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mano vengono studiate, fatte con l’ausilio dei vari testi biblici (alla fine di ogni
capitolo se ne trova un esempio). Ugualmente meritevoli sono le conclusioni,
sia di ciascun capitolo che dell’opera stessa; per chi dovesse perdersi nei me-
andri dell’investigazione, sarà utile (non voglio dire sufficiente) attingere alla
lineare presentazione dei risultati emersi dall’indagine. Sottolineo questo pun-
to perché non sempre si trovano studi che riescono con tanta chiarezza a sinte-
tizzare il percorso fatto e, dato che l’opera di Long vuole essere anche un sus-
sidio per gli studenti della Bibbia, credo che questo aspetto didattico sia degno
di essere adeguatamente apprezzato.

Lesław Daniel Chrupcała, ofm

Dawson David Allan, Text-Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew (Journal for the
Study of the Old Testament. Supplement Series 177), Sheffield Academic
Press, Sheffield 1994, 242 pp., £ 37.50

Dawson’s volume is a doctoral dissertation under Professor John Gibson at the

Edinburgh University, Scotland, in 1993. I find no better way of presenting its
aim and scope than quoting extensively from the Summary at the end of the book.
In this study, I have examined five current influential works on the text-linguistic
description of Classical Hebrew, a theoretical base and a methodology for such descrip-
tion was presented, and several texts were worked according to this theoretical model. My
goals have been to underline the need in such undertakings for good theory and method-
ology, and for clear and direct communication of findings.
To this end, in the first two chapters, I surveyed Niccacci’s Syntax, Eskhult’s Studies,
Andersen’s Sentence, Khan’s Studies, and Longacre’s Joseph. Each of these contributes
to our growing understanding of test-level features in Classical Hebrew. Each of them
also fails to achieve our ideal standards of theoretical–methodological integrity and clar-
ity of presentation. It is claimed (1) that the Hebrew language can be described elegantly
and helpfully at the level of ‘text’, and (2) that this cannot be accomplished if the research-
er’s theoretical starting point does not allow for the possibility of a variety of text-types,
or if the write-up does not explain itself so that linguistically astute, but not linguistically
trained, hebraists can both trace the procedures and comprehend the results.
Of the five works examined, it was claimed that Joseph offered the greatest steps
forward in the description of the language—that is, its description of text-types by a matrix
with three distinctive parameters, and the description of each text-type in terms of its
own specific scale of clause-type distribution (which Longacre terms ‘clines’); and since
Longacre does not offer much theoretical explanation, the third chapter attempted this
task. Since space was limited, it was decided that attention should be given primarily to
that portion of theoretical basis which would permit the reader quickest access to the
most significant contributions of Joseph; this has meant that we worked toward an under-
standing of certain basic features of ‘tagmemics’ which are particularly important for an
understanding of the matrix and the clines.
This presentation of the theoretical base also entailed discussing methodological
principles, and in the end led to the proposal of some working hypotheses with which we
could give the theoretical base a ‘road-test’.

This road-test consisted in asking of several texts whether text-types and main-line
forms did in fact appear to be linked, and whether the patterns created by the alternations
between main-line and off-line forms coincided with other features to reveal the internal
structure of the texts. In addition, we looked at ‘Reported Speech’ to determine, if pos-
sible, whether this kind of text had the same text-type and cline characteristics as non-
Reported Speech. The final analysis attempted to step away from self-conscious
theoretical explanation and to apply the theory and methodology, more freely, to a single
unified text (pp. 209-210; italics in the original).
After this lucid presentation of the study as a whole, I allow myself to com-
ment on certain points of the exposition. In the introduction D. rightly warns
against bad customs widespread among linguists and grammarians, such as
inventing new terminology, and not clearly stating one’s own presuppositions,
theoretical perspective and methodology. He also insists on the importance of
the so-called ‘language universals,’ or the general tendencies of human
language. I would note that no matter how important the language universals
are, they can never replace sound, synchronic description of each language in
particular. I think more than one reader would concur with voicing the danger
of too great an attention on language universals and too little analysis of par-
ticular languages in contemporary linguistic literature.
Dawson avoids using the term ‘discourse’ and uses instead ‘text.’ In his words,
a text (or a ‘discourse’) is a unit of speech, whose constituents are paragraphs, and
other, shorter, units; texts exhibit consistent tendencies in internal development, which
features can be described linguistically (p. 21).
I would have never suspected that an ‘innocent’ term like ‘discourse’ might
cause so many misunderstandings until I became familiar with ‘discourse analy-
sis,’ the USA counterpart of the European text-linguistics. This happened in
1993 during my stay in Dallas to attend a Seminar on discourse analysis and
Biblical Hebrew held at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL).1 Although
D. did his research under Professor Gibson, he is a pupil of Professor R.E.
Longacre, who is the mentor at the SIL. During my exposition, the topic ‘dis-
course’ will come up several times.

