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Document Details :

Title: The Body Exposed and Other Images of Vulnerability in Psalms 42-72
Author(s): VERDE, Danilo
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 43    Issue: 2   Date: 2020   
Pages: 101-119
DOI: 10.2143/LS.43.2.3288162

Abstract :
The purpose of the present essay is to explore ancient Israel’s conceptualization and linguistic representation of human vulnerability. More precisely, I will focus on a group of psalms (Psalms 42-72) within the Psalter, one of the most popular biblical books voicing experiences of death, illness, war, crop disasters, injustice, political crises, and theological dilemmas. The dominant motif of repentance in these psalms makes the human condition of vulnerability emerge as the result of individual and collective misconduct, rather than as an intrinsic element of life. It will be argued that by exposing the suffering human body before the reader’s eyes and by vividly portraying the psalmists’ woundedness through powerful metaphors, the awareness of vulnerability is enhanced and the necessity of contrition and conversion becomes compelling and urgent. The Psalter’s language of the body and the abundant use of metaphors are not merely a colorful way of talking; rather, they are poetic and rhetorical tools artfully used to elicit the awareness of individual and collective vulnerability and persuade the reader that repentance is the only way out from the self-inflicted condition of precariousness.

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