The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism

The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism

The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism

The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism

Synopsis

For years scholars of biblical poetry have defined parallelism as the simple correspondence of one verse, phrase, or word with another. In this book, Adele Berlin approaches biblical parallelism as a linguistic phenomenon, as a complex interplay among all aspects of language. Her goal is to get at the basics of what biblical parallelism is and how it works. Berlin's examination of the grammatical, lexical, semantic, phonetic, structural, and psychological aspects of parallelism yields an elegantly simple model that reveals the complex workings of this phenomenon. Her book will be a valuable guide for both scholars and students of biblical poetry.

Excerpt

To paraphrase Amos 7:14, I am not a linguist nor a disciple of linguists, but a biblical scholar. Yet I have found in linguistics many insights that can be used to explain the biblical text. the aspect of the text which I have singled out for consideration here is parallelism--a phenomenon which is highly visible in the Bible and which has also figured prominently in studies by linguists, especially those of the late Roman Jakobson. in fact, it was from Jakobson's writings that I first glimpsed a view of parallelism alternative to the one presented by most biblicists. Jakobson's influence is obvious in the coming chapters, for, while I am well aware of the criticisms that have been levelled against him, I am convinced that his approach has more potential than any other for providing us with a comprehensive and integrated view of parallelism in all its facets. At the same time, I have not limited myself to Jakobson or to structural linguistics, but have ventured into psycholinguistics and textlinguistics. My grasp of these disciplines is admittedly incomplete, but it seemed to me enough, having found in them certain insights, to use these insights to further our understanding of biblical parallelism. the purpose of this book, then, is not to espouse or substantiate a particular linguistic theory or methodology, but to use linguistics, in its broadest sense, to explain parallelism as it occurs in the Hebrew Bible. I have attempted to get at the basics of what biblical parallelism is and how it works.

This book has taken a number of years to complete. It was begun with a study of the grammatical aspect of biblical parallelism which was supported by an neh Summer Stipend (1978) and published in the Hebrew Union College Annual L (1979), 17-43. a later study, which now forms part of chapter 4, was published as Parallel Word Pairs: a Linguistic Explanation in Ugarit-Forschungen 15 (1983), 7-16. the bulk of the work was completed in 1982-83 with the help of grants from the American Association of University Women and the General Research Board of the University of Maryland.

During these years I benefited from contacts with several colleagues and it is my pleasure to acknowledge them here. Michael O'Connor read an earlier draft of chapter 1 and offered extensive and perceptive comments.

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