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She Opens Her Hand to the Poor

Gestures and Social Values in Proverbs


While scholarship on nonverbal communication in the Hebrew Bible has traditionally focused on ritual dress, postures of worship, and related topics, there exist a number of non-ritual gestures in the text for which we have little understanding, such as occur in the book of Proverbs. As the premier source for moral pedagogy in the Hebrew Bible, Proverbs contains a number of gestures that, when properly interpreted, enhance an understanding of social values in ancient Israel. To aid in the process of decoding these literary features, Jones examines Ugaritic, Akkadian, Egyptian, and Sumerian texts, identifying similar gestures and anatomical idioms and how they are variously interpreted in their respective contexts. Though the particular religious and cultural systems of these neighboring entities are distinct, their ideology of social values—values imbedded in the fabric of daily life and indicative of the universally shared experience of all communities—comes to the fore through the medium of gesture.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4045-5
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Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Nov 19,2019
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 255
Languages: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4045-5
$114.95
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While scholarship on nonverbal communication in the Hebrew Bible has traditionally focused on ritual dress, postures of worship, and related topics, there do exist a number of non-ritual gestures in the text for which we have little understanding, such as occur in the book of Proverbs. As the premier source for moral pedagogy in the Hebrew Bible, Proverbs contains a number of gestures that, when properly interpreted, will enhance our understanding of social values in ancient Israel. To aid in the process of decoding these literary features, particular Ugaritic, Akkadian, Egyptian, and Sumerian texts are here scanned for similar gestures or anatomical idioms and how they are variously interpreted in their respective contexts. And though the particular religious and cultural systems of these neighboring entities are distinct, their ideology of social values—values imbedded in the fabric of daily life and indicative of the universally shared experience of all communities—comes to the fore through the medium of gesture.

REVIEW:

Jones explains that “the need for this type of study is evident from how commentators are often at a loss when interpreting certain gestures” (199). She Opens Her Hand to the Poor aptly demonstrates this need by helpfully unpacking the meaning and implication of various obscure actions in light of an impressive array of evidence. But more than this, Jones shows how these actions are integrated and function within their context in the book of Proverbs, providing an important window onto the social values and ethics of that book. She Opens Her Hand to the Poor should become essential reading for scholars of the book of Proverbs and wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible, as well as those studying embodiment in the ancient world. (Laura Quick, RBL 04/2021)

While scholarship on nonverbal communication in the Hebrew Bible has traditionally focused on ritual dress, postures of worship, and related topics, there do exist a number of non-ritual gestures in the text for which we have little understanding, such as occur in the book of Proverbs. As the premier source for moral pedagogy in the Hebrew Bible, Proverbs contains a number of gestures that, when properly interpreted, will enhance our understanding of social values in ancient Israel. To aid in the process of decoding these literary features, particular Ugaritic, Akkadian, Egyptian, and Sumerian texts are here scanned for similar gestures or anatomical idioms and how they are variously interpreted in their respective contexts. And though the particular religious and cultural systems of these neighboring entities are distinct, their ideology of social values—values imbedded in the fabric of daily life and indicative of the universally shared experience of all communities—comes to the fore through the medium of gesture.

REVIEW:

Jones explains that “the need for this type of study is evident from how commentators are often at a loss when interpreting certain gestures” (199). She Opens Her Hand to the Poor aptly demonstrates this need by helpfully unpacking the meaning and implication of various obscure actions in light of an impressive array of evidence. But more than this, Jones shows how these actions are integrated and function within their context in the book of Proverbs, providing an important window onto the social values and ethics of that book. She Opens Her Hand to the Poor should become essential reading for scholars of the book of Proverbs and wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible, as well as those studying embodiment in the ancient world. (Laura Quick, RBL 04/2021)

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ContributorBiography

JordanJones

Jordan W. Jones serves as a senior pastor in northern Kentucky where he lives with his wife and children. He holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East from Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion. He also serves as an adjunct professor at various colleges where he teaches courses in Hebrew language, Old Testament literature, and archaeology.

Table of Contents (v)
Acknowledgments (ix)
Foreword (xi)
Abbreviations (xiii)

Chapter 1. Whittling Down ‘Nonverbal Communication’ (1)
   Nonverbal Communication in Ancient Literature (2) 
   The Union of Gesture and Social Values (6) 
   What We Have Learned So Far about Gesture in the Bible (7) 
   Following a New Compass (11) 
   Taking the First Steps (16)

Chapter 2. The Gestures of Evil People (19) 
   They Teach with Their Fingers (19)  
   They Speak with Their Feet (35)    
   They Wink and Squint Their Eyes (46) 
   They Raise Their Eyes (65) 
   They Strike Forth Their Hand (71)

Chapter 3. The Gestures of Righteous People (93) 
   They Stretch Out Their Hand (94) 
   They Kiss the Lips (110)  
   They Place Their Hand Over Their Mouth (126)
   They Spread Open Their Hand (146)

Chapter 4. Non-Ritual Gestures and Social Values in Proverbs (155) 
   An Overview of Important Themes in Proverbs (156) 
   Toward a Definitive Ethic (156) 
   Natural Law (158) 
   The Theme of Social Order (161) 
   Gesture as a Window to Social Values (163) 
   The Implications of Gesture on Social Values (164) 
   Gestures Socially Perceived as Evil (164) 
   Gestures Socially Perceived as Righteous (173)

Chapter 5. Non-Ritual Gestures in Ancient Near Eastern Art (181) 
   Teaching with the Fingers (182) 
   Striking the Hand (184)
   Stretching Out the Hand (185) 
   Kissing the Lips (187) 
   Placing the Hand on the Mouth (189) 
   Spreading Open the Hand (197)

Chapter 6. The Meaning and Spiritual Implications of Gesture (199) 
   Gesture and its Spiritual Legacy (202)

Bibliography (205)
Index (231)

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