Masculinity in the Court Tales of Daniel: A Test Case for Gender Studies in the Hebrew Bible Open Access

DiPalma, Brian Charles (2016)

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This dissertation has two goals: (1) understanding masculinity in the court tales of Daniel and (2) advancing gender studies in the Hebrew Bible. After situating this project amidst recent developments in biblical studies (ch. 1), I identify four issues for which this dissertation serves as a test case (ch. 2). Chapter three describes a sociological perspective on gender and masculinity that inform this study. Chapter four analyzes the stories in light of what scholars have associated with masculinity in other portions of the Hebrew Bible and its ancient Near Eastern context to develop hypotheses about masculinity in the stories. Testing those hypotheses begins with a discussion of a culturally predominant masculinity that involved three interrelated activities: (1) physical violence in war, (2) producing sons to perpetuate a father's name, and (3) protecting and providing for subordinates (ch. 5). Subsequently, I describe an ancient Near Eastern phenomenon of scribal masculinity that illumines the depiction of Daniel and his colleagues (ch. 6). Chapter seven demonstrates how the court tales of Daniel engage ideas about male beauty in the cultural context. Finally, I assess how characters use discourse to do gender in the court tales of Daniel (ch. 8). The study concludes by revisiting the issues identified in chapter two to advance the growing area of gender studies in the Hebrew Bible (ch. 9). Throughout the study, I show how the court tales of Daniel (re)produce configurations of masculinity in their socio-historical context. I also raise consciousness about dynamics that (re)produce gendered inequality, which aligns with significant emphases and goals of feminist biblical scholarship. Another major contribution of this study is its account of the multiple masculinities in the Hebrew Bible that disrupt a strictly binary construction of gender, which aligns with significant concerns of queer biblical scholarship.

Table of Contents

Chapter One - Introduction 1

1.1 Introduction 1

1.2 Contextualizing this Study in Biblical Scholarship 3

1.3 Goals, Argument Summary, and Outline 13

Chapter Two - Issues for Gender Studies in the Hebrew Bible 16

2.1 Introduction 16

2.2 The Issues 16

2.2.1 A Question of Method: How to Study Gender in Biblical 16


2.2.2 Disciplinary Fit of Studies of Masculinity 22

2.2.3 Political Implications of Masculinity Studies? 26

2.2.4 What Happens When Characters Deviate from Gendered Norms? 30

2.3 Summary 33

Chapter Three - On Gender and Masculinity: Framing the Case Study 34

3.1 Introduction 34

3.2 Studying Gender in Biblical Literature Informed by Sociological 35


3.3 Doing Gender in Sociological Scholarship 36

3.4 Masculinities 42

3.5 Concluding Comments 54

Chapter Four - Masculinity in the Court Tales of Daniel: Identifying the Issues 56

4.1 Introduction 56

4.2 Hypotheses about Masculinity in the Court Tales of Daniel 57

4.2.1 Daniel 1 - Competing Masculinities? Braun Versus Beauty and 57


4.2.2 Daniel 2 - The Power of Knowledge 64

4.2.3 Daniel 3 - The King's Erect Statue: A Ritual of Subordination 74

Gone Awry

4.2.4 Daniel 4 - Is Nebuchadnezzar Good at Being a Male Ruler? 79

4.2.5 Daniel 5 - Belshazzar and the Problem (of) Son(s) 85

4.2.6 Daniel 6 - Repetition and Its Significance 89

4.3 Summary of Hypotheses 95

Chapter Five - A Predominant Masculinity and the Court Tales of Daniel 97

5.1 Introduction 97

5.2 Sources for Testing the Hypotheses 99

5.3 A Culturally Predominant Masculinity 100

5.3.1 Violence, Power, and Masculinity 100

5.3.2 Producing Sons, Names, and Masculinity 115

5.3.3 Protection, Provision, and Masculinity 124

5.4 Conclusions 130

Chapter Six - Scribal Masculinity and the Court Tales of Daniel 133

6.1 Introduction 133

6.2 Scribal Masculinity in the Ancient Near East and 135

the Hebrew Bible

6.3 Conclusions 159

Chapter Seven - Beauty, Masculinity, and the Court Tales of Daniel 162

7.1 Introduction 162

7.2 Approaching Beauty and Masculinity 162

7.3 Beauty and the Court Tales of Daniel 178

7.4 Conclusions 183

Chapter Eight - Discourse, Masculinity, and the Court Tales of Daniel 185

8.1 Introduction 185

8.2 Beyond Persuasion: Problems with "Persuasive Speech" 185

8.3 Another Approach: Using Discourse to Do Gender 192

8.4 Discourse and Masculinity in the Court Tales of Daniel 196

8.5 Conclusions 207

Chapter Nine - Advancing Gender Studies in the Hebrew Bible 208

9.1 Introduction 208

9.2 Summary of Argument and Areas for Future Research 208

9.3 Revisiting the Issues 213

9.3.1 A Question of Method: How to Study Gender 213

in Biblical Literature?

9.3.2 What Happens When a Narrative Character Deviates from 217

Culturally Predominant Norms of Gender?

9.3.3 Political Implications of a Study of Masculinity in 219

Biblical Literature

9.3.4 Disciplinary Fit of a Study of Masculinity in 225

Biblical Literature

Bibliography 229

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