I will go and return : motion, tension and the uncertainty of salvation in the language and literary structure of the Book of Hosea

Mitchell, Matthew (2000) I will go and return : motion, tension and the uncertainty of salvation in the language and literary structure of the Book of Hosea. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the theme of ambiguity in the book of Hosea, the means by which this theme is communicated and its effects upon the interpretation of the book as a whole. The contention of this thesis is that the book of Hosea does not allow for 'closed' readings or 'final' interpretations of the book's message and that the book delivers a message which wavers between threats of punishment and promises of reconciliation, yet avoids providing the reader with a final, unqualified statement in favour of one or the other. This tension between threat and promise is one of the qualities which gives the book its tremendous power, yet at the same time the uncertainty it expresses has been a source of many difficulties for the book's commentators. The first chapter explores the 'marriage metaphor' which has captured the attention of biblical scholarship for many years, examining the uses of words derived from the root זנה, including the varying interpretations of the expression זנןנים שתN. The interpretations of the early chapters of Hosea as 'biography' are critiqued and rejected in favour of viewing the use of such expressions as not only inconsistent with the methods of most proposed biographical reconstructions, but also as a result of the polemical aims and language of the text. The second chapter discusses the literary devices used to create a sense of ambiguity and instability within the book's opening chapters. Special attention is given to the sequence surrounding the naming of the children in the first two chapters and the recurring use of the negative Nל, but a discussion of Hosea's use of imagery with multiple connotations, in particular the 'wilderness' and its role in the wife's abandonment and return, is also included. The third chapter continues the exploration of polyvalent imagery, moving into the latter portion of the book (chapters 4-14). The investigation deepens by examining the intertwining of the images of 'Exodus', 'Egypt' and the 'wilderness', the use of the root שרב in conjunction with these images as illustrations of the polyvalent imagery found in the book of Hosea, and the element of physical motion involved in metaphors of apostasy and faithfulness. From this analysis one can more clearly see how the 'marriage metaphor' of Hosea 1-3 sets forth the book's basic themes, and also provides the reader with both a means of entry into the dynamic tension of the text, as well as some of the interpretative tools required to analyse a book which consistently defies expectations and evades facile summarisation.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1281
Item ID: 1281
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [101]-107
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: 2000
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Bible--Hosea--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Ambiguity in literature

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