Save

A Reading of Ehud and Jael through the Lens 
of Affect Theory


In: Biblical Interpretation
View More View Less
Full Access

This paper uses affect theory as a tool to interpret the violent images of two stories found in Judges 3–5, those of Ehud and Eglon and that of Jael and Sisera. Affect theory affords biblical exegetes a means to examine the role of the reader’s embodiment as a tool for textual interpretation. I use the work of affect theorists to discuss the way violent images work on readers and create the emotional, physical, and sensory context in which later violent images will be received and interpreted. The sensation created by exposure to violence is embodied in readers before the readers judge the images according to their moral, ideological, and ethical value. In fact, the embodied affect of exposure to violence is the context in which that judgment occurs. In Judges, the violated body anchors an experience of vulnerability and fear in the reader. The visceral affect of anxiety and the intensity of bodily violence position the reader to feel the need for security and relief in the figure of the king. This paper focuses on Ehud and Jael as two of the significant early exposures to the violated body in the book of Judges and explores their different contributions to the theme of physical violence. The physical experiences of modern readers may give us valuable insight into how the physical experiences of readers contribute to the persuasiveness of textual arguments. Affect theory brings into focus the body in the text and the body of the reader as part of meaning-making.


Abstract

This paper uses affect theory as a tool to interpret the violent images of two stories found in Judges 3–5, those of Ehud and Eglon and that of Jael and Sisera. Affect theory affords biblical exegetes a means to examine the role of the reader’s embodiment as a tool for textual interpretation. I use the work of affect theorists to discuss the way violent images work on readers and create the emotional, physical, and sensory context in which later violent images will be received and interpreted. The sensation created by exposure to violence is embodied in readers before the readers judge the images according to their moral, ideological, and ethical value. In fact, the embodied affect of exposure to violence is the context in which that judgment occurs. In Judges, the violated body anchors an experience of vulnerability and fear in the reader. The visceral affect of anxiety and the intensity of bodily violence position the reader to feel the need for security and relief in the figure of the king. This paper focuses on Ehud and Jael as two of the significant early exposures to the violated body in the book of Judges and explores their different contributions to the theme of physical violence. The physical experiences of modern readers may give us valuable insight into how the physical experiences of readers contribute to the persuasiveness of textual arguments. Affect theory brings into focus the body in the text and the body of the reader as part of meaning-making.


Introduction


This article uses affect theory as a tool to interpret the violent images of two stories in Judges 3–5, that of Ehud and Eglon and that of Jael and Sisera. Affect theory enables biblical exegetes to consider the role of the reader’s embodied experience as a tool for textual interpretation.1 I am particularly interested in how textual representations of violence work on readers, how they affect the bodies of readers who are engaged in deep reading, and how that bodily, affective response to violence creates interpretive possibilities for the text. Affect theory brings into focus the reader’s corporeal experience and how this experience may illuminate the rhetorical and theological effects of the books of Judges. The study of embodied affect provides a valuable lens through which to examine the physicality of reading, how texts “work” on readers, and how texts become emotionally persuasive.


In many ways, my interest in the affective experience of reading Judges started with watching my students’ physical responses to the book of Judges: laughter, cringing, excitement, repulsion, raised eyebrows, anger, horror, and disgust. In a different way than other books I teach with regularity, something happens to readers when they encounter the book of Judges. At least part of that physical reaction I have observed in my students has to do with the ways bodies are represented and acted upon, the ways those textual bodies experience and/or impose violence, the way that violence is described, and the way the narrator often withholds narrative comment on the things we most want to see praised or condemned. Because the body is so central to the narrative of Judges and readers themselves often have such visceral reactions to this text, it seems right to use a theoretical approach that puts at the center the bodily experience of readers, readers who experience the anxiety, fear, and violation of textual bodies.


For the most part, my analysis of the affective potential of Judges is based on the experience of modern readers; I use my own experiences as a reader of these texts, as well as those of my students and other interpreters, as reflected in their published comments. I do not assume similarity between ancient and modern physical responses to these stories. No one can know for sure the affective responses of ancient readers and hearers. As historians are fond of saying, “The past is a foreign country.”2 Moreover, it is well-established that bodily responses and emotions are socially and historically contingent.3 What produces a shiver of disgust in one culture does not have the same effect in another. We learn to experience disgust and express that physical reaction in certain ways within particular cultures.


Yet the bodily experience of modern readers may provide a helpful way to pose questions of the text in its ancient context. Bearing in mind all of the complexity of corporeal reactions as largely culturally produced, our bodily experiences may give us insight into how these texts worked on others in the past. That is, the bodily responses of modern readers may serve as a useful heuristic, a way of posing questions to the text.4 Why do we cringe when we read certain stories? Why do certain stories produce nausea? Why does my pulse race when I read certain stories? Might others in other contexts have had a similar response? For the same reasons? And what does that mean for interpretation of the story? These are questions not of idiosyncratic personal subjectivity but of culturally shaped bodily responses and notions of selfhood that have import personally and politically. Affect theory offers bodily response as a heuristic lens, one that has been neglected and has much to offer biblical scholarship.


This article develops in three sections. First, I introduce affect theory, including points of connection with ongoing and emerging interests within biblical studies, as well as some ways biblical studies can contribute to the pragmatic use of affect theory as a method of textual interpretation. Second, I examine the particular way affect theorists discuss the impact of violent language and images, which is of particular relevance to the narratives in Judges I examine here. Third, I analyze the Ehud and Jael texts through the lens of affect theory.


