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Interpreting Hebrew Poetry

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This volume offers a convenient introduction to the unique aspects of interpreting the poetic texts in the Hebrew Bible. The failure to distinguish poetry from prose in the Old Testament has often resulted in flawed interpretation. Robert Lowth’s Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews (1753, 1787) marked a turning point of major proportions by focusing on the importance of Hebrew parallelism. But new studies of the past decade now require significant adjustments to Lowth’s analyses. Interpreting Hebrew Poetry offers an authoritative introduction to this discussion of parallelism, meter and rhythm, and poetic style. It also demonstrates the application of poetic analysis by using Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 5:1–7, and Psalm 1 as examples of poetic texts from each major division of the Hebrew Bible.

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Top Highlights

“Third, the form of the language in Hebrew poems is not always certain. The orthography, or spelling, present in the standard, critical editions of the Hebrew Bible represents the final stage in a long series of developments.” (Page 5)

“four primary types of meter: ‘the syllabic, the accentual, the accentual-syllabic, and the quantitative” (Page 38)

“Third, goal-oriented theories move beyond imitation to focus on the rhetorical effect of a poem’s persuasion and on the end to which a poem is directed. Here, neither the poem nor the poet is the primary focus; rather, the audience assumes center stage. Good poetry is a crafted product that evokes pleasure in or affects significantly the reader.” (Page 11)

“This literature shares fundamental affinities with poetic literature outside the Bible, and not just poetic texts from the ancient Near East. As a result, we reject the notion that there is no poetry in the Hebrew Bible.” (Page 14)

“‘The whole [bicolon] is different from the sum of its parts because the parts influence and contaminate each other.’42” (Page 35)

  • Title: Interpreting Hebrew Poetry
  • Authors: David L. Petersen, Kent Richards
  • Series: Guides to Biblical Scholarship
  • Publisher: Fortress Press
  • Print Publication Date: 1992
  • Logos Release Date: 2016
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Hebrew poetry, Biblical › History and criticism; Bible. O.T. › Language, style; Hebrew language › Parallelism
  • ISBNs: 0800626257, 9780800626259
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T01:58:28Z


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    Save on Publisher Spotlight through November 30!


    Digital list price: $13.99
    Regular price: $10.99
    Save $4.40 (40%)