Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Analyzing the ways in which ironic texts signify can be challenging in biblical studies, where an assumption persists in some influential quarters that one can “ just read the text” without the annoying encumbrances of theory. All exegesis is based on assumptions arising from the reader’s experience and from ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

Ambiguity, paradox, and misdirection play through all literature. This is true to a certain degree even in those kinds of writing whose genres seem to preclude indirection or opacity (lists of addresses, say, or commands in the training manual for a Labrador retriever). The unspoken suffuses and lends force to ...

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1. Interpreting Irony: Rhetorical, Hermeneutical, and Theological Possibilities

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pp. 6-42

Universes hang in the balance with every act of reading an ironic sacred text. This apparently extravagant statement might be perceived as ironic by those who do not believe that reading matters deeply, those who do not see cultural constructions of the sacred as important, and those who may not be sure how ...

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2. Foreign Rulers and the Fear of God

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pp. 43-83

In her book Irony/Humor, Candace Lang finds Roland Barthes musing on the “single-voiced dogmatism of ironic discourse,”1 a notion grounded in his idea that “irony is a meta-citation, the quotation of other codes as quotations. . . . The function of the ironic code is to put the stereotypes it repeats in quotation marks, ...

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3. The Prostitute as Icon of the Ironic Gaze

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pp. 84-124

The figure of the prostitute is prominent in several striking narratives in the Hebrew Bible, and metaphorical constructions of female sexuality in terms having to do with prostitution animate the diction of the biblical prophets. Ironic reversals abound in the prose stories and prophetic oracles that deal ...

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4. The Irony of Prophetic Performance

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pp. 125-186

The phenomenon of biblical prophecy may be interpreted as inherently ironic even apart from particular ironies that are wielded by prophets as weapons in their rhetorical arsenals. Prophets are represented in the Hebrew Bible as speaking divinely authorized, powerfully performative words. The biblical prophet ...

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5. “How Long Will You Love Being Simple?” Irony in Wisdom Traditions

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pp. 187-239

Many diverse types of irony enliven Israel’s wisdom literature. The rallying cry of biblical wisdom literature is, “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?” (Prov 1:22), itself ironic in its implication that it is the conscious choice of the ignorant to remain unenlightened. Local ironies are common ...

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6. Conclusion

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pp. 240-250

The unspoken is powerful in the Hebrew Bible. Irony in ancient Israelite literature serves as a many-edged tool for the destabilization of the overconfident subject, the problematizing of nationalistic rhetoric, and the subversion of ancient believers’ misunderstandings of tradition. Irony underscores the inherent fragility ...

Notes

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pp. 251-322

Bibliography

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pp. 323-348

Index

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pp. 349-356