Hebrew Poetry and the Appositive Style: Parallelism, Requiescat in pace

In: Vetus Testamentum

Abstract

Michael O’Connor (whose 1980 opus, Hebrew Verse Structure, provides a compelling linguistically grounded description of the poetic line) has called the endurance of Lowthian parallelism a “horror” that wreaks havoc on lexical semantics and “is beyond the comprehension of any sensitive student of language.” Why does a model known to be a descriptive failure for a century persist in teaching resources and commentaries? It is because nothing compelling has risen to replace it. O’Connor’s linguistic analysis of the line offered the first piece to replacing the traditional model, but O’Connor’s model was more compelling for the structure of the poetic line than for the relationship of lines. In this study I take up interlineal syntax and offer an analysis that compliments and completes O’Connor’s approach, allowing us to provide a proper burial for the admirable but ultimately unworkable Lowthian parallelism.

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