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Verbal Meaning: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Framework for Interpretive Categories of the Biblical Hebrew Verbal System as Elaborated in the Book of Ruth

Ljungberg, Bo-Krister LU (2001)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Bibelhebreiskans verbsystem (som radikalt skiljer sig från den moderna hebreiskans) har fascinerat exegeter, lingvister, teologer och översättare under århundraden, ja, årtusenden.



Liksom många språk av utomeuropeiskt ursprung har den klassiska hebreiskan inte riktigt passat i den kostym som traditionell grammatik försett den med. Den traditionella grammatiken är modellerad efter latinets språkliga struktur, men de flesta språk såväl i historisk tid som i nutid har annan uppbyggnad.



Det är speciellt vad verben uttrycker som står i fokus i denna avhandling. I europeiska språk indikerar de tempus, eller tid. De flesta forskare är överens om att bibelhebreiskan... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Bibelhebreiskans verbsystem (som radikalt skiljer sig från den moderna hebreiskans) har fascinerat exegeter, lingvister, teologer och översättare under århundraden, ja, årtusenden.



Liksom många språk av utomeuropeiskt ursprung har den klassiska hebreiskan inte riktigt passat i den kostym som traditionell grammatik försett den med. Den traditionella grammatiken är modellerad efter latinets språkliga struktur, men de flesta språk såväl i historisk tid som i nutid har annan uppbyggnad.



Det är speciellt vad verben uttrycker som står i fokus i denna avhandling. I europeiska språk indikerar de tempus, eller tid. De flesta forskare är överens om att bibelhebreiskan uttrycker något annat, nämligen 'aspekt'. Detta innebär inte att forntidens människor i Israel var ointresserade av tiden eller att de inte kunde uttrycka tidsbegrepp, men de använde andra komponenter i språket än verbet för detta. Bibelhebreiskan är heller inte unikt i att primärt uttrycka 'aspekt' genom sitt verbsystem. Många forntida och nutida språk gör det också, men just därför att traditionell grammatik tillämpad på västerländska språk inte primärt behöver begreppet, så är det relativt okänt.



Vad är då aspekt? För att ge exempel på en sorts aspekt kan jag säga: 'Sanna målar'. Vi som svensktalande får då en ungefärlig bild av vad som pågår. En del språk har nu i själva verbets uppbyggnad (morfologi) möjlighet att uttrycka en aspekt som vi denna sats kan ana som en tolkingsmöjlighet, men behöver en omskrivning för att tydligt uttrycka: 'Sanna håller på att måla', 'Sanna är i färd med att måla', 'Sanna sitter och målar' -- i motsats till 'Sanna målar', rätt och slätt. De aspektbaserade språken klarar dessutom detta lika galant i förfluten tid som i tillkommande tid.



Denna avhandling innehåller en detaljerad datorlingvistisk analys av Ruts bok i Gamla testamentet. Inte endast ''aspekt' står i fokus, utan också besläktade fenomen som 'tidsindikering' och 'modalitet'. Dessutom behandlas textlingvistiska (diakursanalytiska) begrepp som 'grund' och 'perspektiv', liksom de litterära 'synvinkel' och 'intrig'. Utgångspunkten är att flera kommunikativa dimensioner (syntaktisk, semantisk, pragmatisk) samtidigt ger mening åt en text, samt att det gör en viktig språklig skillnad om man berättar eller samtalar.



Den teologiska analysen avvisar försök till dekonstruktion, och hävdar att bibeltexen relaterar till historien och har mening. (Less)
Abstract
The verbal system of Biblical Hebrew has intrigued the minds of exegetes, linguists, theologians, and translators for centuries. With regard to the verbal system, Biblical Hebrew is radically different from Modern Hebrew. Furthermore, it doesn't fit the traditional structure of grammar modelled on Latin.



It is argued that the interpretive categories of aspect, temporal location, and modality should play a role in the understanding of the verb system. (Tense and mood are grammaticalisations of temporal location and modality, respectively.) Each of these categories draws primarily on a different communicative dimension of language: aspect on the syntactic; tense on the semantic; and modality on the pragmatic. Features of... (More)
The verbal system of Biblical Hebrew has intrigued the minds of exegetes, linguists, theologians, and translators for centuries. With regard to the verbal system, Biblical Hebrew is radically different from Modern Hebrew. Furthermore, it doesn't fit the traditional structure of grammar modelled on Latin.



It is argued that the interpretive categories of aspect, temporal location, and modality should play a role in the understanding of the verb system. (Tense and mood are grammaticalisations of temporal location and modality, respectively.) Each of these categories draws primarily on a different communicative dimension of language: aspect on the syntactic; tense on the semantic; and modality on the pragmatic. Features of these dimensions, which are simultaneously present in language, are seen to inform the interpretive categories (variables).



The book of Ruth is analysed by computational linguistics (Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universitet Amsterdam), thereby giving priority to the syntactic dimension. Here the scope is above the level of the sentence: it is text linguistic or discourse analytic. At this level the variables of grounding and perspective are investigated. Parameters (formal categories) are defined according to the literary-linguistic theory of Weinrich as implemented for Biblical Hebrew by Schneider, and adapted for computer analysis by Talstra. Clause types are grouped according to the orientational domains narrative or discursive.



This grouping has a counterpart on the literary poetic level; that of telling and showing, which are seen as intrinsic genres in the tradition of Hirsch. At this level, the literary devices of plot (structure and theme) and point of view are also brought to bear on the book of Ruth.



