“They Shall Be Clothed in Shame”: Is Shame an Emotion in the Hebrew Bible?

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Anthony I. Lipscomb Brandeis University Waltham, MA USA

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The modern conception of the self as bifurcated between inner and outer realms has and continues to hold sway as an unchecked presumption in biblical interpretation. The past decade of biblical scholarship, however, has seen a burgeoning effort to problematize this imposition with regard to emotion and interiority. The present study joins this conversation by challenging the presumption of “shame” as an emotional and interior category in the Hebrew Bible, a challenge that has already been initiated but is ripe for further probing. Informed by a practice theory of emotion and embodied cognition, and focusing on the metaphor Shame is Clothing, which appears in Job, Ezekiel, and Psalms, this study proposes material and enactive readings of “shame” wherein so-called shame roots as bwš, klm, and ḥpr center on bodily diminishment and practices of defeat as a matter of relational dynamics and power disparities.

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