Affect Theory and Biblical Studies


Because affect theory is an emerging area of study, affect theorists often ­describe the theory in subtly different ways.5 Affect theory is inherently interdisciplinary, bringing together cultural studies, neuroscience, cognitive psy­chology, literary studies, film studies, the philosophy of personhood and emotion, and, increasingly, religious studies. My interest in affect theory as a method of interpreting biblical texts relates to current and emerging areas of interest in biblical scholarship, including the concept of the self, emotion, culture, language as a tool of identity-construction, the relationship between text and reader, and the representation of textual bodies as well as the embodiment of readers.6

Affect theorists regularly quote philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who said, “No one has yet determined what the body can do.”7 Spinoza’s curiosity about the knowledge and capabilities of the body is an important impetus in the study of affect, which prioritizes the emotional, affective, pre-linguistic, pre-cognitive, and the embodied aspects of human experience. Therefore, affect theory challenges the way traditional academic discourse has privileged what is conscious and rational, thereby marginalizing emotion and the investigation of the capacities of the body. Sara Ahmed, an affect theorist, describes the way emotion has been subordinated to reason, making the connection between affect theory and feminist critiques of mind/body dualism:


“[E]motion” has been viewed as “beneath” the faculties of thought and reason. To be emotional is to have one’s judgment affected; it is to be reactive rather than active, dependent rather than autonomous. Feminist philosophers have shown us how the subordination of emotions also works to subordinate the feminine and the body…. Emotions are associated with women, who are represented as “closer” to nature, ruled by appetite, and less able to transcend the body through thought, will and judgment.8

As a theoretical frame, affect theory situates interpretation thoroughly within the body, as opposed to transcending the contingency of bodily affect in search of an autonomous, individualized subject position. One fundamental argument of affect theory is that the body is the primary place of encounter for individuals, a place that registers “force, or forces of encounter,” and that this bodily encounter with its environment is the context in which conscious thought is shaped.9

In this way, affect theory subverts a mind/body dualism that still characterizes much of Western thought. Mind and body do not exist as separate Cartesian entities. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, whose work has been so important in theories of the mind, language, and metaphor, begin their book entitled Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought with a simple yet radically important sentence: “The mind is inherently embodied.”10 For Lakoff and Johnson, the embodiment of the mind is cause for totally reconstructing the project of philosophy, a project that has been based on assumptions about body and mind that we now know to be incorrect. As Lakoff and Johnson say, “[T]here is no Cartesian dualistic person, with a mind separate from and independent of the body, sharing the exact same disembodied transcendent reason with everyone else, and capable of knowing everything about his or her mind simply by self-reflection. Rather, the mind is inherently embodied, reason is shaped by the body.”11 Affect theory privileges what is happening in our bodily experience, the embodied context in which thought, rationality, and language occurs.


Of course, the failures of the Cartesian theory of the person are recognized not only by affect theorists. As old paradigms that have devalued the role of the body and emotion in the interpretive process fall away, there is increasing interest in many quarters of academic study in the body and what it can do. One area of increasing importance in religious and theological studies is trauma studies, which is particularly relevant in thinking about bodily responses to encounters with violence. Trauma studies shares with affect theory an understanding of the body as highly responsive to its environment and a place of generative affect.12 Trauma theorists, heavily informed by neuroscience and cognitive psychology, have noted that the body responds to encounters with overwhelming violence in ways that cannot be limited to what is conscious and aware. Shelly Rambo, a theologian and trauma theorist, notes that neuroscience has provided considerable insight into the intelligence of the body and the ways in which the body responds to encounters with violence: “With the rise of neurobiological studies of trauma at the turn of the twenty-first century, we can more accurately track the ways in which overwhelming experiences of violence alter a person’s fundamental biology. Most significant, however, is the research that suggests the body experiences trauma in ways that escape cognitive functioning and awareness.”13 According to Rambo, the body does much more than we are consciously aware of; the force of an encounter with violence resonates within the body in ways that reach far beyond what we can capture with reasoned awareness. Both affect theory and trauma studies posit a process-oriented theory of the person, a person who is embedded in her surroundings, whose thoughts and conscious awareness are one piece of her capacity for response to her surroundings, and whose bodily experiences constitute a significant aspect of her existence.


Because of affect theory’s inherent resistance to mind/body dualism, it takes seriously the body as a site of interpretation. To say that the mind is embodied is not a simple recognition that the mind exists in a body, which is patently obvious.14 Rather, to emphasize the embodied mind is to say that the physical experience of the body creates the very neurological and sensory context in which conscious thought happens. Affect theorist Teresa Brennan is one among many affect theorists who argue that bodily affect – the visceral response of the body to its environment, which happens mostly on an unconscious level – evokes thought. According to Brennan, we do not rationally think and then choose the emotions that match our rational and fully self-aware judgments. Brennan argues that we may think through our feelings and bodily reactions, finding thoughts that match the physical registers of our corporeal experiences.15

Affect theory breaks down the notion of the reader as an impermeable self who is consciously making decisions about what might influence her interpretations of texts. According to affect theory our bodies are constantly responding to and physically registering social forces and stimulation, mostly at an unconscious level: “There exists no Kantian radically autonomous person, with absolute freedom and a transcendent reason.”16 Affect theory posits a theory of the person that is deeply social and in-process, as opposed to bounded and static. This is not to say that there is no such thing as an individual. But in the world of affect theory, the boundaries of our separation are highly permeable.17 As Seigworth and Gregg say, “With affect, a body is as much outside itself as in itself – webbed in its relations – until ultimately such firm distinctions cease to matter.”18 The body, according to affect theory, is a process, always in relation, not a static entity with firm and unresponsive boundaries.


Because much of Western thought is predicated upon the notion of the individual, this radical reconsideration of the boundaries of the self is significant. As the significance of the body is increasingly recognized, we are currently seeking new models for interpretation that recognize the embeddedness of the individual in her surroundings.19 The assumptions of the autonomous Enlightenment model of the person are falling away. Affect theory is a robust and interdisciplinary location for discussion about a theory of the self that is not reliant upon these deeply entrenched notions of the dualistic mind and body.20 Because biblical scholars are engaged in the interpretation of texts that do not share this notion of the radically autonomous self, we may be able to provide relevant information about understandings of the self that are not informed by Cartesian mind/body dualisms. Affect theory is interested in an understanding of self and body as socially embedded and radically integrated; it may assist biblical studies as it continues to explore the relationship among texts, readers, and the generation of emotion. There is great potential in inquiry that brings the body’s particular knowledge into the academic interpretive process. What can and does the body do, exactly, as an interpretive tool? And what have we been missing in our hermeneutical frames by marginalizing bodies as interpretive tools? The experience of the body creates a potentially fruitful point of alliance between affect theory and biblical studies.


