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Theophany and Chaoskampf


The Interpretation of Theophanic Imagery in the Baal Epic, Isaiah, and the Twelve


The imagery of thunder and lightning, fire and earthquake which attends YHWH's theophany in Old Testament poetic texts has most often been interpreted as a series of metaphors in biblical scholarship. This work applies insights from recent work in metaphor theory and myth theory to argue that this traditional interpretation of poetic theophanic imagery is mistaken, and that these texts make better exegetical sense when understood against the background of the ANE myth of the defeat of chaos.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61719-160-2
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: May 20,2010
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 324
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-61719-160-2
$163.00

The imagery of thunder and lightning, fire and earthquake which attends YHWH's theophany in Old Testament poetic texts has most often been interpreted as a series of metaphors in biblical scholarship. This work applies insights from recent work in metaphor theory and myth theory—especially with regard to the hermeneutics of the symbol in a metaphorical utterance and a mythic narrative—to argue that this traditional interpretation of poetic theophanic imagery is mistaken, and that these texts make better exegetical sense when understood against the background of the ANE myth of the defeat of chaos. The most important West Semitic version of this myth, the Baal Epic, is examined in order to show the dimensions of this ANE mythic narrative and the use of symbols in it. Metaphorical and mythic frameworks are then applied to various texts from Isaiah and the twelve Minor Prophets in order to show that a metaphorical interpretation of poetic theophanic texts fails to do justice both to their internal unity and their larger contribution to the books in which they are now found. This work thus continues the application of metaphor and myth theory to biblical texts already occurring in biblical studies, as well as providing a new template for interpreting poetic theophanic texts.

The imagery of thunder and lightning, fire and earthquake which attends YHWH's theophany in Old Testament poetic texts has most often been interpreted as a series of metaphors in biblical scholarship. This work applies insights from recent work in metaphor theory and myth theory—especially with regard to the hermeneutics of the symbol in a metaphorical utterance and a mythic narrative—to argue that this traditional interpretation of poetic theophanic imagery is mistaken, and that these texts make better exegetical sense when understood against the background of the ANE myth of the defeat of chaos. The most important West Semitic version of this myth, the Baal Epic, is examined in order to show the dimensions of this ANE mythic narrative and the use of symbols in it. Metaphorical and mythic frameworks are then applied to various texts from Isaiah and the twelve Minor Prophets in order to show that a metaphorical interpretation of poetic theophanic texts fails to do justice both to their internal unity and their larger contribution to the books in which they are now found. This work thus continues the application of metaphor and myth theory to biblical texts already occurring in biblical studies, as well as providing a new template for interpreting poetic theophanic texts.

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Contributor

Eric Ortlund

  • Table of Contents (page 7)
  • Acknowledgments (page 9)
  • Abbreviations (page 11)
  • Chapter 1: Metaphor and Myth as Competing Frameworks For Interpreting Theophanic Imagery (page 15)
    • Preliminary Considerations of Myth Theory and Some Basic Characteristics of ANE Myth (page 20)
    • The Chaoskampf Myth (page 30)
    • Comparing Different Versions of an ANE Myth (page 35)
      • A Structuralist Interpretation of the Chaoskampf? (page 37)
    • Myth and Metaphor (page 41)
      • A Theoretical Approach to Metaphor (page 41)
      • Metaphorical Explanations of Theophanic Imagery in OT Studies (page 49)
      • An Example from Isa 19.1, 5-6 (page 67)
      • An Important Qualification (page 73)
    • The Use of Ugaritic Material in This Project (page 77)
    • Ritual and Theophanic Imagery (page 79)
    • Survey of Previous Scholarship (page 82)
    • Limitations, Outline, and Method of This Project (page 103)
  • Chapter 2: Thunder and Theophanyin the Baal Epic (page 109)
    • Theophanic Imagery in the Ancient Near East (page 110)
    • Introduction to the Baal Epic (page 116)
    • Analysis of Texts Relating to Theophany in the Baal Epic (page 118)
    • Summary and Conclusions (page 141)
  • Chapter 3: Theophany and Chaoskampf in the Book of Isaiah (page 143)
    • YHWH Alone Exalted on That Day (2:6-22) (page 143)
    • YHWH and the Weapons of his Wrath (13.2-13) (page 152)
    • Before his Elders, Glory!Ž (24.21-23) (page 158)
    • With his Sharp, Great and Strong SwordŽ (26.20-27.1) (page 164)
    • I Will Distress ArielŽ (29.1-8) (page 167)
    • YHWH Will Shatter Assyria (30.27-33) (page 172)
    • The Blind Will See the Glory of YHWH (35.1-10; 40.1-11; 52.7-12) (page 177)
    • YHWH Sets Out as a Warrior (42.13-17) (page 186)
    • A Redeemer Will Come to Zion (59.15B-20) (page 190)
    • Behold, YHWH Will Come in FireŽ (66.15-17) (page 197)
    • Conclusion (page 201)
  • Chapter 4: Theophany and Chaoskampf in the Book of the Twelve (page 203)
    • YHWH Will Roar from Zion (Joel 4.15-17) (page 203)
    • From Zion YHWH RoarsŽ (Amos 1.2) (page 210)
    • His Wrath is Poured Out Like FireŽ (Nahum 1:2-8) (page 218)
    • You Set Out for the Salvation of Your PeopleŽ (Habakkuk 3.3-15) (page 223)
    • He Will Advance in the Storms of the SouthŽ (Zechariah 9:13-17) (page 242)
    • YHWH Will Fight on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14.3-5) (page 248)
  • Chapter 5: Metaphor and Myth in Theophany: Borderline Cases (page 255)
    • By My Rebuke, I Dry Up the SeaŽ (Isa 50.1-3) (page 256)
    • O, That You Would Tear the HeavensŽ (Isa 63.19-64.2) (page 258)
    • Now I Will AriseŽ (Isa 33.1-16) (page 261)
    • Who is This, Coming from Edom? (Isa 63.1-6) (page 264)
    • Woe to the Tumult of Many NationsŽ (Isa 17.12-14) (page 269)
    • Yhwh Will Descend to Fight on Zion (Isa 31.4-5, 8-9) (page 272)
    • He Will Tread on the High Places of the EarthŽ (Mic 1:3-4) (page 277)
    • Conclusion (page 280)
  • Chapter 6: Summary of the Argument and Conclusions (page 281)
  • Bibliography (page 289)
  • Index (page 321)
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