Heroic Bodies in Ancient Israel

ISBN : 9780190650872

Brian R. Doak
216 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Authors from the ancient world rarely used great detail to describe the physical features of characters in their works. When they did mention bodies, they did so with very specific goals in mind. In particular, the bodies of "heroic" figures, such as warriors, kings, and other leaders became loaded sites of meaning for encoding cultural, religious, and political values on a number of fronts. Brian Doak analyzes the way biblical authors described the bodies of some of their most iconic male figures, such as Jacob, the Judges, Saul, and David. These bodies represent not mere individuals-they communicate as national bodies, signaling the ambiguity of Israel's murky pre-history, the division during the period of settlement in the land, and the contest of leading bodies fought between Saul and David.

Heroic Bodies in Ancient Israel examines the heroic world of ancient Israel within the Hebrew Bible, and shows that ancient Israelite literature operated within and against a world of heroic ideals in its ancient context. The heroic body tells a story of Israel's remembered history in the eventual making of the monarchy, marking a new kind of individual power. Not merely a textual study of the Hebrew Bible in isolation, this book also considers iconography and compares Israelite literature with other ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern materials, illustrating Israel's place among a wider construction of heroic bodies.


List of Figures
(1) Bodies and Heroes
Describe the Body
Religion and the Body: A Brief Genealogy
Embodied Biblical Studies
Body Trajectories in Recent Hebrew Bible Research
Define the Hero
An Orientation to Comparative Moves
(2) Jacob: Israel's Heroic Body
The Body is the Nation is the Land
The Body of the Patriarch
Hairy and smooth, part one (Gen 25:21-26)
Hairy and smooth, part two (Gen 27:1-40)
Hairy and smooth bodies in comparative perspective
Hip Wrenching
Disabling wound
Heroic wound
Conclusion: A Crisscrossed Body
(3) Heroic Bodies in Judges
Torn Bodies, Torn Nations
Heroic Bodies in Judges
Judg 1:1-7: Adoni-Bezek's dismembered body
Judg 3:15-30: Ehud the left-hander, Eglon the fat king
Judg 4:4-24: Deborah and Jael
Judges 13-16: Samson
Conclusion: The Concubine, the Left-Hand, and the Body of Israel
(4) The Iconography of the Heroic Body
Material Exegesis of the Heroic Body
The Iconography of Heroic Bodies in and Around Israel
Heroic Burials and Warrior Weaponry
Conclusion: Displaying the Body
(5) The Height of Saul and the Beauty of David
Where are the Bodies of Israel's Kings?
The Heroic Body of Saul
Tall body
Hidden body, frenzied body
Scene One: Small and Desirable (9:3-26)
Scene Two: Anointed and Frenzied (9:27-10:16)
Scene Three: Hiding in the Baggage (10:17-11:13)
Scene Four: Small in His Own Eyes (15:17)
Further Scenes: Hiding, Disguising, Cutting, and Other Displays
Interlude: Goliath's Giant Body
The Heroic Body of David
Young and beautiful body
Beautiful bodies in Genesis
David's beautiful ruddy body
Dismembering and manipulating bodies
Dismemberment and corpse movement
Fake bodies
Conclusion: Two Bodies
(6) Saul's Heroic Bones
Saul, Again
Interpretations and Sources
Heroic Bone Transfer in the Western Mediterranean and Beyond
Bone Transfer in the Saul Narrative
Part One: The Gileadites transfer the body
Part Two: David and the bone transfer
Conclusion: An Ongoing Body of Power
(7) Conclusion: Heroic Bodies Reimagined
Index of Authors
Index of Subjects


Brian R. Doak (PhD Harvard University) is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Faculty Fellow in the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University, just outside of Portland, Oregon.