Constituent Postponement in Biblical Hebrew Verse
The structure of Biblical Hebrew (BH) verse remains an open question today despite the extensive amount of investigation that the question has inspired. Much headway has been made in terms of describing the features and devices that find expression in BH verse, but little has been done to make a compelling and consistent distinction between BH verse and BH prose. The question remains: what differentiates BH verse from prose? One distinguishing feature of BH verse can be found in its "relaxed" syntactic structure, wherein certain syntactic constructions that would be unviable in prose are acceptable in verse. One such construction is the occurrence of syntactic constituent postponements that are viable in the environment of verse but not in prose. In the verbal clause, such postponement would include (1) irregular subject- and (2) object-placement in a clause after constituents that they would normally precede in prose, and (3) placement of the verb in the third constituent position of a clause, a position that excludes the verb according to the syntactic rules of prose. A close analysis and evaluation of the constituent postponements found only in BH verse are required to develop a more precise description of that corpus. This study gathers all of the cases of verb-, subject- and object-postponement found in a broad sample of BH verse, categorizes the occurrences, and evaluates their relationship to poetic devices such as syntactic, semantic, and phonological parallelism and gapping, and syntactic dependency. This project begins with an assessment of constituent order rules for verbal clauses in BH prose, or more particularly Classical Biblical Hebrew (CBH) prose, which provides a "control" against which postponement in BH verse could be viewed in relief. The sample of BH verse included Genesis 49, Exodus 15, Numbers 23-24, Deuteronomy 32 and 33, Judges 5, 2 Samuel 1, Psalms 1-25, 78, 106, and 107, Isaiah 40-48, Habakkuk 3, Zephaniah 1-3, Zechariah 9. This corpus is designed to reflect a variety of biblical texts which represent diverse periods, genres, and subjects. Occurrences of constituent postponement were culled from this sample corpus, analyzed, categorized, and evaluated.
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