Love and Violence: Marriage as Metaphor for the Relationship between YHWH and Israel in the Prophetic Books

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Love and Violence: Marriage as Metaphor for the Relationship between YHWH and Israel in the Prophetic Books. By Gerlinde Baumann. Translated by Linda M. Maloney. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2003. xii + 271 pp. $39.95 (paper).

Biblical images of God as perpetrator of sexual violence have shocked and bothered readers of prophetic literature, especially when heard in the context of Scripture and faith through the ages. In Love and Violence, a translation of her German book Liebe nnd Gewalt (21)00), Gerlinde Baumann acknowledges this dissonance as she analyzes the use of the marriage metaphor in the prophetic books as it is used for YHWH and Israel, personified as male and female respectively. Including imagery of rape, prostitution, adultery, and public shaming, she raises questions as to the use and usefulness of such biblical metaphoric speech for todays readers while offering some biblical counter-images. Repeatedly naming the energy and hardship it takes especially for women to confront violence in the Bible and in daily life, in her introductory and closing chapters, she surveys scholarship on the topic as well as her understanding of the function of metaphor (chapters 1-5), before she moves to a different level of detailed textual analysis of Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Lamentations (in an excursus), Isaiah, and some of the remaining Twelve (chapters 6-10) in the main body of the book.

Tracing the use of the marriage metaphor in the prophetic books historically, Baumann finds the original metaphor in Hosea 1-3, where sexual violence is divine punishment for Israel's adultery, predominantly negotiated as a violation of property with love being secondary if not absent. In Jeremiah the violence of the imagery is magnified by naming YHWH as the perpetrator of the rape that personified female Israel suffers (Jer. …