Thursday, February 18, 2010

marriage metaphor: Hosea & its Misuse

The image of God moving from pathos to pathology can be problematic in black communities as it potentially affirms acts of desperation and violence against women by suffering black men.  In black communities, even though leadership is prominent among black women, patriarchy unfortunately still is assumed....  Unfortunately, black men's suffering has often led to pathological responses, including the beating, public humiliation, and even murder of women who could not otherwise be controlled....

Reading under, behind, within, and over Hosea renders a complex, intriguing, and problematic interpretation that can either lead to new possibilities or reify old habits and beliefs.  The writings of this eighth-century prophet as composites of an ancient, patriarchal worldview are rife with language that oppresses women, thus thwarting the potential for liberation and redemption among the whole community.  One must not choose among oppressions, for if one group is oppressed, ultimately all are in bondage.  The fascination with other cultures parallels modern economic prosperity concerns for the church, which often have no interest in justice.  Inclusive justice heightens questions regarding ongoing tensions about segregation versus integration, particularly when commitment to mutuality and inclusivity is not present.  The pathological Yahweh/Hosea characterization reflects how twenty-first-century leadership can corrupt congregations and society.  Can this God be redeemed?  This misuse of the marriage metaphor may have served as the catalyst for many an act of domestic violence--psychological and physical.  Where we go from here with Hosea is a respect for the text, a suspicion of what it says, and caution when it comes to interpretation, proclamation, and engagement.
above, an excerpt from the chapter "Hosea," by Rev. Dr. Wallace S. Hartsfield II, in The Africana Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora.  (HT David Ker)


Rod said...


Is the Africana Bible the sequel to True to Our Native Land?

I heard they were going to have an OT version of TONL.

J. K. Gayle said...

Rod, There may be another sequel to TONL coming. Hugh Page says this in the Preface of The AB:

"Insofar as it offers African, African American, and Afro-Caribbean readings of books constituting the First Testament and the Apocrypha, The Africana Bible is a fitting complement to the recently released True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary (Blount et al. 2007). However, it differs from the latter in several regards. First, the current volume seeks to be something more than a standard commentary on scripture. In fact, one of its goals is to call into question whether any secondary exposition, Africana or otherwise, can do more than simply converse with a primary text such as the First Testament…. Second, we have made the primary point of reference for this volume the worldwide Africana community, rather than the African American community exclusively…. Third, the current volume uses various methodologies, some more traditional and others decidedly experimental…. The agenda of The Africana Bible is both discursive and constructive…." (pages xxvii – xxviii)

Rod said...

Okay, thanks JK.