The kindness of irony: A psychological look at irony in 2 Samuel 11

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The study into texts suspected of irony is always fraught with difficulty. The reasons for this are as follows; (a) irony rests in ambiguity, (b) it is the nature of irony not to give itself away completely, and (c) irony is a difficult topic to define. A further difficulty in the detection of irony in biblical texts is found in cases of probable redaction in which imprecise editing mimics some of the signs of irony. With all of this in mind, I suggest that it is possible to get closer to the author's intentions by a systematic approach to the text; rather than filling with instinctive guesses the gaps in narratives left by insufficient information. I propose that historical criticism and psychological hermeneutics are invaluable in establishing a framework around a narrative. These approaches are necessary in order to choose an interpretation when it is difficult to detect ironies and in cases in which meanjngs can go either way.
In this essay [ have chosen to apply the results of Dews', Kaplan's, and Winner's research as it is found in the article, "Why Not Say it Directly? The Social Functions of Irony", 1 to create a framework around the narrative contained in 2 Samuel 11. Dews', Kaplan's, and Winner's research is based on three experiments conducted on undergraduate students to test the effects of irony. The results of these experiments suggest that the reasons people use irony are, to be funny, to save face, to lessen the damage of an insult, to be in control of themselves, and to avoid harming the relationship with the addressee of the irony.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntellect encounters faith - a synthesis
Subtitle of host publicationA festschrift in honor of Jay Harold Ellens
EditorsJohn Tracey Greene
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781443863049
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2014


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