Intersections between Iconographic and Gendered Approaches to Biblical Interpretation

in Biblical Interpretation
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This paper explores the intersections between two approaches to biblical interpretation: iconographic and gendered approaches. Focusing on the ways that visual images from the ancient Near East have been incorporated in studying gender in the Hebrew Bible, I identify four intersections. These examples demonstrate that participating in an iconographic turn is an important way that gender studies in the Hebrew Bible can develop. I also seek to show that the interactions can be mutually fruitful. In other words, including gender as an area of inquiry is a way that the iconographic turn itself can develop in biblical studies.

Intersections between Iconographic and Gendered Approaches to Biblical Interpretation

in Biblical Interpretation




 LeMon“Iconographic Approaches” pp. 146-47.


 LeMon“Iconographic Approaches” pp. 147-50.


 LeMon“Iconographic Approaches” pp. 150-51. For some recent examples see Bonfiglio “Archer Imagery;” Joel M. LeMon “Yahweh’s Hand and the Iconography of the Blow in Psalm 81:14-16” JBL 132 (2013) pp. 865-82; Brent A. Strawn “Whence Lionine Yahweh? Iconography and the History of Israelite Religion” in Martti Nissinen and Charles E. Charter (eds.) Images and Prophecy in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean (FRLANT 233; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2009) pp. 51-85.


 LeMon“Iconographic Approaches” p. 146.


 Deryn GuestBeyond Feminist Biblical Studies (The Bible in the Modern World 47; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix2012) pp. 12-15.


 For discussion see ibid. pp. 12-23. Especially influential among Judith Butler’s books is Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge 2nd edn 2010).


 See for example Susanne ScholzIntroducing the Women’s Hebrew Bible (New York: T & T Clark2007) p. 25.


 GuestBeyond Feminist Biblical Studies pp. 25-26.


 Schroer“Gender and Iconography” p. 15.


 Nahman Avigad“Excavation in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem,” Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1970) pp. 4-6.


 See Austen Henry LayardMonuments of Nineveh from Drawings Made on the Spot (London: J. Murray1849). For the larger visual context the full image is available online at See also Yigael Yadin The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands in the Light of Archaeological Study (New York: McGraw-Hill 1963) vol. 2 p. 388; Schroer “Gender and Iconography” p. 16 pl. 1; Julian Reade Assyrian Sculpture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1983) p. 30 fig. 35; Winfried Orthmann Der Alte Orient (Berlin: Propyläen Verlag 1975) pl. 202b.


Winfried OrthmannDer Alte Orient (Berlin: Propyläen Verlag1975) p. 13.


Winfried OrthmannDer Alte Orient (Berlin: Propyläen Verlag1975) p. 14.


 Zainab BahraniWomen of Babylon: Gender and Representation in Mesopotamia (New York: Routledge2001).


 Ibid. p. 28.


 Cynthia R. ChapmanThe Gendered Language of Warfare in the Israelite-Assyrian Encounter (HSM 62; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns2004).


 ChapmanThe Gendered Language of Warfare pp. 22-26.


 See Othmar KeelThe Symbolism of the Biblical World: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Book of Psalms (trans. Timothy J. Hallett; New York: Seabury1978) p. 102 fig. 132. Used with permission. For photographs of this artifact see Orthmann Der Alte Orient pl. 214; Dominique Collon Ancient Near Eastern Art (Berkeley: University of California Press 1995) p. 141 fig. 115; Richard David Barnett The Sculptures of Aššur-Nasir-Apli II 883-859 BC Tiglath-Pileser III 745-727 BC [and] Esarhaddon 681-669 BC from the Central and South-West Palaces at Nimrud (London: British Museum 1962) pl. XL; Yadin The Art of Warfare vol. 2 pp. 406-407)


 Cifarelli“Gesture and Alterity” p. 214.


 Cifarelli“Gesture and Alterity” p. 225.


 See for example Peggy L. Day“The Bitch Had It Coming to Her: Rhetoric and Interpretation in Ezekiel 16,” BibInt 8 (2000) pp. 231-54.


 See Gordon LoudThe Megiddo Ivories (Chicago: University of Chicago Press1939) pl. 4: 2a and 2b. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. See also LeMon “Iconographic Approaches” p. 153 fig. 7; Keel and Uehlinger Gods Goddesses and Images of God in Ancient Israel fig. 65; James B. Pritchard The Ancient Near East in Pictures Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1969) p. 111 fig. 332


 LeMonYahweh’s Winged Form in the Psalms pp. 15-17.


Schroer and StaubliBody Symbolism in the Bible p. 72.


Schroer and StaubliBody Symbolism in the Bible pp. 73-75 fig. 20-21.


 See Schroer and StaubliBody Symbolism in the Bible p. 82.


Schroer and StaubliBody Symbolism in the Bible p. 4. See my note 56 above.


 See LeMon“Iconographic Approaches” pp. 147-50.


 Fontaine“‘Be Men O Philistines’” p. 62.


 Fontaine“‘Be Men O Philistines’” pp. 62-69. Fontaine also relies heavily on the important work of Chapman The Gendered Language of Warfare.


 Fontaine“‘Be Men O Philistines’” pp. 69-71.


 Irene Browne and Joya Misra“The Intersection of Gender and Race in the Labor Market,” Annual Review of Sociology 29 (2003) pp. 487-513 (493).


 Fontaine“‘Be Men O Philistines’” p. 61.


 LeMon“Yahweh’s Hand” p. 878.


 LeMon“Yahweh’s Hand” p. 878.


 See David Stronach“Early Achaemenid Coinage: Perspectives from the Homeland,” Iranica Antiqua 24 (1989) fig. 1 [1-3 7]. Used with permission. See also Ryan P. Bonfiglio “Archer Imagery” fig. 1 4-6; Mark B. Garrison “Archers at Persepolis: The Emergence of Royal Ideology at the Heart of Empire” in John Curtis and St. John Simpson (eds.) The World of Achaemenid Persia: History Art and Society in Iran and the Ancient Near East (New York: I.B. Tauris 2010) p. 338 fig. 32.1


 Bonfiglio“Reading Images Seeing Texts” pp. 218-399.


  • View in gallery
    A Judean pillar figurine; Jerusalem; eighth century BCE.

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    A woman lamenting in a besieged city; Ashurnasirpal II; Northwest-palace at Nimrud; ninth century BCE.

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    Wall-relief depicting besieged city; Tiglath-Pileser III; Central Palace Nimrud; eighth century BCE.

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    Ivory plaque; Megiddo; Late Bronze Age.

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    Bronze band from Balawat Gate of Shalmaneser III; ninth century BCE.

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    Ivory carving; Samaria; ninth century BCE.

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    Archer coin examples; Types I-IV; sixth to fourth century BCE.


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