REL 394 Prophets Ezekiel - The Prophecy of Ezekiel I...

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1 The Prophecy of Ezekiel “I reduced you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you” (Ezek 28:18) Introduction VIDEO: Knowing (“Determinism vs. Randomness”) 6:38 Analyze Dr. Koestler’s character Analyze Caleb’s character Analyze the character and focus of the class discussion in this clip The Prophet Ezekiel head2right Jack Miles condescendingly refers to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel as (in order) “the manic, the depressive, and the psychotic articulation of the prophetic message” ( God: A Biography [New York: Knopf, 1995] 197), adding that “the madness in question is not, to be sure, simple madness, but the controlled madness that modern society sometimes honors in great artists. But neither is this madness so wholly unlike the other that the word madness cannot be used for it at all” (p. 198; emphasis original). head2right No other prophet puzzles readers so much as Ezekiel. R. H. Pfeiffer calls him “the first fanatic in the Bible,” imagining him to be a tortured soul imprisoned by a “black and savage atrocity of mind” ( Introduction to the Old Testament [New York: Harper, 1948] 543). W. F. Albright, however, hails him as “one of the greatest spiritual figures of all time,” imagining that the best yardstick for determining “the genius of Hebrew prophets lies in the fact that they are not normal” ( From the Stone Age to Christianity [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957] 248-9).
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2 head2right Some try to psychoanalyze Ezekiel, imagining him to be a victim of “catatonic schizophrenia … unconscious sexual regression, schizophrenic withdrawal, and delusions of persecution” (E. Broome, “Ezekiel’s Abnormal Personality,” JBL 64 [1946] 277-92 ). What, some ask, is to be made of Ezekiel’s strange actions and visions in which he envisions himself transported to distant places? Broome suggests that some of these symbolic actions are “hallucinatory in character, and not actually performed” (Broome, p. 289). head2right A more recent writer goes much further, hypothesizing Ezekiel’s wall-digging and face-covering (Ezek 12:12) to be “Oedipal” attempts “to protect himself from the arousing and terrifying sight of his mother’s genitals,” and his swallowing of the divinely-given scroll as a symbol of an unconscious desire on his part “to perform fellatio” (D. Halperin, Seeking Ezekiel: Text and Psychology [University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 1993] 229, 134). head2right Frantz Fanon, however, explores how state terrorism can and does impact whole cultures in his studies of the psychological impact of European colonization in North Africa (see esp. The Wretched of the Earth [New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1963] trans. from 1961 French ed.), and Fanon’s approach offers a much more attractive (not to say intellectually defensible) way to explain Ezekiel and his message without resorting to ahistorical hypotheses about the prophet’s alleged psychological pathologies (see D. Smith-Christopher, “Ezekiel on Fanon’s Couch: A Postcolonialist Dialogue with David Halperin’s Seeking Ezekiel ,” in
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