Ion

: masc.

resulting in the sequence: KING—QUEEN—QUEEN—KING. See also Esth 5,3.6.8; 7,2.3; 8,5.102

12. Envelope figure. The envelope figure (or inclusio) is not only indicative of poetry (though it can occur in prose), it also marks off a particular segment as verse. In the example just quoted (Jgs 9,8-15) the expression 'to anoint a king' occurs both in the preamble (v. 8a) and in the final stanza (v. 15). Another example is Ez 16,4:

in« m'nn DIP On the day you were born

... [8 or 9 lines of poetry]... inN m^in ova On the day you were born.

13. Break-up of stereotype phrases. This topic is related to indicator 10, 'word-pairs', but merits a separate section. In prose, significant words occur in juxtaposition, as in Jgs 13,3:

P m^l mm You shall conceive and bear a son;

(similarly Gen 29,34). The same sets are split up in poetry, forming parallel couplets of the type:

Bl?n linn You conceive chaff,

¡rp n^m you bring forth stubble. (Isa 33,11; cf. Job 3,3)

Using this criterion it is possible to determine whether a passage is prose or not; a convenient example is Isa 22. Watters has shown103 that there is high percentage of parallel word-pairs, particularly in w. 8b-ll and 15-25. Other non-prose texts include Isa 4,3-6; 7,16.10-17; 8,1-4; 14,1-3; 19,16-20. Conversely, Job 1,1-2,13 is in fact prose.104

14. Repetition in various forms. Repetition pure and simple is

102. Porten, in Welch, Chiasmus, 178-180.

103. So Watters, Formula Criticism, 117-126. The same criterion had already been proposed by W. Whallon, Formula, Character and Context (Cambridge, Mass., 1969) 148-150.

104. Following Watters, Formula Criticism, 120-122. By the same token Watters shows Ruth to be prose, not poetry.

frequent enough in prose texts, witness Jer 7,4, mrr 'wn nin" 'wn nen mrr, 'It is: Yahweh's temple; Yahweh's temple; Yahweh's temple',105 and the triple repetition in Ez 7,1-2. More significant are repetitions in the form of the envelope figure (see indicator 12, above), refrain (see presently) and the like, i.e. structured or patterned repetition.

15. Gender-matched parallelism. This particular type of parallelism is used in prose (examples are Ex 2,1-10; Lev 5,6; Jos 11,6; Ruth 1,8-9; 2,21-22) but is very much commoner in poetry. Its presence can corroborate that passages singled out as verse have been correctly identified. The two nouns in the first colon of Lev 26,19 (considered verse by some scholars)106 are both masculine. Instead, a feminine noun is paired with a noun of the same gender in the second colon:

■?ri33 arret? DN <nnr I shall make your heavens (m.) like iron (m.) n»riJ3 033-IN nw and your land (f.) like brass (f.).

In Dt 28,23 (also verse in a prose context) the pattern has been altered slightly (to m. + f. // f. + m., perhaps to underline the reversal effect) but can still be recognised. Similarly, Gen 1,2—considered verse on the strength of its many word-pairs107—has the gender-pattern f. + m. // m. + f. // f. -(- m. Another example is Gen 1,10.107 In all these passages gender-matched parallelism is present, showing them to be verse, as posited.

16. Tricolon. The well-knit, carefully structured tricolon is only found in true verse so that its presence is an almost unequivocal pointer to poetry. After an introductory monocolon ('His sons did not follow in their father's footsteps'), 1 Sm 8,3 continues:

irenn -ii-in ID-l They were intent on profit; "inennp'l they took bribes; BBE'O 1D"1 they perverted justice.

Perhaps this example is open to question; it was chosen to show the issue is not always clear-cut. Better are Gen 28,17; 5,1; etc. (see table). See, too, 1 Kgs 5,11; Ez 16,4.

Under the heading 'Other' come sound-related components such as rhyme (17)—chiefly end-rhyme, and other sound patterns (18)

105. The plural pronoun refers to the temple complex; cf. Watson, Bib 53 (1972) 204. Also, Isa 6,3a.

106. See D.R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets (BibOr 16; Rome, 1964) 38-42.

107. Kselman: 1978, 163-164.

including paronomasia, assonance, alliteration and the like. Such elements occur in prose, too, but once again it is a question of high density.

Finally, the table of indicators lists negative pointers to poetry: where prosaic elements are missing there is at least the likelihood of verse.

19. Absence or rarity of prose elements. The prose elements in question are the relative pronoun, the definite article and the object-marker. Also to be included in this section is consecutive waw. Studies have been carried out which show that, statistically, the more such particles are used in a text the less that text should be classified as poetry.108 To illustrate rather than prove this assertion we can look at Nb 12,6-8 which Kselman has already shown to be poetry on other grounds.109

MWaJ iTlT'DN If there be a prophet among you, iHinN rtN nt<"iD3 I make myself known to him in a vision;

ertro in a dream I speak with him.

TOD "H3I? J3-Nb Not so (with) my servant Moses;

Kin }DM *!T3-'?33 in all my household he (alone) is faithful.

12—21N HB-^N HB Mouth to mouth I speak with him, niTO N1?! ntODl in clarity and not in riddles;

era' mm room the form of Yahweh he beholds.

Neither the relative particle nor the object-marker occurs even once while the presence of the definite article is indicated only by the vowels (which are secondary);110 there is no consecutive waw. These findings corroborate the arguments of Cross and Kselman showing that this pointer (absence of prosaic elements) is a valuable guide to assessing how 'poetic' a passage might be.111

108. See DN. Freedman, 'Pottery, Poetry and Prophecy: An Essay on Biblical Poetry\JBL 96 (1977) 5-26, esp. 5-8. He concludes: 'Statistically the results establish beyond cavil that the occurrence of these particles is a valid discriminant, and the difference in distribution reflects an intrinsic distinction between prose and poetry'

109. F.M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, Mass., 1973) 203204; J.S. Kselman, 'A Note on Numbers XII 6-8', VT 26 (1976) 500-505. Kselman argues from chiastic patterning (BCDD'C'B'A', following Cross), and from assonance, word-pairs, wordplay and comparison with older poetic material.

110. Similarly, Kugel, Idea, 90: 'In its elided form the definite article is not represented in the consonantal text'.

Some additional comments

It must be emphasised that the indicators spelled out above are not the only pointers to poetry; there are many others such as the use of figurative language (simile, metaphor) or imagery generally, and the whole range of non-structural devices (irony, allusion, hyperbole and so on). Further, the mere presence of one or even of several of these indicators proves very little. Ultimately, the decision owes a great deal to mature reflection which will consider content as well as form, with an eye on traditions both in Classical Hebrew and in ancient Near Eastern literature generally. For example, content is significant since we know that very few laws (not to mention contracts, letters and the like) are in poetry. Similarly, very little narrative—even 'heroic narrative'—is cast in poetic form (see §4.6 on epic). One expects a prophecy to be verse, but this is by no means always the case. With these provisos in mind, then, we can look at a difficult example and apply the indicators set out above and determine whether the passage is poetry or prose.

EXAMPLE: Ez 23,2-4

This passage, generally considered prose, has been chosen to illustrate how the indicators described above can be used to test whether a text

is poetry or not. Not all the components of the table are present, of course, but enough to provide a working model. The passage will first be set out and translated; then will come the discussion, followed by

conclusions.

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