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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Scholars often argue that physical description in the Hebrew Bible narrative is used primarily to convey important information for the understanding the plot, rather than a clear visual image of the character, for the reader. This chapter examines some of the implications of this argument for the critical study of disability and nondisability imagery in biblical narrative. It argues that the two most frequent types of physical description in biblical narrative, attractiveness and disability, operate according to the same narrative logic as physical description in general. They are not necessarily included to indicate an extraordinary or unusual physical feature. Instead, they are described to help explain the plot of the story regardless of how unusual or commonplace the feature or condition was in ancient Israelite cultures. The chapter makes use of this argument to question reading strategies that assume that disability is presented as abnormal in biblical narrative.

Keywords: disability, beauty, normality, abnormality, body, plot, Hebrew Bible, Genesis, Ruth, Rachel

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