Friday, 26 September 2008

Hosea: the "metaphorisation" of prophecy

In addition to extending the prophetic message, how else were the prophetic traditions rendered as Holy Scripture?

2) The shaping process changed the level on which the original prophecy functioned in order to afford the witness a new metaphorical role. The original message of Hosea was directed to the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom in the mid-eighth century. The prophet's word constituted a sustained attack on Israel's syncretistic religious worship which had changed the worship of Yahweh into a fertility cult. Hosea appropriated the language of his opponents to claim all the areas of fertility, land, and kinship for Yahweh, Israel's faithful lover. The sign acts of chapter 1 functioned as a history-creating act of divine judgment which actualized the threat in the giving of names of judgment. But in its collected form the original material has been arranged to reflect an important hermeneutical shift in the function of Hosea's witness. The prophet's realistic language is now understood metaphorically. Regardless of the prehistory behind the sign acts in chapters 1 and 3, the present shape of these chapters has given the material a symbolic interpretation. It is quite impossible to reconstruct a history of Hosea's marriage from these two chapters. Rather, the intent that the sign acts be understood metaphorically is made explicit in both chapters 1 and 3 (cf. 1:2, 4f., 6f., 9; 3:1, 4, 5). Moreover, the placing of chapter 2 as an extended metaphor in between these two chapters provides the editor's symbolic key for interpreting them.

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