Aberrant Textuality? -- By: Andrew Sloane

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 59:1 (NA 2008)
Article: Aberrant Textuality?
Author: Andrew Sloane

Aberrant Textuality?

The Case Of Ezekiel The (Porno) Prophet

Andrew Sloane


‘Pornoprophetic’ readings of the unfaithful wife metaphors in Hosea 1-3, Jeremiah 2 and 3, and Ezekiel 16 and 23 criticise them as misogynistic texts that express and perpetuate negative images of women and their sexuality. This study seeks to present an evangelical response to Athalya Brenner and Fokkelien van Dijk-Hemmes’ pornoprophetic reading of Ezekiel 16 and 23. I outline their claims and supporting arguments, including their assertion that the texts constitute pornographic propaganda which shapes and distorts women’s (sexual) experience in the interests of male (sexual) power. I argue that both their underlying methods and assumptions and their specific claims are flawed, and so their claims should be rejected. While acknowledging the offensive power of the texts, I conclude that alternative explanations such as the violence of Israel’s judgement and the offensive nature of Jerusalem’s sin account better for the features of the texts which they find problematic.

1. Introduction

The Old Testament prophets have been an important resource in Christian ethics, particularly in relation to understanding God’s passion for justice—and his corresponding passion that his people reflect that in the conduct of their lives and the patterns of their communities. A recent movement of evangelicals engaging with social justice and advocacy on behalf of the poor derives its name from Micah’s call to

justice (Micah 6:6-8).1 Ezekiel’s vision of a new Jerusalem is a vital resource in Revelation’s vision of the new heavens and earth where, in the words of Peter, righteousness is at home (2 Pet. 3:13).2 What are we to do, then, when the very ethics of the prophets is called into question or when they are criticised as oppressive, violent, misogynist and abusive? Such charges, if substantiated, would vitiate their use in Christian ethics and call into question evangelical views of the nature and function of Scripture. Athalya Brenner and Fokkelien van Dijk- Hemmes’ pornoprophetic critique of Ezekiel (and Hosea and Jeremiah) present a substantial challenge to (evangelical) Christian use of the prophets as a...

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