Publication details [#10549]

Szlos, M. Beth. 2005. Body parts as metaphor and the value of a cognitive approach: A study of the female figures in proverbs via metaphor In Van Hecke, Pierre. Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 187). Leuven, Belgium: Peeters. pp. 185–195. 11 pp.


Szlos presents a thorough discussion of the use of body metaphors in the description of both the Woman of Valor in Prov 31,10-31 and the Strange Woman in Prov 1-9. Methodologically, the author's contribution is modelled on the cognitive-linguistic approach advocated by Lakoff and co-authors, an approach that maintains that metaphors "bear the power [...] to create new knowledge". In the first paragraph, Szlos presents an accurate study of the body parts used in the description of the Woman of Valour in Prov 31. Her analysis makes clear that many of the terms employed here are usually reserved for the description of men. The choice of those specific body parts creates the picture, also on the semantic level, of a very strong and enterprising woman. The sparse use of terms describing the mouth and the absence of any direct reference to her words make clear, moreover, that she is prudent in speaking. The metaphorical portrayal of the Strange Woman of Prov 1-9, which is the subject of the second paragraph, differs considerably from that of the Woman of Valour. Her description abounds in terms for the speech organ and in direct references to what she says. Those body parts not only depict her as an enticing chatterer, but also as sexually seductive, Szlos argues. Also the other body parts used in her description portray her as immoral, unconscious and seductive. The use of similar and contrasting metaphors in the description of the two female characters in Proverbs creates a very strong opposition between them, which is typical for "Proverbs' preference for expressing ideas through polar extremes", the author concludes. (Pierre Van Hecke)