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ix + 236 pp.

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For She Has Heard
The Standing Stone in Joshua 24 and the Development of a Covenant Symbol
Elizabeth Berne DeGear

In this unusual and fascinating study, Elizabeth Berne DeGear draws on both biblical studies and psychoanalytic theory to interpret the role of the standing stone erected by Joshua in the sanctuary at Shechem.

The presence of a listening stone in the sanctuary distinguishes the ritual space in Joshua 24, yet this religious symbol has received little scholarly attention. DeGear begins with the question: What is this numinous feminine presence serving as witness to the people’s covenantal relationship with their God? Comparing this stone’s function with the function of other covenant stones in the Hebrew Bible and throughout the ancient Near East, DeGear illuminates both the power of the symbol and its dynamics in the people’s religious development.

In psychoanalytic mode, DeGear goes on to show how humans create and use symbols differently at various positions along the path to maturity. Her study presents a new perspective on how covenant symbols in the Hebrew Bible function in the development of the communities using them.

The present analysis of this one biblical symbol offers scholars and students of biblical and religious studies the tools to engage in psychologically informed consideration of covenant. With its focus on sanctuary, symbol and psyche, DeGear’s exploration of the stone extends from the world of ancient Israel to today’s worship communities, where the Bible itself is used as a covenant symbol. What emerges is a picture of how the standing stone and other mediating symbols function in the religion of communities in the Bible and beyond.

Elizabeth Berne DeGear is an interdisciplinary scholar teaching in the fields of biblical studies and depth psychology. She is a chaplain for the Center for Urban Community Services in New York City.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 70
978-1-909697-74-4 hardback
Publication August 2015

Part I. Background for a Biblical–Scholarly Approach to Joshua 24.25-27
1. An Introduction to Joshua 24
2. Background on Shechem Sanctuaries
3. Background on the Religious Use of Standing Stones in the Bible
4. Scholarship on Standing Stones in the Ancient Near East

Part II. An Exploration of the Symbolic Function of the Stone in
Joshua 24

5. Analysis of the Standing Stone in Joshua 24.25-27
Excursus: The Unexplained Blank Space
6. Other Possible Significations of the Standing Stone in Joshua 24
7. Beyond Signification: The Stone as Functioning Symbol

Part III. Applying Psychoanalytic Theories on Human Development to an Understanding of Biblical Covenants
8. Transitioning to a Psychoanalytic Approach
9. The Persecutory Position and Symbolic Equation
10. Deuteronomy 12.1-3 in Light of the Theory of Symbolic Equation
11. The Depressive Position and the Development of Symbolic Functioning
12. Joshua 24.24-27 in Light of Depression Position Dynamics
Excursus: Distinguishing between One Covenantal Position and Another: Defining חקים ומשׁפטים and חק ומשׁפט
13. D.W. Winnicott’s ‘Capacity for Concern’ and the Constructive Use of Symbols
14. Joshua’s Stone in Light of Symbolic Living and the Capacity for Concern
15. De-it-ing the Stone

Part IV. Applications in the World of the Bible Reader Today
16. A Transition to Perspectives on Reading the Bible Today
17. Fundamentalism as a Covenantal Position
18. Pastoral Considerations for Worship Communities Today
19. The Symbolic Function of the Stone in the Psyche of Today's Bible Reader