Ian Atkinson
Cambridge Digital Bible Research; University of Cambridge
“Psalm clusters and discourse (dis)continuity”
In general linguistics, Discourse Analysis (DA) has been applied to a wide variety of text genres, yet within Biblical Hebrew (BH) scholarship, the discourse structure of poetry remains under-investigated. Further complications arise when one seeks coherence across commonly-understood discourse boundaries, raising the question: do existing DA frameworks provide explanatory power for the macro-structure of long stretches of poetic discourse, beyond vague notions of ‘thematic’ shifts or the indications of titles (both of which have their importance)?
Deictic Space Theory provides a formal framework which traces the ‘distance’ of temporal, spatial and modal ‘deixis’ across discourse with measurable geometric visualizations particularly valuable for verbal construal and participant analysis; Possible Worlds Theory protects the intersubjective nature of communication, attitudinal perspective and the desituated nature of readers of ancient texts, tracing the given entities and events throughout the discourse and therefore the macro-information status represented in the common ground of the discourse. In this paper I will employ these two complementary theories to explore the coherence of the Psalm cluster of Pss 90-92 in contrast to the inclusion of Ps 89. I hypothesize that these two tried and tested DA approaches should confirm the macro-discontinuity between Ps 89 and the beginning of the Psalter’s Book 4, while maintaining overall continuity throughout the Psalm cluster of Pss 90-92. However, it is posited that this twin approach involving both granular grammatical analysis and shared semantic content can achieve greater clarity and nuance regarding exactly how this (dis)continuity is construed within and across BH texts.


Joel Atwood
Gud Nius Yunivesiti Felosip; Church Missionary Society, Australia
“Cohesion and (In)coherence in Isaiah 13-27”
The structure of the book of Isaiah has been analysed to an almost ridiculous extent from the largest divisions of one or many ‘Isaiahs’ through to the most minute portions finely-sifted for literary form, historical reference, or more. There is an inevitable tension between the desire to distinguish and analyse units of text (of whatever size) and the fact that these units are presented as a unified ‘macrotext.’ This paper explores the relationship between the local coherence of smaller units of the book and their larger collective coherence in Isaiah 13-27 as a test case. Following the multi-modal approaches of Stephen Levinsohn, Elizabeth Robar, Ronald Langacker, and Christopher Fresch, we will examine the use of discourse markers and particles, transitivity, choice and variation in verbal forms, grounding strategies, and thematic concerns that allow this portion of Isaiah to distinguish between textual units while fluidly linking them to one another.


Jason S. DeRouchie
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Hands to the Plow Ministries, The Master’s Community Church (Kansas City, Kansas)
Zephaniah’s Macrostructure: a Textlinguistic-Rhetorical Analysis
Zephaniah’s book exhibits a high level of rhetorical and structural unity. Four alternative approaches to the book’s organization predominate: (1) Shifts in speech forms mark a three-part structure (Ben Zvi, Roberts, Bennet, Motyer, Vlaardingerbroek). (2) Shifts in speaker signal a developing prophetic drama (House). (3) Thematic development highlights progression of thought (Wendland and Clark). (4) A thematic chiasm organizes the whole (Sheehan). This study synthesizes my own textlinguistic-rhetorical approach to the book’s macrostructure and presumes that exegesis and theology are principally literary disciplines that interpret Scripture in the light of its close, continuing, and complete contexts. When interpreting prophetic discourse, this study discerns Zephaniah’s thought-flow and argument by carefully assessing discourse features like connectors, other discourse markers, discourse types, verb patterns, participant shift, repetition of phrases, and semantic/logical relationships. The method melds classic genre analysis with principles of text linguistics. This model is akin to Sweeney and Floyd’s new form criticism, but my theological assessment differs at key points, and we organize the book differently especially concerning the structuring function of 3:8 and 3:14’s imperatival clauses. This study grows out of my years of work on Zephaniah for ZECOT.


