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Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible (Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature) Hardcover – December 23, 2008

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"Engaging, erudite, and rich with insight, Sharp's book invites us to dwell between the said and the unsaid, to 'hear word and silence together' in a way that reveals irony at the very core of biblical tradition. This is a must-read for anyone interested in literary criticism, theory, and the Hebrew Bible." ―Timothy K. Beal, Case Western Reserve University



"'Universes hang in the balance with every act of reading an ironic sacred text'―this first line of the first chapter is the book’s 'White Rabbit,' which instantly seduces the reader to follow the author into a newly-charted wonderland of biblical rhetoric. Highly recommended...." ―Dr. Yaffa Weisman, Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, CA, AJL NWSLTR (ASSN JEWISH LIB), Sept./Oct. 2009



Carolyn J. Sharp suggests that many stories in the Hebrew Scriptures may be ironically intended. Interweaving literary theory and exegesis, Sharp argues that reading with irony in mind creates a charged and open rhetorical space in the texts that allows character, narration, and authorial voice to develop in unexpected ways. Main themes explored here include the ironizing of foreign rulers, the prostitute as icon of the ironic gaze,
indeterminacy and dramatic irony in prophetic performance, and irony in ancient Israel’s wisdom traditions. Sharp devotes special attention to how irony destabilizes dominant ways in which the Bible is read today, especially when it touches on questions of conflict, gender, and the Other.Shofar, Vol. 28.1 Fall 2009



"[This book] offers a fascinating exploration of the the presence and the power of irony in the Hebrew bible." ―Tony Cartledge, Campbell University Divinity School, REVIEW and EXPOSITOR :Qtly Baptist Theo Jrnl, Summer 2009



Sharp (Yale Divinity School) blends theoretically dense literary criticism with careful exegesis to explore the Hebrew Bible's use of irony. The first chapter focuses on defining irony in dialogue with literary scholarship. Subsequent chapters offer exegesis of selected texts, arguing why ironic readings seem more apt to textual features then do literal or 'straight' readings that take the texts at face value. Sharp's exegeses, done in conversation with other scholarship, are a good model for exegetes in training. Commentators often pronounce the 'best reading' of a text, but Sharp admits she might find irony where none is intended. She challenges those advocating non-ironic readings to give textual clues, rather than notions of biblical authority read theologically into a literary text, to prove her wrong. This sophisticated work might be too dense for those not versed in biblical studies, but those willing to wade through its dense theoretical argumentation will be rewarded with an example of Hebrew Bible scholarship at its finest. This rich, dense work of literary scholarship is a must for serious collections of biblical studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. -- ChoiceA. W. Klink, Duke University, August 2009



"Careful readers must be especially attentive to the possibilities [that] the biblical texts mean otherwise than what they say." ―Mark Minster, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology



"[Sharp] negotiates between a modernist and post―modernist understanding of the biblical text, taking authorial intent seriously while attending to textual self―subversion." ―Steven Weitzman, Indiana University



"Carolyn Sharp has offered a magnificent exhibit of the thickness of the Hebrew Bible. Her work is a profound and exquisite invitation to reflect on prophetic imagination in its subtle subversion." ―Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary



Author Carolyn J. Sharp, an associate professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Yale Divinity School, suggests that many stories in the Hebrew Scriptures may be ironically intended. In her new IU Press book, Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible, she deftly interweaves literary theory and exegesis, while illuminating the power of the unspoken in a wide variety of texts from the Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Writings. She argues that reading with irony in mind creates a charged and open rhetorical space in the texts that allows character, narration and authorial voice to develop in unexpected ways. Main themes explored include the ironizing of foreign rulers, the prostitute as an icon of the ironic gaze, indeterminacy and dramatic irony in prophetic performance, and irony in ancient Israel's wisdom traditions. Sharp focuses on how irony destabilizes dominant ways in which the Bible is read today, especially when it touches on questions of conflict, gender and the Other. She is also the author of Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah: Struggles for Authority in the Deutero-Jeremianic Prose and Old Testament Prophets for Today.Steve Hinnefeld, Media Contact, IU News Room, Book Marks, March 9, 2009

From the Publisher

"Careful readers must be especially attentive to the possibilities the biblical texts mean otherwise than what they say." --Mark Minster, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

"[Sharp] negotiates between a modernist and post-modernist understanding of the biblical text, taking authorial intent seriously while attending to textual self-subversion." --Steven Weitzman, Indiana University

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Product Details

  • Series: Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature
  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (December 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253352444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253352446
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,644,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mark P. Stone on May 7, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a lovely read. Sharp's prose is gorgeous and thick as she weaves through the multiple levels of irony in biblical stories. Attuned to issues of violence, class, gender, etc., this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the literary and rhetorical dimensions of the Old Testament.
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