20220MD OT2 Hebrew Poetry – Exam 1

Hebrew Poetry
No Rhyme, assonants, concept based. Periodic accentuation. Units formulated.
Contrasts in ideas.

Why is Hebrew poetry important?
There are poetry in almost every book, especially in Prophets. Prophets were proclaiming heart of God to God’s people. Poetic form was easy to remember.

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Problem with Hebrew Poetry
The bible never uses the word “poetry”.

James Kugel claims
There is no such things as poetry in the OT, what we see is more of a continuum of literature, a listing of basic events on one end to a heightened rhetoric of parallelism on the other end of the continuum.

Characteristics of Hebrew Poetry
Irregularities in meter and syntax.
Uses lines as basic units of building blocks.

Hebrew Poetry Building Blocks
Monatic – One line
Diatic – Two lines
Tiatic – Three lines
Strophe – made of group of lines, like paragraph, that are range or develop of one idea.

Psalm 46 uses 2 Strophes
Verse 7 and 11 both end with “the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Parallelism
Structuring of lines in such a way that they exhibit patterns of literary symmetry and balance. Structure creates balance of vocabulary, form and structure of text, and meaning and thoughts or ideas.

What is the distinguishing characteristics in Hebrew Poetry?
Parallelism

Bishop Robert Lowth – Father of Hebrew Poetry
Synonymous Parallelism
Line 1 = line 2 in meaning (not popular)

Antithetic Parallelism
Line 1 is the opposite of line 2 in meaning

Synthetic Parallelism
Line 2 in some way completes line 1

James Kugel explains Hebrew Poetry
Hebrew poetry may be understood as A, what’s more, B. (Synthetic, but ties to Synonymous and Antithetic)

Robert Alter
Held to the same view as Kugel. Intensification of meaning.

Semantic Parallelism
Complete Parallelism
Compensatory Parallelism
Elliptical Parallelism
Chiastic Parallelism
Antithetical Parallelism

Complete Parallelism
Every element in line 1 has a counterpart in line 2.

Example of Complete Parallelism
Psalm 49, verses 1 and 2.
Hear this vs Give ear
All peoples vs All inhabitants of the world
Low and high vs Rich and poor.

Compensatory Parallelism
Number of elements in line 1 is equals the number of elements in line 2, but one element from line 1 is dropped and replaced with something else in line 2.

Example of Compensatory Parallelism
Psalm 24 verse 1.
Missing “Lord’s” from line 1 and replaced with “therein” in line 2

Elliptical Parallelism
An element in line 1 is dropped out but nothing added to line 2.

Example of Elliptical Parallelism
Psalm 25:4 – “Lord” is dropped out from line 1.

Chiastic Parallelism
First element of line 1 corresponds to the last element of line 2.

Line 1: A – B – C & Line 2: C – B – A
Line 1: A – B – C & Line 2: B – A

Example of Chiastic Parallelism
Psalm 51 – ABBA Parallelism

A – For I know
B – My Transgression
B – My Sin
A – Ever before me

Middle element is the center of the meaning.

Sin (transgression) is the central point of this verse

Antithetical Parallelism
Line 2 is opposite to line 1

Example of Antithetical Parallelism
Psalm 90 verse 6 – Flourishes and Withers

Logical Parallelism
Narrative Verse Parallelism
Cause and effect Parallelism
Purpose Verse Parallelism
Question and answer Parallelism
Comparative Verse Parallelism
Qualifying Verse Parallelism

Narrative Verse Parallelism
Line 2 builds on the narrative of line 1

Example of Narrative Verse Parallelism
Psalm 37:32 – Line 2 builds on line 1 to show why wicked keeps watch on righteous.

Cause and effect Parallelism
Line 2 will open with the word “because” or “for”

Example of Cause and effect Parallelism
Psalm 37:24

Purpose Verse Parallelism
Line 2 begins with a word “that” or “in order that”

Example of Purpose Verse Parallelism
Psalm 119:11

Question and answer Parallelism
Asks and answers a question

Example of Question and answer Parallelism
Proverbs 27:4, answer is “no one”

Comparative Verse Parallelism
Element in line 1 is compared to line 2

Example of Comparative Verse Parallelism
Proverbs 21:9 – It is better…

Qualifying Verse Parallelism
Line 2 qualifies the statement in line 1

Example of Qualifying Verse Parallelism
Proverbs 3:27

Rhetorical Parallelism
Emblematic Parallelism
Climatic Parallelism (staircase parallelism)
Numerical Parallelism

Emblematic Parallelism
Line 1 contains a figure that is compared to line 2, using the word “like” or “as”.

Example of Emblematic Parallelism
Proverbs 11:22

Climatic Parallelism (staircase parallelism)
2 or 3 words in successive lines creating emphasis

Example of Climatic Parallelism (staircase parallelism)
Psalm 96:1

Numerical Parallelism
Same as Climatic, but uses numbers

Example of Numerical Parallelism
Proverbs 6:16