Antithetic Structure in Biblical Hebrew Poetry by Joze Krasovec

By Joze Krasovec

This learn of antithesis in biblical poetry arose out of the author’s past paintings on merism in his 1977 doctoral dissertation. the current paintings seeks to target the phenomenon of antithesis in keeping with se, and to ascertain its position in consultant examples of assorted biblical genres: “epic,” “psalmic,” “prophetic,” and “didactic” literature. It concludes with an inventory of situations of antithesis within the Hebrew Bible and an test at large categorization, in addition to a few hypothesis concerning the foundation of the elemental kinds of antithesis.
No doubt through its try and concentration recognition at the particular phenomenon of antithesis and its meeting of definitions and examples, this research should be of curiosity to a few scholars of biblical type. regrettably, notwithstanding, it truly is open to feedback on numerous issues. first of all, its very topic: why “antithesis”? The worthiness of this classification for coming near near Hebrew sort isn't really puzzled by way of this learn, yet in basic terms assumed, possibly simply because antithesis has been the sort of well-liked characteristic in descriptions of classical Greek and Latin rhetoric—indeed, a few of these descriptions (Aristotle, Quintilian, et al.) are marshaled within the author’s fight to outline antithesis for the Bible. yet that the phenomenon he identifies as antithesis may larger be approached within the context of broader points of biblical sort, even perhaps lower than another rubric, isn't one among this study’s theoretical matters: to the contrary, the writer is at pains to tell apart antithesis from all demeanour of items that resemble it yet are extra adequately referred to as by means of different names (“merism,” for example). but now not all such makes an attempt at isolation and concentration are unavoidably precious, and accordingly the reader can't support feeling that, at the one hand, antithesis by no means does get remoted and outlined in any convincing type, and, at the different, attention of antithesis besides its excluded look-alikes could have been way more enlightening.

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The contrast is based on the extreme difference between these two women, the difference in places and action. A simple bedouin woman in her tent (24) is set in contrast to the mother of the mighty warrior Sisera in her palace. J ael kills Sisera in a most dishonorable manner; while his mother and "the wisest of her captains' ladies" attribute the long delay ofSisera's return to the abundance of the spoil. The circumstances are so different in each case that an antithetic vocabulary common to both can only be very scanty.

FinaIly, there is the question ofhow to arrange the treated texts, which are of very unequal size and genre. After evaluating different possibilities, we have preferred to organise the texts according to the principle of literary categories, even though we are weIl aware how controversial this principle may be. In our case the following four literary categories are relevant: epic, psalmic, prophetic, and didactic. 18 INTRODUCTION c) Methodological Remarks The basic consideration regarding method proceeds from the fact that more or less aH the antithetic units that go beyond the mere formalism of antithetic paraHelism and thus dis play the personal style of individual authors are mostly unique and therefore strictly speaking without parallei.

Their corn mon cause is the compulsion to construct antitheses, and that as directly and expressively as possible. How suit able the antithetic structure with its two components was for such expression is also demonstrated by the fact that more or less aU curse-blessing passages - even within prose narrative - have a poetical form. Sorne have a more complex structure, but most of them are quite concise 22 • 20 Cf. also P. R. Ackroyd, "The Composition of the Song of Deborah", VT 2 (1952) 161: "The curse is amplified in the sketches of the tribes which responded and those which failed to respond; the blessing introduces the traditional story ofJael and Sisera, skilfully made more vivid by the juxtaposition of the scene with Sisera's mother".

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