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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 303 Reviews the nature of llQPsll cannot be made on internal arguments alone. but must be part and parcel of a more comprehensive theory about the development of the text of scripture. The length of this review gives some indication of how important I consider this book to be for scholars of the scrolls. for text critics. and for all who work on the Psalter. We are indebted to Peter Flint for his diligence and care in presenting this complex and challenging material, and can look forward to many years of lively debate on these issues. Eileen Schuller McMaster University Hamilton. Ontario schuller@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca SHAME AND HONOR IN THE BOOK OF ESTHER. By Timothy S. Laniak. SBLDS 165. pp. 205. Atlanta. GA: Scholars Press, 1998. Cloth. $34.95. Honor and shame are established analytical categories in modem anthropology and have, for some time now. been employed in biblical studies. Timothy S. Laniak has used the rubrics of honor and shame with sound sense to focus a reflection on the social dynamics of the story of Esther. The fIrst chapter introduces the approach and methodological issues. beginning with a brief survey of previous research on the book of Esther. Next, Laniak outlines two patterns in biblical literature, a "guilt and reconciliation " pattern (most common in the prophetic literature, in ritual laws of sacrifice, and in some narrative material), and a "challenge and honor" pattern. This pattern is based on a "crisis of suffering and shame 'without cause'" (p. 9), in which the protagonist faces a crisis and challenge after initial favor, which is reversed by divine intervention and leads to a new status. This pattern can be found in the stories of, for example, Joseph, Daniel. Moses, Job, and Esther. Laniak suggests that because this pattern transcends formal literary boundaries. there is also a corresponding social pattern that mirrors the self-understanding of the community. This gives good reasons for exploring the concepts of honor, shame. and status so central to these stories. The author then goes through a number of biblical terms that are relevant to the understanding of the concepts of honor and Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 304 Reviews shame. This careful analysis and concentrated presentation functions as a lexicographic foundation for the understanding of honor and shame in the Bible and anchors these elusive tenns in the textual material. The introductory chapter concludes with a presentation and critique of honor and shame studies in anthropology and psychology as applied to the study of cultures. The main body of the book is divided into four parts, each treating two chapters of the book of Esther (the fmal part deals with Esth 8-10). Each of these parts corresponds to one movement in the socio-literary "challenge and honor" pattern. The author summarizes the narrative and provides a commentary that focuses on capturing the "structural and thematic centrality of honor and shame." Comparisons are drawn to other biblical stories and to the individual psalms of lament. Anthropological concepts are introduced throughout, interspersed at appropriate points in the analysis in a way that ties in well with the commentary. The theoretical material is integrated critically, with admirable ease and always with priority on the biblical text. Chapter 1, "Context," describes the setting of the book of Esther and introduces the ftrst phase of the pattern, favor. The story begins in the court of King Ahasuerus, richly portrayed. The king's honor is challenged by the disgraceful behavior of his queen, Vashti. Esther, a Jew in the Persian Diaspora, receives unexpected favor by being appointed queen. Referring back to the introduction, the question of binary opposition between honor and shame in the biblical literature is demonstrated. In accordance with the introductory survey on the semantics of honor, the analysis of the king's status is organized according to the categories Substance , Status, Splendor, and Self. The reciprocal dynamics of honor and shame as something that is "fact" (royal splendor, riches, banquets) and also something that is seen by an Other is demonstrated by the analysis of the public responses to each of the meanings of honor: Dependence, Respect , Awe, and Reputation. The movement of Esther...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 303-306
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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