The Force of Violent Language and Images


With this discussion of how affect theory helps us reconsider the reader’s body as a site of meaning-making in the act of reading, I turn to the way language is conceptualized within affect theory as a shaping force and the effects of language in the creation of bodily feeling. Key here is an understanding of language as a force that exerts “torsion” on readers.21 As poet and philosopher Denise Riley says, “There is a forcible affect of language which courses like blood through its speakers.”22 The force of language is strong, exerting power over our minds and bodies, generating emotion and sensation that become the context of our conscious thoughts. Her explanation of affect theory is that it is “not so much on How to Do Things with Words, as Austin’s title had it, but How Words Do Things with Us.”23 Borrowing Riley’s construction of the question, I ask: “How do violent words and images do things with us?”


I have been particularly helped by an affect theorist in film and cultural studies, Marco Abel. Abel discusses the way violent images work on readers and create the emotional, physical, and sensation-saturated context in which later violent images will be received and interpreted. Abel argues that artistic creations are not so much about representing forms as they are about capturing forces.24 According to Abel, the force of violent images is embodied in witnesses before the witnesses judge the images according to their moral, ideological, and ethical value. In fact, the embodied affect of exposure to violence is the context in which that judgment occurs: “The affective or intensive forces inhering in the violence of sensation constitute such an exteriority, something that impinges on the body from outside. These forces produce effects prior to their inevitable narrativization, their eventual territorialization onto the plane of representation – and because these forces affect me before the narrative apparatus of capture organizes them for me, I am already response-able.”25 Before we consciously understand a violent image, place it in a context and accept or construct a story about its meaning, the intensity of violent images is generating response in our bodies. It is not a question of whether we should affirm or reject a representation of violence. We are always and already responsible to them, or “before” them, as Abel says.26 Abel’s argument is that violent images work on us before we ascribe meaning to them within narratives. Abel’s project is not so much what violent images mean but how they produce affect among viewers and witnesses, “how they configure our ability to respond to, and do things with, them.”27 The project of interpretation is, therefore, “to attend to these images’ affective intensities – their effects rather than their representational ‘meanings.’”28

In this light, the following analysis of Judges 3–5 examines the effects of the portrayals of violence in these chapters. How does the language of violence in these chapters work upon the reader? How does the violence of this narrative generate emotion, intense affect, in the reader? While I cannot undertake a reading of the accumulation of violent images in the book of Judges as a whole, I explore the possibilities of such a reading within two stories. Following Abel, my assumption is that the accumulation and sequencing of violent images is important in the way one reads the book of Judges. The violent images of the Ehud story prepare the reader, physically and emotionally, for the next exposure to violence in the Jael story. Ultimately, my argument is that the accumulation of violent images in these narratives works on the reader to generate a feeling of threat and anxiety about the safety of the body. That feeling of fear aligns the reader with the threatened, which may help us to understand not only the intensity of readers’ responses to the book of Judges today but also how the affective intensity of the book of Judges may have contributed to the Deuteronomist’s rhetorical and political goals. Affect theory may help us understand how the book of Judges created the emotional context that prepared the audience to accept the Deutronomist’s major claim that Israel needed a king. The following discussion analyzes the visceral effects of, first, the Ehud and Eglon story, and, second, the Jael and Sisera narrative.


Ehud and Eglon: The Viscerality of Violence (Judg. 3:15–30)


The boldly violent texts of the book of Judges have received significant scholarly attention.29 Through the lens of affect theory, the violent texts of Judges are not about representing history or particular violent acts, but about registering in the bodies of readers a sensation, a physical response, and a corporeal experience that prepares them to narrativize those physical experiences in a particular way. Specifically, in Judges it is the many images of violated bodies that generate and anchor the experience of vulnerability and fear in the reader. Textual bodies in Judges experience extraordinary violence. In addition to the thousands of bodies that pile up in the acts of warfare described in Judges, the reader is also brought close to acts of violence on numerous occasions in this book, acts perpetrated against individuals such as Eglon, Sisera, Abimilech, Jephthah’s unnamed daughter, Samson, and, perhaps most infamously, the Levite’s concubine and the young women of Shiloh.


The book of Judges begins with the promise of violence. The first verse reads: “After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of God, ‘Which of us shall be the first to go up against the Canaanites and attack them?’” (Judg. 1:1). Three verses later, ten thousand Canaanites and Perizzites are killed by the tribe of Judah. Indeed, tens of thousands of people are killed in the first two chapters of the book of Judges, yet the violence of those killings is far removed from the reader’s eyes. The narrator simply reports events with little attempt to bring the reader close to the violence.


The report changes with the Ehud story that begins in Judg. 3:15.30 The contrast between the preceding chapters and the tone of the Ehud narrative is stark. Suddenly, we know details about the bodies of the characters. We know Ehud is left-handed. In Judg. 3:17, we know Eglon is “very stout,” as the JPS translation renders the Hebrew דאמ אירב.31 The dagger itself, an implement of violence, is precisely described and its location is exact: It is two-edged and hidden on Ehud’s right side (Judg. 3:16). The bodies and instruments of violence upon bodies are described precisely, so that we as readers can visualize exactly. We are no longer being kept at a remove from the bodies of the characters. The characters are people with visible physicality, a narrative change that invites the reader into the story in a more intimate way and signals to the reader that a different kind of proximity to and treatment of the body will characterize this story.


In addition to Eglon’s physical description, the body of this Moabite king may generate another kind of affective potential within this narrative. As a Moabite represented in a Hebrew text, the incestuous story of Moab’s beginnings in Gen. 19:29–38 contributes to the reader’s perception of his body. If the ancient reader was aware of the story of Lot and his daughters, the portrayal of the Moabite king in Judges 3 would have had a particular physical resonance. For the modern reader who is able to make connections between the anti-Moabite language in various parts of the Hebrew Bible, mention of Moab connotes sexual scandal.32 Riley says that language is “fat with history”; words and phrases bring those fat, saturated histories with them as they work upon readers.33 In this instance, “Moabite” is such a fat word, here describing the fat king. The story of Lot and his daughters hovers in the background of this story about a Moabite king, tainting Eglon with the anticipation of disgust and the possibility for repulsion that accompanies a story of incest and broken sexual taboos.34 The story of Moab’s incestuous beginning generates a different kind of physical sensation – that of repulsion at incest – and the reader is invited to feel Eglon’s body to be a source of disgust. 35

The intimacy of the bodily images escalates as the narrative continues. The reader is privy to the goriest detail. We know Ehud pulls the dagger from his right side and drives it into Eglon’s belly (Judg. 3:21). The narrator intentionally, viscerally, brings us close to the act: “the fat closed over the blade and the hilt went in after the blade, because he did not pull the dagger out of his belly. And the filth (הנדשרפה) came out” (Judg. 3:22).36 (This is when my students often curl their noses in disgust, or cover their mouths with embarrassment or shock.) Rather than hearing about ten thousand killed, as in 1:4, we are brought close to the action with Ehud. We are physically involved through repulsion.