A fourth level consists of a traditional Christian ideological (theological) reading of the book of Ruth. It is consistent with linguistic variables to see a relationship between the biblical text and history and for there to be a message: a theme of 'hesed' (steadfast love) which fits with a formal description of the plot. Deconstructionist readings, on the other hand, read from the 'gaps' and not from the 'givens' and are not seen as valid in an exegetical sense.



The main purpose of this investigation is to construct a coherent framework within which to study verbal meaning in Biblical Hebrew. Part of the results is the construction of such a framework. The theory is demonstrated to fit the data in the book of Ruth. Conclusions are drawn on the interrrelatedness of its formal and interpretive parts, e.g. that narrative (telling) is aspectually perfective in nature, and discursive (showing, dialogues) is imperfective. Interpretive categories are also related, e.g. aspect and grounding: heterogeneous situation types (accomplishment, achievement) and waPC (wayyiqtol) constitute primary foreground in narrative, whereas grounding in discursive requires pragmatic methods of rhetorical intent. Both aspect and perspective relate to text time rather than story time. Deontic modality is preponderant in discursive, and epistemic modality in narrative. Subordination is not marked in Biblical Hebrew. A discussion of related views is undertaken throughout. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • PhD Eskhult, Mats, Uppsala University
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
perspe, grounding, text linguistics, subordination, mood, modality, tense, temporal location, aspect, ideology, level, pragmatics, semantics, syntax, communicative dimensions, Old testament exegesis, book of Ruth, verbal system, Framework, biblical Hebrew, Bible, Bibelvetenskap, Non-Christian religions, Världsreligioner (ej kristendom), Linguistics, Lingvistik
pages
396 pages
defense location
October 19, 2001, at 10 a.m. Carolinasalen, Kungshuset Lundagård, Lund
defense date
2001-10-19 10:00
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
05db2a70-69b6-4a4f-9418-1c8390db79b1 (old id 20254)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 12:07:37
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:18
@misc{05db2a70-69b6-4a4f-9418-1c8390db79b1,
  abstract     = {The verbal system of Biblical Hebrew has intrigued the minds of exegetes, linguists, theologians, and translators for centuries. With regard to the verbal system, Biblical Hebrew is radically different from Modern Hebrew. Furthermore, it doesn't fit the traditional structure of grammar modelled on Latin.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
It is argued that the interpretive categories of aspect, temporal location, and modality should play a role in the understanding of the verb system. (Tense and mood are grammaticalisations of temporal location and modality, respectively.) Each of these categories draws primarily on a different communicative dimension of language: aspect on the syntactic; tense on the semantic; and modality on the pragmatic. Features of these dimensions, which are simultaneously present in language, are seen to inform the interpretive categories (variables).<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The book of Ruth is analysed by computational linguistics (Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universitet Amsterdam), thereby giving priority to the syntactic dimension. Here the scope is above the level of the sentence: it is text linguistic or discourse analytic. At this level the variables of grounding and perspective are investigated. Parameters (formal categories) are defined according to the literary-linguistic theory of Weinrich as implemented for Biblical Hebrew by Schneider, and adapted for computer analysis by Talstra. Clause types are grouped according to the orientational domains narrative or discursive.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
This grouping has a counterpart on the literary poetic level; that of telling and showing, which are seen as intrinsic genres in the tradition of Hirsch. At this level, the literary devices of plot (structure and theme) and point of view are also brought to bear on the book of Ruth.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
A fourth level consists of a traditional Christian ideological (theological) reading of the book of Ruth. It is consistent with linguistic variables to see a relationship between the biblical text and history and for there to be a message: a theme of 'hesed' (steadfast love) which fits with a formal description of the plot. Deconstructionist readings, on the other hand, read from the 'gaps' and not from the 'givens' and are not seen as valid in an exegetical sense.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The main purpose of this investigation is to construct a coherent framework within which to study verbal meaning in Biblical Hebrew. Part of the results is the construction of such a framework. The theory is demonstrated to fit the data in the book of Ruth. Conclusions are drawn on the interrrelatedness of its formal and interpretive parts, e.g. that narrative (telling) is aspectually perfective in nature, and discursive (showing, dialogues) is imperfective. Interpretive categories are also related, e.g. aspect and grounding: heterogeneous situation types (accomplishment, achievement) and waPC (wayyiqtol) constitute primary foreground in narrative, whereas grounding in discursive requires pragmatic methods of rhetorical intent. Both aspect and perspective relate to text time rather than story time. Deontic modality is preponderant in discursive, and epistemic modality in narrative. Subordination is not marked in Biblical Hebrew. A discussion of related views is undertaken throughout.},
  author       = {Ljungberg, Bo-Krister},
  keyword      = {perspe,grounding,text linguistics,subordination,mood,modality,tense,temporal location,aspect,ideology,level,pragmatics,semantics,syntax,communicative dimensions,Old testament exegesis,book of Ruth,verbal system,Framework,biblical Hebrew,Bible,Bibelvetenskap,Non-Christian religions,Världsreligioner (ej kristendom),Linguistics,Lingvistik},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {396},
  title        = {Verbal Meaning: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Framework for Interpretive Categories of the Biblical Hebrew Verbal System as Elaborated in the Book of Ruth},
  year         = {2001},
}