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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55160
Doc. No:TL25114
Call number:‭3216408‬
Main Entry:Paul Brian Thomas
Title & Author:Sizing things up: Gigantism in ancient Near Eastern religious imaginationsPaul Brian Thomas
College:University of Missouri - Kansas City
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:362
Abstract:The presence of giants in the Hebrew Bible has puzzled commentators and scholars. Explication of these monsters has focused upon rationalizing the presence of such clearly mythological creatures or simply concluding that their presence is explained through religious syncretism. I propose that biblical giants must be taken seriously as mythological creatures, and scholars must allow for the reality these monsters may have had in ancient Near Eastern imaginations. To accomplish these goals, I have constructed a methodology that accounts for the nearly universal appearance of these creatures. Utilizing the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Vladimir Propp, I have subjected a variety of giant narratives to a structural and morphological analysis. Through this analysis I demonstrate that giant narratives struggle with several related binary oppositions, including: order/chaos, culture/undesired culture, and large/small. Moreover, following suggestions offered by Mikhail Bakhtin in his work Rabelais and His World, I show that widespread occurrences of giant tales may be accounted for through the narrative focus upon the giant's body. I apply the results of the structural analysis to giants in ancient Near Eastern narratives, while asking historically contextualized questions. For example, in light of the possible forms and functions of the giant uncovered in the structural analysis, how can one account for biblical and ancient Near Eastern depictions? To formulate questions such as these, I follow the historcco-morphological method of Carlo Ginzburg, who maintains that a morphology can look at specific historical questions over vast periods of time. I also demonstrate that the specific form of the biblical giant is dictated by in-group and out-group dynamics. The social position of the in-group as it relates to the "other" determines the presentation of the giant. In these narratives, which are often explicitly political, the "other" is depicted in monstrous terms---as giants. When understood as monsters, biblical giants function as representatives of chaos who must be conquered periodically for the maintenance of the "right order" of the in-group.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Health and environmental sciences; Education; Ancient; Gigantism; Hebrew Bible; Monsters; Near Eastern; Religious imaginations; Religious education; Sports medicine; Bible; 0527:Religious education; 0575:Sports medicine; 0321:Bible
Added Entry:G. L. Ebersole
Added Entry:University of Missouri - Kansas City