The Heart of the Matter is the Matter of the Heart: Reconsidering Trible's Texts of Terror and Jephthah's Daughter with an Affective Reading

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Higginbotham, Casey Cole
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School of Theology Thesis 2024 , University of the South , School of Theology , Phyllis Trible , Holy Scriptures , Orthopathy
This thesis explores the way that the Holy Scriptures, specifically the "texts of terror" identified by Phyllis Trible, can speak to and from our affections. By considering the human experience of pathos when reading, this hermeneutical endeavor seeks to demonstrate how our affective selves interpret the Holy Scriptures, ourselves, and the world around us. Instead of merely asking what a biblical narrative teaches us to believe (orthodoxy) or teaches us to do (orthopraxy), this method, dubbed "orthopathy," seeks to ask, "how does/should it make us feel?" and to understand our affective reaction in light of the Christian faith. This thesis proceeds by examining the reception history of Judges 11, the story of the daughter of Jephthah, and further demonstrates the difference gained by the feminist and womanist perspectives. Next, affective reading methods are examined alongside Martha Nussbaum's philosophy of the intelligence of emotions and Sarah Coakley's theology of the rationality of affections. Finally, an orthopathic reading of Judges 11 is offered, taking into account affections in the text, of the text, and from the text. This thesis concludes that when read orthopathically, terrifying texts can become venues of truth-telling, solidarity, compassion, and justice.