n Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages - Animal imagery in Psalm 22

Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-0131


Abstract experiences of anxiety and despair are portrayed in Ps 22 as existential encounters of dehumanisation and bodily disfiguration. The dehumanisation and disfiguration are caused by the threat of and fear for the enemy, represented in stark animal imagery. The experiences of the threat and fear posed by bellicose animals are mapped onto the abstract experiences of the "enemy" causing agony and even death. This paper deals with the animal metaphors in terms of their shared source domain experiences as well as their significance for the substance of the complaint of the supplicant. The compositional arrangement of the personal complaint, enclosed by the enemy complaint, in the psalm is also taken into account in support of the main argument. It is concluded that the imagery of animals is thematically and intrinsically adjoined by the vision of death, portrayed in Ps 22:115-16, together with the self-introduction (I am a worm) in v. 7. The shared properties of the source domain experiences of tearing and devouring animals are metaphorically played out on the human body in suffering and distress and are the causes for death-like experiences.

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