It is not only the physical description of the bodily penetration that is so viscerally forceful in this text. The reader’s olfactory senses are activated by reference to the smell of the open body, a smell that causes Eglon’s guards to think he is using the toilet.37 Eglon’s body is narratively humiliated, pictured as both gutted and then smelling of excrement. It is just this humiliation of the enemy that might have been so thrilling to the ancient reader, as many have argued.38 The scatological nature of the story belittles Moab, Israel’s enemy, and Ehud the trickster is the witty, intelligent, triumphant hero able to inflict such withering diminishment upon the enemy through his skillful wordplay and brazen courage. We are invited to feel scorn and contempt for Eglon, the fatted calf.


The intensity of the disgust many experience in this story is perhaps offset by the comic tone, an element of the story commented upon by several scholars.39 The wordplay, trickery, sexual innuendo, scatological themes, triumph of an underdog character, and poking fun at an established outgroup all contribute to a humorous tone. Ferdinand Deist even begins his article with a description of the narrative as a play, indicating the laugh lines in the story and the appropriate response by the audience.


The comic elements of the story are evident, yet the story creates anxiety as much as laughter.40 Disgust and humor intermingle in this story, creating a complex experience for the reader. Comments by scholars about the humor 
of the story register entertainment and unease. For instance, Tom Jull says, “The … image of Eglon taking a dagger in his belly as he rises from the toilet is shockingly funny.”41 Barry Webb says, “The grotesquely comic character of this story makes moral judgments irrelevant. We are clearly meant to identify with the protagonist and to enjoy the sheer virtuosity of his performance.”42 Similarly, Lowell Handy entitled his treatment of this story “Uneasy Laughter.” Humor mingles with disgust and discomfort, a recognition of the grotesque elements of the story. The story may generate a grin, but it is a shocking kind of humor that creates anxiety as much as laughter.43

Indeed, the violence Ehud perpetrates and Eglon experiences is not the kind of horrific violence that we will encounter in later chapters of Judges, espe-
cially Judges 19, with the rape and dismemberment of the Levite’s concubine. Yet affect theory helps us to notice ways the violence of the Ehud story might work on the reader, even if it is not the most disturbing encounter with violence on offer in the book of Judges. Envisioning a body disemboweled and left smelling of a toilet, even if the narrator offers us some comic distance from the act, is an act of physical violation that registers with intensity. The reader is brought close to the violence in a new way in this chapter, forced to see the characters’ bodies, envision the weapon of penetration, see it enter the flesh, smell the wound and the toilet, and feel the humiliation of that kind of death. One effect of the narrator’s construction of this story is an experience of narrative triumph over the enemy, yet this particular kind of bodily violence may work on the reader in other ways as well.44 The reader now knows that in the book of Judges, bodies are not safe. At the beginning of the book of Judges, and here in Judges 3, it is the bodies of the enemy who are violated and exposed, but that kind of rhetoric also establishes anxiety about the safety of bodies, all bodies, in the world of Judges. Lowell Handy is right: This is an uneasy story, one that offers laughter and also considerable physical discomfort with our exposure to the internal sights and smells of the body.


Jael and Sisera: Escalation of Violence (Judges 4–5)


The intimacy of the violence escalates with Jael and Sisera’s story. Marco Abel’s comments about the ways violent imagery configures the body and mind for the next exposure to violence is particularly relevant when we read Ehud and Jael’s stories together. The reader has already been introduced to scenes of intimate violence in the Ehud story; the next chapter builds on that foundation of anxiety and heightened physical awareness. The Jael story and its violence work on the reader’s body in slightly different ways than the Ehud story, though both stories involve the humiliating death of an enemy who is violated in a situation of exposure.


Jael herself names the emotion that the narrative generates in the reader. Her first words to Sisera are: “Come in, my lord, come in here, do not be afraid” (Judg. 4:18). As a woman alone in her tent, opening her door to a man on the run, Jael’s body is exposed, sexually and politically.45 Though the narrator does not provide direct access to Jael’s fear or sense of vulnerability, it may be implied in the way she attempts to please and placate her uninvited visitor. Jael assures this military commander, twice inviting him to “come in” to her home, to feel secure in her invitation. The fact that she tells Sisera not to be afraid is not so much an indication of her lack of fear as it is her recognition of the anxiety in the moment, the sense that anything might happen, and that she is not in control.46 Rather than alleviating fear, Jael names fear and highlights its role in the emotional content of the narrative, thereby making it more accessible to the reader. Her words identify the tension that is present, a fear and sense of vulnerability already introduced in the Ehud story but that here finds a new aspect of physical experience to engage the reader: that of sexual threat.


In many ways, it is undoubtedly true that Jael herself is most at risk in this situation. As a woman, apparently alone in her home, she is exposed and vulnerable. Yet Jael also recognizes Sisera’s fear; Jael tells Sisera not to fear. When Jael greets Sisera, she sees a soldier on the run, hounded by pursuers, desperate enough to seek refuge in the home of a woman. She immediately recognizes the volatility of the moment. In fact, Sisera does have much to fear when he approaches Jael’s tent, as the reader already knows at this point in the story. The reader has been promised Sisera’s humiliating and emasculating end. Debora promised Barak that God intended to “deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman” (Judg. 4:9). To be killed by a woman is a humiliating demonstration of failed masculinity.47 Sisera’s fear and desperate desire to protect his shamed and threatened masculinity are surely part of the emotion he demonstrates when he meets Jael, emotion that Jael immediately recognizes in her words of assurance. This encounter generates significant emotional tension and fear for each of the characters and for the reader who witnesses this unstable, potentially explosive moment.