Joshua Harper
Dallas International University
The Discourse Structure of Haggai: Comparing Several Approaches
I intend to apply a novel approach to Haggai in MT and LXX. Haggai is overtly an anthology of 4 oracles, delivered over a 4 month period. Thus, Haggai provides a potential test case for whether anthologies can have overall discourse-pragmatic contexts. Elements in favor of this include the general focus of Haggai’s oracles on resuming work on the temple and support for the Judean leaders Zerubabbel and Jeshua. Examining the book in both Hebrew and its Greek translation may reveal whether the translators picked up on implicit or explicit discourse features in the Hebrew text. If there were time for the analysis, it would be beneficial to expand this study to the similar oracles of Zechariah, who also began his prophetic ministry in 520 BC.


Peter C. W. Ho
Singapore Bible College
The Macrostructural Designs of the Psalms, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah
Macrostructural shaping of poetic and prophetic texts is one of the missing gaps currently in the holistic and integrative studies of these books. Even within literary approaches, holistic analyses of poetic/prophetic books have been traditionally limited to the level of the poem or single prophetic discourse. And in the past three/four decades, many of these large-scale literary studies adopt a methodology of looking for semantic parallels across texts. These studies, unfortunately, generate a lot of data with little consensus.
I have found that there are many different techniques at work in the large-scale shaping of poetic and prophetic texts. Key techniques of shaping are often a combination of linear, concentric, and intertextual methods. The macrostructural analysis, used together with semantics and the traditional historical-grammatical approaches, provides a robust interpretation of the text. This paper seeks to show, through my observations of the macrostructural shapes in the Psalms, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, that the compositional of these books in their final forms are cogent and coherent. Once observed, they offer the interpreters key insights into the message of the book.


Eric McConnell
Baptist Bible Seminary, PhD Candidate; Suncoast Baptist Church of Port Charlotte, Florida, Lead Pastor
The Turbulent Times and Message of Zechariah: Using Discourse Analysis to Demonstrate the Structure of a Minor Prophet
Recent scholarship has argued for treating Zechariah as a single book due to similar thematic aspects and intertextual allusions seen throughout the book. This paper will offer a unique contribution, as it will explore linguistic reasons that the book may be treated as a single discourse. This paper will evaluate the book’s macrostructure by tracking the elements of discourse, which are highlighted clearest in the instances of narration and direct speech, as well as any zones of turbulence, such as the proliferation of off-line material. By identifying the zones of turbulence, the peaks of discourse may be objectively demonstrated, which will outline the macro-segmentation units of the unified discourse. Special attention will be given to the emic structures within the text of Zechariah, such as the structure and function of prophetic oracles found within the book. A modified version of Hoyt’s method of evaluating prophetic oracles will be used that identifies and compares the structures of the various oracles, while special attention will be given to the function of hortatory discourse within the oracles.


Donald McIntyre
A Conversational Analysis of Habakkuk
Alter has noted the emphasis of direct speech for narratives and B. M. Rocine has offered a discourse analysis model which prioritizes embedded speech within narratives for micro analysis. How can embedded and direct speech be incorporated into macro-analysis? Conversational analysis may provide an intriguing solution. By integrating certain elements of linguistics conversational analysis may offer a way to discern larger structures in monologue and dialogue laden genres. The prophecy of Habakkuk is a continuous dialogue between the prophet and God and is of manageable size making it an ideal initial case study. This paper will seek to analyze the book of Habakkuk through the four interactional organization strategies described by Paul Ten Have. After the analysis has been completed quantitative and qualitative findings will be detailed as well as an assessment of its usefulness in later studies.


