinous feminine presence serving as witness to the people’s covenantal relationship with their God? Comparing this stone’s function with the function of other covenant stones in the Hebrew Bible and throughout the ancient Near East, DeGear illuminates both the power of the symbol and its dynamics in the people’s religious development. In psychoanalytic mode, DeGear goes on to show how humans create and use symbols differently at various positions along the path to maturity. Her study presents a new perspective on how covenant symbols in the Hebrew Bible function in the development of the communities using them. The present analysis of this one biblical symbol offers scholars and students of biblical and religious studies the tools to engage in psychologically informed consideration of covenant. With its focus on sanctuary, symbol and psyche, DeGear’s exploration of the stone extends from the world of ancient Israel to today’s worship communities, where the Bible itself is used as a covenant symbol. What emerges is a picture of how the standing stone and other mediating symbols function in the religion of communities in the Bible and beyond.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Historical Books, Joshua, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Archaeology, Social-Scientific Approaches, Psychology

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Review by Ralph K. Hawkins
Published 12/6/2018
Citation: Ralph K. Hawkins, review of Elizabeth Berne Degear, ‘For She Has Heard’: The Standing Stone in Joshua 24 and the Development of a Covenant Symbol, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2018).


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