In a similar manner as the Ehud story, the narrator shows us the weapons in Jael’s hand, the tent peg and the mallet. The ability of the reader to visualize the instruments of death in both narratives is a significant part of the way the text works on the reader. The reader is able to envision the objects, a concrete detail of the story that locates the act of violence in the text. The reader is able to envision Jael, holding her weapons, as she sneaks up to Sisera’s exhausted and sleeping body and drives the pin through his temple “until it went into the ground” (Judg. 4:21). We see Sisera’s body again in the next verse when Barak arrives and Jael shows him Sisera’s body, “with the pin in his temple” (Judg. 4:22). The intensity of this event is described with more visual force in the poetic version of the story in Judges 5: “Her left hand reached for the tent pin, her right for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera, smashed (הקחמ) his head, beat (הצחמ) and pierced (הפלח) his temple. At her feet he sank ערכ), lay outstretched, at her feet he sank (ערכ), lay still; where he sank (ערכ), there he lay – destroyed” (Judg. 5:26–27). The repetition of three violent and forceful verbs (הקחמ, הצחמ, הפלח) drives home for the reader the bold and unrelenting nature of Jael’s action in 5:26. The next verse celebrates repetitively (again, three times) the image of Sisera sinking (ערכ) before Jael, a tent peg in his skull. The violation of Sisera’s body is related here with zeal and enthusiasm. His skull is crushed, and he sinks, sinks, sinks to his death with the female victor standing over him with the hammer in her hand.


Again, like the Ehud story, the Jael narrative seems to celebrate the victory of the underdog over the enemy, a victory that is especially humiliating to Sisera because it comes at the hand of a woman. Yet the vulnerability of the body, especially the female body in this particular story, is just as firmly established and viscerally felt by the reader as the celebration of victory. In fact, Sisera’s own mother confirms Jael’s physical vulnerability and the fact that her own son is capable of violence against Jael. As Fewell and Gunn note, “[p]oignancy gives way to revulsion” as the reader sees Sisera’s mother, standing at the window waiting for her son whom the reader has now encountered three times in the narrative with a tent peg in his skull, allowing herself to be comforted by imagining her conquering son with his men gathering their spoils: “a womb or two for each man” (Judg. 5:30).48 We have access to the enemy’s assumptions in this narrative, the stomach-turning image of Sisera’s mother comforting herself by imagining her son violating the women of a defeated people. The reader is right to feel the threat of sexual violation, the visceral expectation of rape.


The Jael story places the reader in a complex position with regard to the violence of the story, an uneasy positionality that anchors the reader to the story through a number of physical reactions. The reader might feel a visceral sense of triumph and empowerment in the story of a woman who kills her potential attacker, a man who had probably been in the position to celebrate his previous victories as a military commander by raping women.49 Such a reversal story may indeed function as a revenge fantasy for those who have experienced violence at the hands of an oppressive force, a way for women, especially, to imagine themselves not as victims of violence but as powerful agents of their own triumph and survival.50

Yet as literary theorist Michael Kowalewski says, “[I]n studying fictional violence one must explore the power of words to sicken and befoul as well as freshen and redeem.”51 The violent death of Sisera at Jael’s hand may simultaneously (and viscerally) empower and sicken the reader. Jael’s survival and the celebration of her act in the text does not necessarily overwhelm the sensation of exposure, insecurity, the general vulnerability of the female body in this narrative, an insecurity that Sisera’s mother articulates and in which she even finds comfort. Indeed, it is Sisera’s mother’s grotesque assumption of female vulnerability and physical objectification that dominates the rest of the book of Judges. Jael’s single act of triumph does not make safe all women’s bodies but only seems to confirm the insecurity of women. In the book of Judges, women are rapable. Again, even though the narrator celebrates the triumphs of these two victors, Ehud and Jael, and even calls Jael “[m]ost blessed of women … wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of women in tents” (Judg. 5:24), women’s bodies in Judges are not safe. This is a textual world of threat, exposure, and violence.


In fact, as the book of Judges unfolds, the insecurity of the female body will be confirmed


again and again with shocking concreteness and horrifying detail. The stories of Jepthah’s daughter, the Timnite wife of Samson who comes to a violent end, the Levite’s concubine, and the young women at Shiloh are all narratives in which women are objects of violence instead of subjects, as Jael is in Judges 4–5. Jael’s violent conquest of Sisera’s body is not an image of assurance and security. In this world of war, women must be prepared to commit acts of violence upon others that they fear will be perpetrated against them. There is much to fear.


Conclusions and Implications


The Ehud and Jael narratives work on the reader in a complex, visceral way. In addition to offering the reader the thrill of triumph over an enemy, these narratives also offer images of exposed, humiliated, vulnerable bodies. The images of exposed and violated bodies create anxiety, unease, and a heightened awareness of the physical vulnerability of the unprotected. The visceral affect of anxiety and the intensity of bodily violence position the reader emotionally and physically to feel the need for security and protection. In fact, the reader of Judges returns again and again to images of the body in pain and the body exposed and violated, an accumulation of exposures that is jarring and unsettling.


The reader’s affective, physical experience in the accumulation of images in these two stories provides a plausible context in which to discuss how the Deuteronomist’s political and theological goals might have been assisted by the intensity of violence in the book of Judges. This study of sensation-saturated language and images is an exploration of not only the responsiveness of individuals to intense affect but also the political effect of generating emotion through texts and images. Language is, after all, deeply political, a potent force of historical change. As Riley observes, “Political upheavals have turned on how, at critical points, people have become willing to understand themselves; here language is profoundly historical.”52 In Judges, the Deuteronomist presents the reader with a physical experience as well as a polemical argument for kingship. In Judges, protection and safety are identified in the figure of a king who will alleviate the chaotic violence described in the book of Judges. The last line is a summary of the violence of the book and a threat about what the world will be like without a king: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25). The emotional and affective anxiety generated by the violent narratives of Judges positions the reader to accept the king as a symbol of security. Affect theory helps us recognize that that preparation does not occur on a disembodied, rational level. The fear and anxiety created by the images of the violated body provide the emotion that allows the reader to accept the Deuteronomist’s claims.


