Hyperbaton and Greek Literary Style in Hebrews

In: Novum Testamentum
Author: S.M. Baugh 1
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  • 1 Westminster Seminary California, Escondido, California, USA

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“Hyperbaton,” the separation of words that are semantically and syntactically inter-connected, is used in the epistle to the Hebrews nearly sixty times. Classicist Daniel Markovic has shown that various kinds of hyperbaton were used by Greek literary authors to indicate the boundaries of their basic informational unit, the colon (κῶλον), and sometimes of larger units of discourse like the period (περιόδος). This essay confirms Markovic’s conclusions by studying the instances of hyperbaton in Hebrews which the author used to frame colons while also adding some secondary reasons for its use throughout the composition.

  • 8

    Cf. Fowler, “Aristotle,” 98-99.

  • 11

    Markovic, “Hyperbaton,” 127-128.

  • 18

    Fraenkel, “Kolon und Satz II,” 93. Fraenkel treated various forms of “clitics” like ἄν and certain pronominal forms as indicators of the start of a colon. It should be noted that some of these enclitic pronominal forms (like οἱ [=αὐτῷ] or σφεων [=αὐτῶν]) are not present in nt Greek—though see clitic µοι, µε, σε, etc. As warrant for this procedure note the statement of Demetrius that asyndeton leads to “disjointed” and “unclear” statements, “For the beginning of each clause [κῶλον] is obscured by the lack of connectives” (Style 192).

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  • 21

    So Scheppers, The Colon Hypothesis, 36-38.

  • 24

    See Dik, Word Order, 7, 72, 79-80.

  • 25

    So Devan Matić, “Topic, Focus, and Discourse Structure: Ancient Greek Word Order,” Studies in Language 27 (2003) 573-633 (see p. 577 for hyperbaton). See also S.R. Slings, “Figures of Speech and their Lookalikes: Two Further Exercises in the Pragmatics of the Greek Sentence,” in Grammar As Interpretation: Greek Literature in its Linguistic Contexts (E.J. Bakker, ed.; Leiden, New York, Cologne: Brill, 1997) 169-214, who suggests a “Setting (Orientation)” function be added to Dik’s basic clause structure.

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  • 28

    E.g., Stanley E. Porter, “Ancient Rhetorical Analysis and Discourse Analysis of the Pauline Corpus,” in The Rhetorical Analysis of Scripture: Essays from the 1995 London Conference (jsntss, 146; S.E. Porter and T.H. Olbricht, eds.; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) 249-274; esp. pp. 261-264; Cynthia Long Westfall, A Discourse Analysis of the Letter to the Hebrews: The Relationship between Form and Meaning(London and New York: T&T Clark, 2005) 25. Westfall critiques Louw’s method because his “concept of the colon and the subjective and the interpretive element involved in determining the structure of the cola are limitations of the method.”

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