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Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew BibleIrony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible

Carolyn J. Sharp


Book published by Indiana University Press


Was God being ironic in commanding Eve not to eat fruit from the tree of wisdom? Carolyn J. Sharp suggests that many stories in the Hebrew Scriptures may be ironically intended. Deftly interweaving literary theory and exegesis, Sharp illumines the power of the unspoken in a wide variety of texts from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Writings. She argues that reading with irony in mind creates a charged and open rhetorical space in the texts that allows character, narration, and authorial voice to develop in unexpected ways. Main themes explored here include the ironizing of foreign rulers, the prostitute as icon of the ironic gaze, indeterminacy and dramatic irony in prophetic performance, and irony in ancient Israel's wisdom traditions. Sharp devotes special attention to how irony destabilizes dominant ways in which the Bible is read today, especially when it touches on questions of conflict, gender, and the Other.

Carolyn J. Sharp is Associate Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Yale Divinity School. She is author of Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah: Struggles for Authority in the Deutero-Jeremianic Prose and Old Testament Prophets for Today.

REVIEWS:

“Engaging, erudite, and rich with insight, Sharp's book invites us to dwell between the said and the unsaid, to 'hear word and silence together' in a way that reveals irony at the very core of biblical tradition. This is a must-read for anyone interested in literary criticism, theory, and the Hebrew Bible.”

—Timothy Beal, Case Western Reserve University

“Universes hang in the balance with every act of reading an ironic sacred text'—this first line of the first chapter is the book’s 'White Rabbit,' which instantly seduces the reader to follow the author into a newly-charted wonderland of biblical rhetoric. Highly recommended.”

—Dr. Yaffa Weisman, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, CA

“This book offers a fascinating exploration of the the presence and the power of irony in the Hebrew bible.”

—Tony Cartledge, Campbell University Divinity School





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