Animal names for Hebrew Bible female prophets

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Animal names for Hebrew Bible female prophets. / Scheuer, Blaženka.

In: Literature and Theology, Vol. 31, No. 4, 01.12.2017, p. 455-471.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Animal names for Hebrew Bible female prophets

AU - Scheuer, Blaženka

PY - 2017/12/1

Y1 - 2017/12/1

N2 - This article explores the literary and ideological dimensions of zoomorphic names for Deborah (bee) and Huldah (weasel)-two of the Hebrew Bible female prophets. The two women stand out among the female protagonists of the Hebrew Bible in three ways: they are the only female prophets endowed with textual legacy, they are remarkably successful in roles usually reserved for men, and they are the only women named after unclean animals. In this article, I argue that biblical authors use animal names to enhance the characterisation of the two women and to foreshadow the outcome of their narratives. Perceived as a bee, Deborah emerges as a triumphant weapon of war launched against the enemies of her people. Perceived as a weasel, Huldah appears as masterful in finding ways to solve intricate situations. At the same time, the use of names of unclean animals works to undermine the achievements and capacity of the two women, thereby consolidating the divide between male and female roles. Zoomorphic names of unclean animals suggest that although imaginable, and sometimes indispensable, female leadership is essentially extraordinary and must be viewed with suspicion.

AB - This article explores the literary and ideological dimensions of zoomorphic names for Deborah (bee) and Huldah (weasel)-two of the Hebrew Bible female prophets. The two women stand out among the female protagonists of the Hebrew Bible in three ways: they are the only female prophets endowed with textual legacy, they are remarkably successful in roles usually reserved for men, and they are the only women named after unclean animals. In this article, I argue that biblical authors use animal names to enhance the characterisation of the two women and to foreshadow the outcome of their narratives. Perceived as a bee, Deborah emerges as a triumphant weapon of war launched against the enemies of her people. Perceived as a weasel, Huldah appears as masterful in finding ways to solve intricate situations. At the same time, the use of names of unclean animals works to undermine the achievements and capacity of the two women, thereby consolidating the divide between male and female roles. Zoomorphic names of unclean animals suggest that although imaginable, and sometimes indispensable, female leadership is essentially extraordinary and must be viewed with suspicion.

KW - Animal-names

KW - Female prophets

KW - Hebrew Bible

KW - Zoomorphic metaphors

U2 - 10.1093/litthe/frx032

DO - 10.1093/litthe/frx032

M3 - Review article

AN - SCOPUS:85039455834

VL - 31

SP - 455

EP - 471

JO - Literature & Theology

JF - Literature & Theology

SN - 0269-1205

IS - 4

ER -