The emergence of women in the LXX apocrypha : a semiotic study of Susanna
Mwamba Kanonge, Dick
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The central concern of this study is the emergence of women in the LXX Apocrypha in general, and Susanna in particular. The contention of the study is that Susanna radically reverses the sexist prejudices of the Second Temple period against women, as exemplified in the Wisdom of Ben Sira. In order to test this hypothesis, the semiotic approach of the school of Paris, particularly the version of Everaert-Desmedt, is followed. The analysis focusses on the three levels of analysis comprising the Greimassian semiotic approach, as refined by Everaert-Desmedt: the figurative, the narrative and the thematic. Following an introduction in Chapter 1 and justification of the research approach in Chapter 2, Chapters 3 and 4 constitute the analysis of the story. Finally, chapter 5 gives a summary of the study and formulates some recommendations for further research. The figurative analysis tests the hypothesis by investigating figurative oppositions, motifs and the emplotment of Susanna. The narrative analysis examines Susanna focusing on the structure, the actantial configuration, the canonical narrative schema and the veridictory square. The thematic analysis attempts to map out fundamental values that generated the story by sorting out values in terms of negative versus positive and by observing their course in the unfolding of the story. From the results of the semiotic analysis, it is evident that the main concern of Susanna is the redefinition of Jewishness. In fact, the choice of a pious woman as a subject and two corrupted men as anti subject of the narrative reveals that gender plays an important role in the process of redefinition of Jewish identity. The driving concern of the story is identified and formulated in a question as follows: 'Who is a true Jew?" Results from the analysis of Susanna reveal that the answer to this question is unambiguious: Neither· exclusively a man nor a woman. True Jewishness, according to the story, depends exclusively on the commitment to the Law of Moses. The attempt to define Jewishness by excluding women is deemed irrelevant and thus strange to Jewish traditions and history. A woman such as Susanna, committed to the Law even to the cost of her life, is a true Jew, "a daughter of Judah" (????). Men like the elders, opposing the Law, are dangerous strangers, "the seed of Canaan" (???). Based on such a conclusion, Susanna unambiguiouslessly reads as a gender equalizing narrative.
- Humanities