Hanne Løland Levinson publishes new book, The Death Wish in the Hebrew Bible: Rhetorical Strategies for Survival
Hanne Løland Levinson's new book, The Death Wish in the Hebrew Bible: Rhetorical Strategies for Survival (Cambridge University Press) is the first book to systematically investigate the texts in the Hebrew Bible in which a character expresses a wish to die. Contrary to previous scholarship on these texts that assumed these death wishes were simply a desire to escape suffering, Løland Levinson employs narrative criticism and conversation analysis, together with diachronic methods, to carefully hear each death-wish text in its literary context. She demonstrates that death wishes embody powerful, multi-faceted rhetorical strategies. Grouping the death-wish texts into four main rhetorical strategies of negotiation, expression of despair and anger, longing to undo one's existence, and wishing for a different reality, Løland Levinson portrays the complex reasons why characters in the Hebrew Bible wish for death. She concludes that the death wishes navigate the tension between longing for death and fighting for survival—a tension that many live with also today as they attempt to claim agency and autonomy in life.