Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative

Overview

The pages of the Hebrew Bible are filled with stories - short and long, funny and sad, histories, fables, and morality tales. The ancient narrators used a variety of stylistic devices to structure, to connect, and to separate their tales - and thus to establish contexts within which meaning comes to light. What are these devices, and how do they guide our reading and our understanding of the text? Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative explores some of the answers and ...

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Overview

The pages of the Hebrew Bible are filled with stories - short and long, funny and sad, histories, fables, and morality tales. The ancient narrators used a variety of stylistic devices to structure, to connect, and to separate their tales - and thus to establish contexts within which meaning comes to light. What are these devices, and how do they guide our reading and our understanding of the text? Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative explores some of the answers and shows scriptural interpretation can be a matter of style."

Part one of Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative examines a wide variety of symmetrical patterns biblical Hebrew narrative uses to organize its units and subunits, and the interpretive dynamics those patterns can imply. Part two addresses the question of boundaries between literary units. Part three examines devices that biblical Hebrew narrative uses to connect consecutive literary units and subunits.

Chapters in Part One: Structures of Organization are "Reverse Symmetry," "Forward Symmetry," "Alternating Repetition," "Partial Symmetry," "Multiple Symmetry," "Asymmetry." Chapters in Part Two: Structures of Disjunction are "Narrative Components," "Repetition," and "Narrative Sequence." Chapters in Part Three: Structures of Conjunction are "Threads," "Links: Examples," "Linked Threads: Examples," "Hinges: Examples," and "Double-Duty Hinges: Examples."

Jerome T. Walsh, PhD, is a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of Botswana. He is the author of 1 Kings in the Berit Olam (The Everlasting Covenant) Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series for which he is also an associate editor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

. . . a fine resource for serious biblical study - while also helpful to liturgists, homilists, lectors.
Crux

Jerome Walsh combines a remarkably keen eye for structural dynamics with an uncanny ability to render into clear English distinctive features of Hebrew language and syntax. . . . Readers of this book will never read the Hebrew Scriptures in the same way again.
Robert L. Cohn, Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Studies, Lafayette College

Through careful examination of innumerable texts Walsh offers a comprehensive grammar of the style and structure of Hebrew narrative. His valuable insight, made available to those who read the Bible in translation, enhance an expanding bibliography in literary studies. Serious students of the subject cannot afford to neglect this contribution.
Phyllis Trible, Emerita, Union Theological Seminary