Ryan Sikes
Cambridge Digital Bible Research
Parallel Psalms
The same principles that govern the relationships between/among units at the lower levels of poetic discourse (i.e., lines of poetry within a verse) are operative at higher levels of discourse as well. For example, Psalm 2 relates to Psalm 1 in much the same way that the b-line of a couplet relates to the a-line. Just as the b-line contains a number of linguistic correspondences to the a-line, and just as it sharpens, heightens, or intensifies the meaning of the a-line, so Ps. 2 contains a number of linguistic correspondences to Ps. 1 and develops the themes and characters of Ps. 1 with increased vividness and specificity. The juxtaposition of these two psalms and the correspondences between them invite the reader to view them as two parts of a whole, just as lines within a verse are meant to be read as parts within a whole, the meaning of which transcends the parts (A + B = C). When Ps. 1 is read as part of the larger whole which is Pss. 1-2, Ps. 1 takes on new meaning. Other psalm groupings may be similarly described (e.g., Pss. 111-112; Pss. 108-110), and it’s possible that the same principles govern relationships at even higher levels of discourse (e.g., Books I-II of the Psalter).


David Smiley
University of Notre Dame
‘Were I to Count Them, They Would Outnumber the Grains of Sand’: A Distant Reading of Hebrew Poetry
A decade after Franco Moretti’s seminal book “Distant Reading”, the field of biblical studies has not widely embraced computational approaches to reading large portions of Scripture. Despite the increase in accessibility to digital editions of texts and the encroachment of technological advancements into the realm of the humanities, Hebraists rarely incorporate statistical thinking into their tools for discourse analysis. By using machine learning techniques and hypothesis testing, this presentation will investigate the basic assumption that clause length is a marker of prominence by applying clustering and classification algorithms on the entire Hebrew Psalter.


Douglas Smith
Columbia International University
Assessing the Macrostructure of the Twelve: the Interface of Discourse Features and Paratextual Traditions
Do the books comprising the Twelve function as an anthology of independent works or do their selection and arrangement also suggest that they communicate a composite message? Although modern scholars have noticed the recurrence of key words and themes across the book of the Twelve, the application of discourse analysis within the framework of the paratextual traditions of the book may shed further light for reinforcing, clarifying, or countering such observations. This study will observe how lower-level discourse features such as interclausal connections, focus structures, and lexical and morphosyntactic patterning interface with the paratextual elements of canonical placement, book order, sense divisions, and sedarim to assess the plausibility of whether and how each book’s macrostructure forms part of a larger synthesis that can be summarized as the communicative purpose of the Twelve.


Ian Turner
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
‘I Spoke to the Prophets’: Describing Cohesion and Coherence in Hosea 12-13 with SFL-based Discourse Analysis
As linguistically adequate methods of biblical Hebrew (BH) research and HB/OT studies continue to demonstrate their value, newer approaches to familiar interpretive issues are coming to light. The issue of textual (in)coherence is especially germane to the final form of Hosea, as readers have pointed out its numerous textual difficulties, unusual syntax, and disjointed organization between subunits (Sherwood, 1996; Landy, 2011). Some have used certain aspects of the book’s apparent fragmentation as a point of departure for proposals of the book’s compositional history (Yee, 1987; Wolff, 1974), while others have proposed ways of looking beyond the apparent incoherence of Hosea’s final form to appreciate aspects of its literary artistry and unity (Eidevall, 1996; Morris, 1996). Based on the work of Halliday, Hasan, and others, Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) is one linguistic approach that is particularly helpful for describing the strategies, meaning systems, and lexical and grammatical resources that language users deploy to create textual coherence and cohesion. This study uses discourse analysis modeled on SFL to describe how Hosea 12–14 creates textual cohesion leading to coherence. I also use Hasan’s SFL-based work on verbal art and literary theme, which is often omitted from biblical discourse analysis but is highly relevant for describing how linguistic patterns like cohesion are relevant for literary-thematic coherence. Two linguistic patterns, cohesion and clause combining (Isaksson 2015), are analyzed, and a final step synthesizes these units of analysis into an overall description of the literary-thematic coherence of select units in Hosea 12–14. This study hopes to demonstrate the value of how SFL-based discourse analysis can add the kind of theoretical precision and methodological transparency that allows others to confirm, challenge, or build upon discourse analysis and interpretation of the HB/OT.


