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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.24 n.3 Pretoria  2011


The pleasing and the awesome: On the beauty of humans in the Old Testament



James Alfred Loader

University of Vienna and University of South Africa





Profiting from the OT research programme held at the University of South Africa during August 2010, this paper further investigates different aspects of the concept of beauty in the Old Testament (OT). The use of the concept of human beauty and the beauty of human achievement is investigated in a broad variety of text types. Representative texts are examined where the concept occurs as a literary motif. It is found that human beauty, both erotic and non-erotic, as well as the metaphorical use of the concept are intertwined with descriptions of awe not only in the terminology, but also in the actual use to which it is put in texts from practically all genres. It is concluded that a coherent aesthetic is found in OT texts from different periods, which remains stable despite diverging historical and theological contexts. The contours emerging from the texts seem to square with the Kantian concept of the beautiful and Goethe's view of the awesome.



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Prof. Dr. James Alfred Loader
Professor Extraordinarius in the Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and in the Department of Ancient Languages and Cultures as well as the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria, Faculty of Theology, University of Vienna
Schenkenstrasse 8-10, A-1010 Vienna, P.O. Box 392, Unisa, 0003,
South Africa

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