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Hosea 2: Metaphor and Rhetoric in Historical Perspective
Brad E. Kelle
AcBib 20
Publication Date
October 2005


The complex and, at times, violent metaphorical discourse of Hosea 2 has elicited a variety of interpretive approaches. This study explores the text from the perspective of rhetorical criticism. The classical conception of rhetoric as the art of persuasion and the function of metaphor within persuasive discourses and social settings correlate with the oracular characteristics of Hosea 2 and illuminate its use of specific metaphors. A reading of Hosea 2 from this perspective proposes that the prophets of Israel may have functioned in a manner similar to the orators of ancient Greece, who delivered extended rhetorical discourses designed to discern meaning in contemporary events and to persuade audiences. This study offers a distinctively political reading of Hosea 2 that explores the text as a metaphorical and theological commentary on the political and religious dynamics in Israel at the close of the Syro-Ephraimitic War (731–730 B.C.E.).

Brad E. Kelle is Assistant Professor of Biblical Literature at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California.