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Heroic Bodies in Ancient Israel$
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Brian R. Doak

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190650872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190650872.001.0001

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Bodies and Heroes

Bodies and Heroes

(p.1) 1 Bodies and Heroes
Heroic Bodies in Ancient Israel

Brian R. Doak

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 opens the terms of exploration for the study—defining the “hero” as one who acts at the intersection of warrior, royal, and founding roles. Biblical authors paid significant attention to the bodies of their heroes and saw the heroic body as a primal source of meaning. Moreover, these authors saw bodily features as communicating a message about that character’s story and fate. These heroic bodies eventually tell a story—narrating Israel’s composition as a corporate and national body, then the flourishing of that body in royal exemplars, and then the dissolution of that body. The chapter gives a genealogy of how various scholars have explored the body as a site of interpretation, highlighting the different ways biblical interpreters have engaged with body themes. Other key problems are explored, such as the reticence of ancient authors to describe bodies and problems associated with comparing ancient texts with one another.

Keywords:   hero, theory of the body, heroic body, disability theory, masculinity studies, comparative literature

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