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Sanctioning Sacrilege: Towards Rereading Judges as Christian Scripture

HURLBERT, BRANDON,MICHAEL (2022) Sanctioning Sacrilege: Towards Rereading Judges as Christian Scripture. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 13 September 2025.


This dissertation presents fresh readings of several episodes within the book of Judges and offers hermeneutical suggestions as a way towards rereading Judges as Christian Scripture. Reading with the grain of the text, I argue that several narratives are “sanctioning sacrilege” — they are condemning the characters and their actions not only when read as part of Israel’s Scriptures but also when reread as Christian Scripture. Chapter 1 surveys the reception of the Curse of Meroz (Judg. 5:23) in 18th century Britain and colonial America to provide a sympathetic account of how Christians in similar social settings could read and use a single verse from the book of Judges in a variety of ways. Chapter 2 offers a fresh interpretation of the Ehud narrative (Judg. 3:12-30) which rereads the protagonist as an anti-hero whose methods of deliverance are incongruous with the way YHWH has chosen to act through Israel. Ehud’s violent actions, though they effect liberation, are presented in a way that may appear more sinister when read as part of Israel’s Scriptures. Chapter 3 focuses on the concept of exemplarity and its resistance in early Jewish and Christian receptions of Samson. Chapter 4 continues to explore the characterisation of Samson within Israel’s Scriptures. The final chapter highlights the cultic dimension of Judges 17-21 and its thematic resonances within Judges and the Deuteronomistic History to argue that the refrain is a call for Israel’s leader—whoever that may be—to recommit to following YHWH and to lead Israel in doing what is right in YHWH’s eyes. It is argued that the function of Judges 17-21 is to provide a retrospective analysis of the problems Israel faces within the book of Judges, namely that the corrosion of Israelite society began with the corruption of the priesthood.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Book of Judges; Hermeneutics; theological interpretation; violence
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2022 15:18

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