§1 Syntax. Dawson raises several critical remarks against my Syntax. In his

opinion, it uses the term ‘discourse’ in an improper way without distinguish-
ing the different text-types as is done in the SIL circles. In order to understand
this remark, one needs to know that while I distinguish ‘discourse,’ in the sense
of direct speech, from historical narrative, D. (following Longacre) posits only
one genre, ‘discourse,’ and four text-types – ‘Narrative Discourse,’ ‘Narrative
Prediction Discourse,’ ‘Hortatory Discourse,’ and ‘Expository Discourse’
(pp. 115-116). Now, I have observed elsewhere that the so-called ‘top-down

1. The proceedings of this Seminar have been published: R.D. Bergen (ed.), Biblical
Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, Summer Institute of Linguistics 1994.

methodology’ practiced in the SIL circles is unfit for Biblical Hebrew for two
reasons.2 First, this approach makes it difficult, maybe even impossible, to per-
ceive a coherent, overall system in Biblical Hebrew verb. Second, since Bib-
lical Hebrew is a dead language and no competent speaker is available, we
need to learn it moving from the bottom up, that is, from the smallest unit, the
sentence,3 to the paragraph, and finally to the text. A basic precondition is to
describe the Hebrew verbal system and try to understand the function(s) of
each form in a text-linguistic perspective since one cannot rely on traditional
grammars. Indeed, one cannot base a text-linguistic analysis of the Bible on
the theory of the traditional (both old and modern) grammars that are bound to
the sentence and do not consider the relationships of the verb forms to one an-
other in the text. A major deficiency of D.’s study is, in my opinion, that he
relied heavily on the SIL approach without trying to develop a syntax capable
of supporting a sound ‘discourse analysis.’
§1a Sentence and Text. A second critical remark is that Syntax remains bound
to the sentence. On the one hand, I have already pointed out the necessity of start-
ing from a sound analysis of the sentence because this is the base upon which
the verbal system rests. Time and again, I have tried to show the coherence of
the Biblical Hebrew verbal system from the sentence level up to the paragraph
and the text levels.4 On the other hand, D. may have overlooked the import of
Syntax, especially Chapters 5 and 6, for text-linguistic analysis of the texts. I have
shown this in the analysis of complete texts from Joshua, Judges, Samuel and
Chronicles in Lettura sintattica.5 In this book (not mentioned by D.), first a ‘syn-
tactic commentary’ of each sentence is given and then a ‘macrosyntax’ of the text
– its beginning, development, and end.6 Admittedly, this is not the kind of analysis
done by D., yet it does go beyond the limit of the sentence. My analysis is only
based on the functions of the verbal forms established with text-linguistic
criteria. It is, therefore, limited and does not exclude per se the kind of analysis
done by D.

