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Title: The 'powers' of personification : rhetorical purpose in the "Book of Wisdom" and the Letter to the Romans
Author: Dodson, J. R.
ISNI:       0000 0001 0991 5475
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2008
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While scholars have often found value in comparing Wisdom and Romans, a comparison of the use of personification in these works has not yet been made, despite the striking parallels between them. Furthermore, while scholars have studied many of these personifications in detail, no one has investigated an individual personification with respect to the general use of the trope in the work. Instead, most of this research focuses on a personification in relation to its nature as either a rhetorical device or a supernatural power. Within each of these discussions, scholars have reached a stalemate with no immediate solution in sight. Therefore, we will seek to push beyond this debate by evaluating the evidence in a different light---that of its purpose within the overall use of personification in the respective work and in comparison with another piece of contemporaneous theological literature. First, we shall define personification and discuss proposed purposes for the trope from the ancient world to today (Section I). Once this has been done, we shall investigate the use of personification in Wisdom (Section II) and those in Romans (Section III) in order to make comparisons and conclusions about the contexts and purposes of the personifications (Section IV). The significance of comparing the personifications in the two works is that it reveals foundational premises of the respective authors. For example, for the sage, not all are depraved, but only those fools responsible for the entrance of Death. Therefore his audience should reject Death in order to embrace Sophia. For Paul, all humanity is depraved and, with Adam, responsible for the entrance of Sin and Death, from whom his audience had already been delivered. Moreover, in Wisdom the climax of God's work is his Creation of the incorruptible Cosmos who has in the past and will in the future fight for the righteous against the wicked on the day of the Lord. In Romans, it is the work of Jesus Christ by the will of God, who created the world as well as submitted it to corruption, from which Creation eagerly awaits redemption with the righteous on the day of Christ. From our research, we shall propose that in Wisdom and Romans, personification is most often employed in contexts dealing with 1) the problem of death, 2) the problem of Israel's sin and the resulting divine punishment upon her, and 3) the suffering of the righteous. Within these discussions, the authors employ personification to distance God from the origin of evil, to deflect attention away from the problem of righteous suffering to the positive sides of the experience, or to defer the solution for the suffering of the righteous to the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available