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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Queer Theory and the Prophetic Marriage Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible
Macwilliam, Stuart

Sheffield: Equinox, 2011 pp. xvi + 247. $95.00

Description: Using queer theory and building on feminist biblical scholarship, Queer Theory and the Prophetic Marriage Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible critiques the heteronormativity of the marriage metaphor in the Hebrew Bible, with particular reference to Jeremiah 2-3, Hosea 1-3 and Ezekiel 16 and 23. Section I explores methodological issues involved in the application of queer theory to biblical texts. It surveys the development of the core idea of gender performativity mainly in the work of Judith Butler and demonstrates how her denial of any notion of gender identity in the pre-discursive stage of development led to the perception, and sometimes the practice, of queer theory as a neo-conservative academic exercise. The Section concludes with arguments for the political potential of queer theory. In Section II, the introductory chapter 3 offers an ideological theory of metaphor: metaphor is perceived as a means of both justifying and reinforcing gender performativity. In chapter 4 it is argued that the addressees of the marriage metaphor are the male citizens of Judah / Israel. This allows room for the following chapters in the Section to speculate about the implications of a metaphor that compares male citizens with the wife of Yhwh. Linguistic evidence for breakdowns in gender performativity is sought within the text of Jeremiah 1-2 by means of an anti-schema that maps the gender structure of the metaphors vehicle in relation to the tenor. Section III offers a methodology of camp derived from reader-response and autobiographical criticism. A camp performance of Ez.23.11-21 is then reported and then used as a basis for subverting the masculinist horror of the text: it reveals Oholibah both as the (self)-repulsive sex addict of the writers fascinated imagination and a powerful and defiant camp-iconic figure.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Prophetic Literature, Literature, Methods, Ideological Critique, Gay/Lesbian Approaches

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Review by Christine Mitchell
Published 4/10/2012
Citation: Christine Mitchell, review of Stuart Macwilliam, Queer Theory and the Prophetic Marriage Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2012).

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