Sara Ahmed notes that in political theory the creation of fear in individuals is a highly efficient means of creating collective identities, identities that are willing to accept certain forms of governance: “ … fear functions as a technology of governance: the sovereign power either uses fear to make others consent to that power, or civil society promises protection, and the elimination of fear, to ensure consent.”53 In this light, it is easy to see how the generation of fear in the book of Judges is an efficient means of arguing for the protection and security a king might offer. Though this political aspect of the generation of fear is helpful for understanding the role of affective response in the book of Judges, Ahmed describes other implications of the politics of threat and insecurity. A sense of insecurity creates and sustains communal identity. As Ahmed says, “[F]ear works to align bodies with and against others … it is through the perception of shared risk that communities become a ‘binding force.’”54 A particular kind of communal identity is afforded the reader of Judges, one strengthened and emotionally charged by a body politics of threat and anxiety produced by repeated exposure to physical violence. Perhaps most interesting in the book of Judges is that the threat resides as much within the tribes as it does in enemy nations who oppress; by the end of the book of Judges, the tribes are killing each other. What binds this community may in fact be a shared fear of the foreign powers that oppress throughout the book of Judges and a shared fear of each other. This world of chaos is as much about the enemy within as the enemy without, a world of tremendous anxiety indeed.


This brief discussion of how the emotional experience of Judges might have contributed to Deuteronomistic ideological, theological, and political goals must be balanced with our knowledge of the contingency of affective experiences. No direct line can be drawn between the bodily reactions of modern and ancient readers. My goal is not to make a historically definitive argument about the affective experience of the ancient reader of Judges, but to bring the bodily experience of those who encounter these stories into the discussion about how these stories became and continue to be politically and theologi­-
cally significant. The physical experience of modern readers may give us valuable insight into how this text became emotionally and physically persuasive to an ancient audience and how the physical experience of readers contributes to the persuasiveness of textual arguments. The experiences of our bodies are not unimportant in asking questions of the present and the past. After all, none of us leave our bodies behind when we encounter other cultural worlds. To the extent that we are methodologically equipped to recognize our own affective responses and the power of sensation in our interpretations, our encounters with foreign worlds, such as the book of Judges, will be that much more self-aware. Our bodies are part of the methodological framework we bring to the act of reading and interpretation, and reading the body in pain produces a bodily response in the reader that is part of the process of interpretation. Affect theory brings into focus the body in the text and the body of the reader as part of meaning-making.


1I would like to thank Clare Emily Clifford and Emily Klein, colleagues of mine in the English Department at Birmingham-Southern College, who offered helpful assistance during the writing of this article.


2David Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).


3See Deborah Durham’s discussion of disgust in different cultures: “Disgust and the Anthropological Imagination,” Ethnos 76 (2011), pp. 131–56.


4See Durham’s discussion of how bodily responses function as a heuristic, as “something to prompt us to ask questions, not an object in and of itself” (“Disgust and the Anthropological Imagination,” p. 135).


5For a useful overview of eight ways affect is utilized by theorists, see Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” in Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (eds.), The Affect Theory Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), pp. 6–9.


6For example, see S. Tamar Kamionkowski and Wonil Kim (eds.), Bodies, Embodiment, and Theology of the Hebrew Bible (LHBOTS 465; London: T&T Clark, 2010); Amy C. Cottrill, Language, Power, and Identity in the Lament Psalms of the Individual (LHBOTS 493; London: T&T Clark, 2008);Robert A. Di Vito, “Old Testament Anthropology and the Construction of Personal Identity,” CBQ 6 (April 1999), pp. 217–38; Carol A. Newsom, “Models of Moral Self: Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism,” JBL 131 (2012), pp. 5–25; Ellen van Wolde, “Sentiments as Culturally Constructed Emotions: Anger and Love in the Hebrew Bible,” BibInt 16 (2008), pp. 1–24; Thomas Kazen, Emotions in Biblical Law: A Cognitive Science Approach (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011); Peter Lampe, “Affects and Emotions in the Rhetoric of Paul’s Letter to Philemon: A Rhetorical-Psychological Interpretation,” in Donald François Tolmie and Alfred Friedl (eds.), Philemon in Perspective: Interpreting a Pauline Letter (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2010), pp. 61–77; Jacqueline E. Lapsley, “Feeling Our Way: Love for God in Deuteronomy,” CBQ 65 (2003), pp. 350–69.


7Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics: On the Correction of Understanding (trans. Andrew Boyle; London: Everyman’s Library, 1959), p. 87.


8Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, (New York: Routledge, 2004), p. 3.


9Gregg and Seigworth, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 2.


10George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought (New York: Basic Books, 1999), p. 3. Lakoff and Johnson do not describe themselves as affect theorists, but their observations about the embodied nature of reason and thought are highly relevant to affect theory.


11Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, p. 5.


12See trauma theorist Bessel van der Kolk, “The Body Keeps Score: Approaches to the Psychobiology of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” in Bessel A. Van der Kolk, Alexander C. McFarlane, and Lars Weisaeth (eds.), Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society (New York: The Guilford Press: 1996), p. 216.


13Shelly Rambo, Trauma and Spirit: A Theology of Remaining (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2010), p. 21.


14See also Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, p. 4.


15See Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), p. 7.


16Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, p. 5.


17See Brennan, The Transmission of Affect, p. 7.


18Seigworth and Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 3. 


19See also Janet Trisk, “Embodied Subjects,” JTSA 117 (November 2003), pp. 40–51 (40). 


20For a critique of affect theory, see Ruth Leys, “The Turn to Affect: A Critique,” Critical Inquiry 37 (Spring 2011), pp. 434–72. 


21Denise Riley, Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), pp. 3–4. 


22Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 1.


23Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 3. Riley’s reference is to philosopher J. L. Austin, How to do Things with Words: The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955 (ed. J. O. Urmson; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962).


24Marco Abel, Violent Affect: Literature, Cinema, and Critique after Representation (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), p. 9.


25Abel, Violent Affect, p. 10. 


26Abel, Violent Affect, p. 14.


27Abel, Violent Affect, p. xiii. 


28Abel, Violent Affect, p. 10.


29Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (Minnea­polis: Fortress Press, 1984); Gale Yee (ed.), Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2nd edn, 2007); Jo Ann Hackett, “Violence and Women’s Lives in the Book of Judges,” Interp 58(2004), pp. 356–64; Alice Bach, “Rereading the Body Politic: Women and Violence in Judges 21,” BibInt 6 (1998), pp. 1–19; Mieke Bal, Murder and Difference: Genre, Gender, and Scholarship on Sisera’s Death (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988); Richard G. Bowman and Richard W. Swanson, “Samson and the Son of God or Dead Heroes and Dead Goats: Ethical Readings of Narrative Violence in Judges and Matthew,” in Danna Nolan Fewell and Gary A. Phillips (eds.), Bible and Ethics of Reading (Semeia 77; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1997), pp. 59–73; Daniel J. Terry, “With the Jawbone of a Donkey: Shame, Violence and Punishment in the Samson Narrative,” in Dereck Daschke and Andrew D. Kille (eds.), A Cry Instead of Justice: The Bible and Cultures of Violence in Psychological Perspective (New York: T & T Clark, 2010), pp. 42–54; Mikael Sjöberg, Wrestling with Textual Violence: The Jephthah Narrative in Antiquity and Modernity (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2006); Andrew Hock-Soon Ng, “Revisiting Judges 19: A Gothic Perspective,” JSOT 32 (2007), pp. 199–215.


30See also Eric S. Christianson, “The Big Sleep: Strategic Ambiguity in Judges 4–5 and in Classic Film Noir,” BibInt 15 (2007), pp. 519–48 (526). 


31For discussion of the way Eglon’s weight may figure in the story as part of an ethnic derision of the Moabites, see Lowell K. Handy, “Uneasy Laughter: Ehud and Eglon as Ethnic Humor,” SJOT 6 (1992), pp. 233–46 (237–38). For the modern reader, cultural stigmas associated with obesity may inform readers’ responses to Eglon’s body as a source of both humor and visceral recoil. 


32In addition to Gen. 19:29–38, see Deuteronomy 23 and the book of Ruth for connections between Moab and sexual scandal. Eunny P. Lee provides a useful discussion of the Moabite as “other” in Ruth; see Lee’s “Ruth the Moabite: Identity, Kinship, and Otherness,” in Linda Day and Carolyn Pressler (eds.), Engaging the Bible in a Gendered World (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), pp. 89–101. See also James E. Miller, “Sexual Offenses in Genesis,” JSOT 90 (2000), pp. 41–53.


33Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 7.


34I will not attempt to answer the question of the date of the story of Lot here. For a more complete discussion of the possible dates of authorship, see Randall C. Bailey, “They’re Nothing but Incestuous Bastards: The Polemical Use of Sex and Sexuality in Hebrew Canon Narratives,” in Fernando Segovia and Mary Ann Tolbert (eds.), Reading from this Place: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in the United States (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), vol. 1, pp. 121–38 (128–33).


35See also Bailey, “Incestuous Bastards,” pp. 128–33.


36There are two hapax legomena found in v. 22. My translation follows the JPS, but Barré suggests the following as a translation of v. 22: “And the hilt went in after the blade and the fat closed behind the blade, because he did not withdraw the dagger from his belly; and (as a result) the/his excrement came out (of the wound)” (Michael L. Barré, “The Meaning of pršdn in Judges III 22,” VT 41 (1991), pp. 1–11 (11). 


37Jull argues that Eglon is actually in a toilet chamber, making the guards’ confusion about the source of the smell even more understandable. He translates the unique phrase הרקמה רדח as “the toilet chamber” (Judg. 3:24) and הרקמה ת’לע as “the ensuite throne room” (Judg. 3:20), or “the throne room with the toilet facility incorporated” (Tom A. Jull, “MQRH in Judges 3: A Scatalogical Reading,” JSOT 81 [1998], pp. 63–75 [63–64]). See also Ferdinand Deist, “‘Murder in the Toilet’ (Judges 3:12–30): Translation and Transformation,” Scriptura 58 (1996), pp. 263–72. 


38See Marc Brettler, “Never the Twain Shall Meet? The Ehud Story as History and Literature,” HUCA 62 (1991), pp. 285–304 (301–302); and Handy, “Uneasy Laughter,” pp. 233–46. 


39Handy, “Uneasy Laughter,” pp. 233–46; Marc Zvi Brettler, The Book of Judges (New York, Routledge, 2002), pp. 29–33; Eric Christianson, “A Fistful of Shekels: Scrutinizing Ehud’s Entertaining Violence (Judges 3:12–30),” BibInt 11 (2003), pp. 53–78; Deist, “Murder in the Toilet,” pp. 263–72.


40See Brettler, The Book of Judges, pp. 29–33; and Christianson, “A Fistful of Shekels,” pp. 53–78.


41Jull, “MQRH in Judges 3,” p. 64. 


42Barry Webb, The Book of Judges: An Integrated Reading (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1987), p. 131. 


43Brettler argues that an ancient audience would have found the sacrificial imagery of killing a fatted calf “jarring,” another possible level of discomfort for the reader of this story (“Never the Twain Shall Meet?” p. 295). For further discussion of sacrificial language in Judges, see Lauren C. Monroe, “Disembodied Women: Sacrificial Language and the Deaths of Bat-Jephthah, Cozbi, and the Bethlehemite Concubine,” CBQ 75 (2013), pp. 32–52. 


44See also Jull, “MQRH in Judges 3,” p. 73.


45For further discussion of the sexuality of this story, see Susan Niditch, “Eroticism and Death in the Tale of Jael,” in Peggy L. Day (ed.), Gender and Difference in Ancient Israel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989), pp. 43–57; Danna Nolan Fewell and David M. Gunn, “Controlling Perspectives: Women, Men, and the Authority of Violence in Judges 4 and 5,” JAAR 58 (1990), pp. 389–411; Christianson, “The Big Sleep,” pp. 535–36; Pamela Tamarkin Reis, “Uncovering Jael and Sisera: A New Reading,” SJOT 19 (2005), pp. 24–47 (26–28); Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, “Deborah, Jael, and Sisera’s Mother: Reading the Scriptures in Cross-Cultural Context,” in Jane Dempsey Douglass and James F. Kay (eds.), Women, Gender, and Christian Community (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1977), pp. 13–22 (19–21). 