Terrance Wardlaw
Dallas International University; SIL International
Theory, Method, and the Macroanalysis of Ezekiel’s Prophetic Discourse
How does one determine the main idea and structure of a Biblical book? Throughout the Twentieth and into the Twenty-first century, scholars applied various linguistic methodologies to the study of the Biblical text as a means for quantifying and adding rigor to various interpretive methods, as well as providing new frameworks of understanding for approaching unresolved interpretive issues. More recent linguistic investigations include various analyses of the Hebrew verbal system, the analysis of information structure at the sentence-level, the use of cognitive linguistics to analyze metaphor and words, as well as various forays into discourse analysis. The present investigation expands the scope of previous linguistic explorations by developing a theoretical framework for quantifying the proposed global meaning and propositionalized semantic structure of a text. Although canonical interpreters and those applying literary approaches have discussed “meaning” and “theme” for decades, and have proposed conflicting outlines of scriptural texts and books, little work has been put forth to date that rigorously quantifies the move from local-level syntax to abstracted, macro-level, propositional meaning. Accordingly, the following discussion first raises considerations from the work of Teun A. van Dijk as the foundation for moving from the micro- to the macro-level of a discourse, as well as his distinction between literary superstructure and abstracted semantic macrostructure as a means for defining the role of cognitive poetics in macroanalysis. Second, select aspects of Walter Kintsch’s Construct-Integration model will provide theoretical foundations of text comprehension in order to account for how readers of Scripture comprehend a text in the development of abstract propositions and the storage of snippets of text in long-term working memory. Third, considerations from Relevance Theory will describe the inferential nature of language and refine the theoretical understanding of what occurs in the move from what is explicitly stated in the Biblical text to an author-intended interpretive inference (an implicated premise, conclusion, or propositionalized summary of global meaning). Fourth, this theoretical framework will be applied selectively to the Book of Ezekiel, which is largely composed of discrete oracles and units joined paratactically. This discussion will account for the move from local-level oracles to macro-level meaning across oracle boundaries possessing no overt discourse connectors, and this by appeal to the proposition-building nature of text comprehension, including semantic propositions deriving from the comprehension of literary texture (e.g. recurring vocabulary, phrases, echo, and other cohesion devices). Although this discussion of theory and method is applied to prophetic literature, its foundation on the universal processes of comprehension imply the validity of the results across all genres of Biblical literature. In terms of application, the resulting method (a) proves suggestive for future evaluations of various textual readings, such as the story or narrative of the Psalter; (b) provides methodological rigor for identifying textual macrostructure for teaching and preaching the Bible; and (c) outlines a more detailed understanding of macrostructure for developing comprehension testing questions for evaluating the main idea, prominence, and pragmatics of a minority-language Bible translation in relation to the underlying source text.


Ernst Wendland
Stellenbosch University
The Discourse Design of Micah: A Literary-Structural Perspective
The Hebrew compositional organization of the prophecy of Micah continues to be a source of perplexity and disagreement for ordinary Bible students and published commentators alike. Hence the question that this conference poses is apropos: “Can Hebrew poetic and prophetic discourse be analyzed on the macro level?” The present investigation therefore has the following aims: (a) to propose a summary description of the principal aspects of biblical discourse design, (b) to outline a basic method for carrying out a literary-structural analysis of any poetic or prosaic text of Scripture, (c) to apply this approach in a selective manner to produce a provisional discourse stanzaic and strophic outline of the entire book of Micah, and finally, (d) to briefly suggest why such macro-studies are important for scholars, teachers, preachers, and Bible translators by exemplifying how different methods of textual examination lead to disparate published results. These outcomes then need to be comparatively evaluated for their credibility and contextual applicability to the exegetical or educative task at hand.


Nathan Maroney
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Son of Man, Declare What You See and Its Measurements! – The Structure of the Book of Ezekiel
Recent studies of the Hebrew Bible have rightly noted that analysis, commentary, and translation of a text must attend not just to grammar, but to higher level structural features of a text. But methods for discerning this higher level structure abound. This paper will examine three distinct methodologies of structural analysis – form critical, discourse linguistic, and final-form-canonical-compositional – as they relate to the study of Ezekiel. The paper will note the various starting points of the approaches, and how these result in different conclusions. We will also note some of the striking similarities in conclusions from the different approaches. It will be argued that some of the conclusions from the different approaches can be integrated together to push the study of the structure of Ezekiel forward.