This accessible book . . . provides a welcome and important resource and will benefit both students and seasoned interpreters alike.
Ashland Theological Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814658970
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 2/28/2001
  • Series: Berit Olam Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Jerome T. Walsh, PhD, is a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of Botswana. He is the author of 1 Kings in the Berit Olam (The Everlasting Covenant) Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series for which he is also an associate editor.
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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations xiii
Introduction 1
Part I Structures of Organization
Symmetry and asymmetry 7
Repeated elements 8
Organizing elements and organized units 10
Balance of subunits 11
Interpretation 11
1. Reverse Symmetry 13
A. Concentric symmetry 15
1. Numbers 12:13 15
2. 1 Kings 1:33-35 15
3. Leviticus 24:13-23 16
4. Jonah 1 18
5. 2 Chronicles 25:1-28 20
6. Genesis 2:4b-3:24 21
7. 1 and 2 Kings 23
8. 1 Kings 1:1-2:12a 25
B. Chiastic symmetry 26
1. 1 Kings 19:14 26
2. Genesis 12:16b 27
3. Genesis 9:6a 27
4. 1 Kings 21:1-16 28
5. 2 Kings 8:7-9:13 29
6. 1 Chronicles 11:1-12:41 30
7. Genesis 25:12-35:26 31
2. Forward Symmetry 35
1. Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:1-31 37
2. 1 Kings 11:1-8 38
3. Genesis 2:18-25 39
4. 1 Kings 11:31-39 41
5. 2 Kings 9:14-11:20 43
3. Alternating Repetition 47
1. 1 Kings 2:36-46a 48
2. Genesis 12:1 49
3. 1 Samuel 1:12-13 50
4. 1 Kings 20:16-21 50
5. 2 Kings 17:6-41 52
6. 1 Samuel 8:1-12:25 54
4. Partial Symmetry 57
Inclusion 57
Epitome 59
A. Internal inclusion 60
1. 1 Kings 2:38b, 41 60
2. 1 Kings 1:24-27 61
3. Esther 5:9-14 61
4. Ruth 4:9-11a 63
B. Framing inclusion 64
1. 1 Kings 2:12b, 46b 64
2. Genesis 18:16, 22 65
3. 1 Samuel 15:10-12, 34-35 65
4. 1 Kings 12:30-31; 13:33-34 67
5. 1 Kings 6:1-9:10 68
C. External inclusion 69
1. 2 Samuel 14:24, 28 69
2. Genesis 37:36; 39:1 70
3. Exodus 6:10-13, 26-30 71
D. Complex inclusion 73
1. 1 Kings 4:1-20, 21-25 73
2. Genesis 1 74
3. Regnal formulas 74
E. Introductory epitome 76
1. Genesis 10:1 76
2. 1 Kings 18:1 77
F. Concluding epitome 78
1. Genesis 2:1 78
2. Exodus 3:14-15 78
5. Multiple Symmetry 81
A. Composite symmetry 82
1. 1 Kings 5:1-12 82
2. 1 Kings 6:9-36 84
3. 2 Kings 18-20 85
B. Complex symmetry 88
1. Ruth 1-4 88
2. Genesis 11:27-22:24 89
3. 1 Kings 1-11 92
C. Compound symmetry 94
1. Genesis 11:1-9 94
2. 2 Kings 17:25-34a 96
3. 2 Kings 21:19-26 97
6. Asymmetry 101
A. Unmatched subunit 103
1. 1 Kings 2:39 103
2. 1 Kings 18:9-14 103
3. Genesis 1:26-28 105
4. Genesis 21:1-7 106
B. Non-correspondence 107
1. 2 Kings 2:25 107
2. 1 Kings 1:33-35 108
3. 1 Kings 11:31-39 108
C. Transposition 110
1. Exodus 6:10-13, 26-30 110
2. Genesis 1-11 111
3. 1 Kings 3:16-4:34; 9:26-10:29 113
Part II Structures of Disjunction
7. Narrative Components 119
Characters 120
Setting: locale 122
Setting: time 122
Narrative voice 124
A. Change in characters 125
1. 1 Kings 2:1-10 125
2. 2 Kings 7:3-11 126
3. 1 Kings 1:15-37 128
4. Ruth 2:1-3:18 129
5. 1 Kings 18:21-40 131
B. Change in setting: locale 132
1. 2 Kings 10:12-17 132
2. 2 Kings 18-20 132
3. Genesis 18 133
4. 1 Kings 18:6-16 134
5. Numbers 20:22-21:20 135
C. Change in setting: time 135
1. Genesis 24 135
2. 1 Kings 2:39 138
3. Genesis 22:4 139
4. 2 Kings 18:13 139
5. 1 Kings 18:3-4 139
D. Change in narrative voice 140
1. 1 Kings 18:12c-13 140
2. 1 Kings 21:20-26 141
3. 1 Kings 3:16-28 141
8. Repetition 145
A. Repetition of information 147
1. Genesis 5:32; 6:9-10 147
2. 2 Kings 8:28-9:2; 9:14-16 148
3. 1 Samuel 17:12a 149
B. Repetition of subject nouns 150
1. Genesis 21:25 150
2. 1 Kings 12:26 150
3. 1 Chronicles 14:3b 151
C. Interruptions of discourse 152
1. Exodus 5:4-5 152
2. Exodus 3:14-15 152
3. 1 Kings 22:28b 153
9. Narrative Sequence 155
Narrative tense and simple past 155
Breaks in narrative sequence 157
The verb "to be" and verbless clauses 159
A. Broken narrative sequence beginning a unit 160
1. Genesis 3:1 160
2. Genesis 18:17 160
3. Exodus 3:1 160
4. Genesis 4:1-2 161
5. Jonah 1:4 162
6. Genesis 39:1-6 162
B. Broken narrative sequence ending a unit 162
1. Genesis 1 162
2. Genesis 2:25 163
3. 1 Samuel 15:34 163
4. 1 Kings 18:6b 163
5. 1 Kings 17 164
6. 2 Samuel 18:18 165
C. Broken narrative sequence interrupting a unit 166
1. Ruth 1:14b 166
2. Jonah 1:10b 166
3. Genesis 23:10a 167
4. 1 Kings 13:1-10 168
5. Genesis 41:47-42:5 169
Part III Structures of Conjunction
A. Threads 177
1. Genesis 2:4b-3:24; 4:1-16 177
2. 1 Kings 1-11 178
3. Judges 17-21 179
4. 1 Kings 13 179
5. Genesis 18-19 180
B. Links 182
1. Genesis 2:25; 3:1 182
2. 1 Kings 20:43; 21:4 182
3. 2 Kings 2:25; 3:1 182
4. Judges 8:33; 9:4 183
5. Ezra 3:13; 4:1 183
6. Genesis 16:16; 17:1 183
C. Linked threads 184
1. 1 Kings 12:25 184
2. Ruth 1:22 184
3. Regnal formulas 184
4. Between books 185
5. 1 Kings 1-2 186
D. Hinges 186
1. Genesis 26:33-35; 27:1 186
2. Genesis 2:4 187
3. Genesis 23:1-25:11 187
E. Double-duty hinges 188
1. 2 Kings 17:6 188
2. 2 Kings 2:15b 188
3. 1 Kings 11:26-43 189
Conclusion 191
Selected Bibliography 195
Author Index 199
Subject Index 200
Scripture Index 202
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