46See also Reis on the significance of Jael’s directive, “do not fear,” in “Uncovering Jael and Sisera,” pp. 26–28; and Johanna W. H. Bos, “Out of the Shadows: Genesis 38; Judges 4:17–22; Ruth 3,” in J. Cheryl Exum (ed.), Reasoning with the Foxes (Semeia 42; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1988), pp. 37–67 (56–57). 


47See Cynthia Chapman’s excellent discussion of the ancient Near Eastern values of successful masculinity, particularly the way failed masculinity meant loss of power and dominance and alignment with women (Chapman, The Gendered Language of Warfare in the Israelite-Assyrian Encounter [Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2004], pp. 48–58).


48Fewell and Gunn, “Controlling Perspectives,” p. 407.


49See, for instance, Ann Wansbrough, “Blessed Be Jael Among Women: For She Challenged Rape,” in Lee Oo Chung, et al. (eds.), Women of Courage: Asian Women Reading the Bible (Seoul, Korea: Asian Women’s Resource Centre for Culture and Theology, 1992), pp. 101–122.


50See, for instance, Tatyana Nokvikov, “Angry Women’s Voices: Revenge Fantasy in Nina Sadur’s Stories,” in Marcus C. Levitt and Tatyana Novikov (eds.), Times of Trouble: Violence in Russian Literature and Culture (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007), pp. 276–86.


51Michael Kowalewski, Deadly Musings: Violence and Verbal Form in American Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 11, as cited in Novikov, “Angry Women’s Voices,” p. 277. 


52Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 6.


53Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, p. 71.


54Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, p. 72.

  • 2

    David Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

  • 7

    Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics: On the Correction of Understanding (trans. Andrew Boyle; London: Everyman’s Library, 1959), p. 87.

  • 8

    Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, (New York: Routledge, 2004), p. 3.

  • 9

    Gregg and Seigworth, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 2.

  • 10

    George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought (New York: Basic Books, 1999), p. 3. Lakoff and Johnson do not describe themselves as affect theorists, but their observations about the embodied nature of reason and thought are highly relevant to affect theory.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11

    Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, p. 5.

  • 14

    See also Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, p. 4.

  • 15

    See Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), p. 7.

  • 16

    Lakoff and Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh, p. 5.

  • 17

    See Brennan, The Transmission of Affect, p. 7.

  • 18

    Seigworth and Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” p. 3.

  • 19

    See also Janet Trisk, “Embodied Subjects,” JTSA 117 (November 2003), pp. 40–51 (40).

  • 21

    Denise Riley, Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), pp. 3–4.

  • 22

    Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 1.

  • 23

    Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 3. Riley’s reference is to philosopher J. L. Austin, How to do Things with Words: The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955 (ed. J. O. Urmson; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25

    Abel, Violent Affect, p. 10.

  • 26

    Abel, Violent Affect, p. 14.

  • 27

    Abel, Violent Affect, p. xiii.

  • 28

    Abel, Violent Affect, p. 10.

  • 29

    Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (Minnea­polis: Fortress Press, 1984); Gale Yee (ed.), Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2nd edn, 2007); Jo Ann Hackett, “Violence and Women’s Lives in the Book of Judges,” Interp 58(2004), pp. 356–64; Alice Bach, “Rereading the Body Politic: Women and Violence in Judges 21,” BibInt 6 (1998), pp. 1–19; Mieke Bal, Murder and Difference: Genre, Gender, and Scholarship on Sisera’s Death (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988); Richard G. Bowman and Richard W. Swanson, “Samson and the Son of God or Dead Heroes and Dead Goats: Ethical Readings of Narrative Violence in Judges and Matthew,” in Danna Nolan Fewell and Gary A. Phillips (eds.), Bible and Ethics of Reading (Semeia 77; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1997), pp. 59–73; Daniel J. Terry, “With the Jawbone of a Donkey: Shame, Violence and Punishment in the Samson Narrative,” in Dereck Daschke and Andrew D. Kille (eds.), A Cry Instead of Justice: The Bible and Cultures of Violence in Psychological Perspective (New York: T & T Clark, 2010), pp. 42–54; Mikael Sjöberg, Wrestling with Textual Violence: The Jephthah Narrative in Antiquity and Modernity (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2006); Andrew Hock-Soon Ng, “Revisiting Judges 19: A Gothic Perspective,” JSOT 32 (2007), pp. 199–215.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30

    See also Eric S. Christianson, “The Big Sleep: Strategic Ambiguity in Judges 4–5 and in Classic Film Noir,” BibInt 15 (2007), pp. 519–48 (526).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33

    Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 7.

  • 35

    See also Bailey, “Incestuous Bastards,” pp. 128–33.

  • 38

    See Marc Brettler, “Never the Twain Shall Meet? The Ehud Story as History and Literature,” HUCA 62 (1991), pp. 285–304 (301–302); and Handy, “Uneasy Laughter,” pp. 233–46.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39

    Handy, “Uneasy Laughter,” pp. 233–46; Marc Zvi Brettler, The Book of Judges (New York, Routledge, 2002), pp. 29–33; Eric Christianson, “A Fistful of Shekels: Scrutinizing Ehud’s Entertaining Violence (Judges 3:12–30),” BibInt 11 (2003), pp. 53–78; Deist, “Murder in the Toilet,” pp. 263–72.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 40

    See Brettler, The Book of Judges, pp. 29–33; and Christianson, “A Fistful of Shekels,” pp. 53–78.

  • 41

    Jull, “MQRH in Judges 3,” p. 64.

  • 42

    Barry Webb, The Book of Judges: An Integrated Reading (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1987), p. 131.

  • 44

    See also Jull, “MQRH in Judges 3,” p. 73.

  • 48

    Fewell and Gunn, “Controlling Perspectives,” p. 407.

  • 51

    Michael Kowalewski, Deadly Musings: Violence and Verbal Form in American Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 11, as cited in Novikov, “Angry Women’s Voices,” p. 277.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 52

    Riley, Impersonal Passion, p. 6.

  • 53

    Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, p. 71.

  • 54

    Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, p. 72.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 296 62 0
Full Text Views 252 46 7
PDF Views & Downloads 153 109 14