Terry Iles
Harvard University
Cohesive Devices and Prophetic Oracle Collections: Soundings from the Book of Isaiah’s Nations Collection
An historically appropriate methodology for the analysis of the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible must attempt to account for the principles of organization which governed the shaping of prophetic books. In this paper, I aim to contribute to the development of such a methodology by observing evidence for cohesive ties between discrete oracles within the collection of nations prophecies in the book of Isaiah, focusing specifically on chapters 13–20. I argue that the concept of cohesion, usually applied to smaller units of discourse, nonetheless provides a useful and appropriate starting point for analyzing the design of collections of prophetic oracles. My analysis of cohesive devices within Isaiah 13–20 will proceed in two main parts. First, I consider the effect of cohesion on the literary shape of the collection, identifying both linear and concentric patterns that emerge from the distribution of cohesive elements. This raises the question of the relationship between discourse analysis and stylistics. Second, I explore how historical allusions and geographical references complement the collection’s linguistic cohesion. This leads to interesting possibilities regarding the way in which the shaping of the collection interfaces with the category of historical context in traditional exegesis.


JoAnna Hoyt
Dallas International University
Prophetic MacroStructure: a Discourse Type Approach
Though discourse analysis will never be able to definitively prove who wrote the Minor Prophet Books or when or how they were composed, it can provide clues as to whether they have a coherent macrostructure. This study evaluates the discourse types of prophetic oracles using an emic analysis (based on a modified form of Longacre’s etic structures) and concludes that regardless of their compositional history, their final forms indicate that the macrostructure of each book is cohesive and coherent and helps shape the prophets’ messages. This study primarily focuses on Amos and Micah, but implications and preliminary observations of the research on other minor prophetic books are included.


Todd Scacewater
Dallas International University
Is the Psalter a Discourse?
Ever since Gerald Wilson’s seminal investigation of the “shape and shaping” of the Psalter, numerous studies have been published exploring the “structure” of the Psalter as a whole and the role of editorial intention in the meaning of the psalms. As a hermeneutical approach, some choose to see the meaning of an individual psalm at least partially derived from the dialectical interaction with the psalms intentionally placed around it by the editor(s). What does this “shape and shaping” approach to the Psalter have to contribute to discourse analysis in the area of psalms studies? Can the Psalter, because of editorial shaping, be considered a singular discourse with a global meaning? In this paper, I intend to review the history of the “shape and shaping” field, discuss some of its advances and main findings, and then argue that this field of study does not provide (or even contribute to) adequate foundations for a discourse analysis of the Psalter. I will review discussions in discourse literature regarding the definition of “discourse” and argue that the Psalter cannot fit the definition of a “discourse.” At least, the Psalter cannot fit the definition of discourse that is used by discourse analysts. Thus, the insights about natural language derived from discourse analysts cannot be applied to the Psalter. Instead, I will argue, the older approach of Mowinckel, which emphasized the Sitz im Leben of each psalm, is far more useful for discourse analysis of individual psalms, particularly in the pragmatic realm of “context.”

Steven Runge
Biblica
Is a Discourse Analysis of a Composite Prophetic Text Possible?
The collocation נְאֻם־יְהוָה is typically treated as a prophetic formula by biblical scholars. However, while there is consensus about what it is, little attention has been given to what it does. This is particularly the case in Jeremiah, where nearly two-thirds of all occurrences in the Hebrew Bible are found. Ten percent of the tokens found in Jeremiah are located in chapter 23, or roughly 6% of those found in the Hebrew Bible. The vast majority of these tokens in Jeremiah 23 occur in contexts where YHWH is already clearly established as the speaker. Hence, they are semantically redundant. The purpose of this paper is to provide a unified description of the discourse functions of the נְאֻם־יְהוָה within Jeremiah 23, with attention given to its higher-level structuring function in the broader book.