2. See my paper, “On the Hebrew Verbal System,” in: Bergen (ed.), Biblical Hebrew, 117-
3. Dawson objects against the (translator’s) use of ‘sentence’ instead of ‘clause’ in: A.
Niccacci, The Syntax of the Verb in Classical Hebrew Prose, Sheffield 1990; see
p. 38. However, according to the sources available to me ‘sentence’ and ‘clause’ can be
used alternatively.
4. My last attempt is, “Finite Verb in the Second Position of the Sentence. Coherence of
the Hebrew Verbal System” (to be published in ZAW). See also: “Essential Hebrew Syntax”,
in: E. Talstra ed., Narrative and Comment. Contributions presented to Wolfgang Schneider,
Amsterdam [1995], 111-125.
5. Lettura sintattica della prosa ebraico-biblica. Principi e applicazioni, Jerusalem 1991.
6. See also my paper, “Analysis on Biblical Narrative,” published in: Bergen (ed.), Biblical
Hebrew, 175-197.

§1b H. Weinrich. A further critical remark is that the present writer “is not
rigorously thorough in his application of linguistic principles, and permits him-
self both short-cuts and inconsistencies” (p. 31). This may be true, yet I have
some justifications. First, my decision of prefacing as little theory as I could
(three and a half pages: Syntax, pp. 19-22) was a reaction to a tendency to-
wards long theoretical discussion and small (if any) analysis of texts. Some-
thing more about theory, presuppositions and methodology is found in Ch. 9
as a short introduction to a summary on the use of the Hebrew tenses in
prose. Second, I thought I could permit myself being very short because I
adopted a well-defined model, that of H. Weinrich, Tempus.7 It is rather sur-
prising that D. does not even mention this fact. For him, the only text-linguis-
tic theory is the one developed by Longacre. While the whole Ch. 3 of his
study is devoted to explaining the ‘Tagmemic Model’ in order to clarify
Longacre’s theory, the name of Weinrich is not even mentioned.8
§1c Qatal in ‘Discourse’. Dawson rightly perceives an inconsistency in Syn-
tax, p. 43 as he writes:
Niccacci says of the ‘report QATAL’ that it ‘never heads a sentence’ as well as that
it ‘is a form with first position in the clause’. These two statements cannot be reconciled
with each other, and do not describe the data (p. 33).
Yes, this is one of the rather numerous errors crept into the English transla-
tion of my work, and for that I owe the reader my apology.9 Yet from a careful
reading one notes that something is wrong in the following sentence: “the ‘re-
port’ QATAL never heads a sentence but can be preceded by a particle …” (Syn-
tax, p. 43; italics added). It is clear that the phrase “but can be preceded by …”
needs a different antecedent than “never.” In fact, the Italian original reads as
follows: “il ‘QATAL di resoconto’ non occupa sempre la prima posizione della
frase, ma può essere preceduto da una particella …” Besides, a look at the exam-
ples quoted in Syntax §23 shows that in five cases we have an x-qatal (i.e. qatal
in second place) and in four cases qatal (i.e. initial qatal). To the other point –
i.e. that the data are not described in that way – I shall come back later since this
is one of the major points of D.’s research.
§1d Rules. Another D.’s remark on Syntax concerns “a certain tendency to-
ward overstatement of ‘rules’ in syntax” (pp. 32-33). This remark is not surpris-
ing because D. – and the SIL circles as well – do not see any rule or system in the
use of the Hebrew verb. Rather, they look for regularities in the patterns of text-
types in the texts. Now, if this search for linguistic patterns is useful, syntactical

7. H. Weinrich, Tempus. Besprochene und erzählte Welt, Stuttgart 1964; 4th ed. 1985.
8. About Dawson’s six-line (or even shorter!) description of my (i.e. Weinrich’s) text-
linguistic theory in p. 29, note that the three categories mentioned there are not at all
‘mutually exclusive’; on the contrary, they all are to be applied in analysis of texts.
9. Unfortunately I was not given the possibility of checking the text before the printing.

analysis is a prerequisite, as noted above. And, as far as I know, syntax is built

up by adopting working hypotheses and refining them until they becomes rules;
this happens when the hypotheses are confirmed by sufficient data.
§1e Syntax and Semantics. Dawson comments on the role of semantics in
the present writer’s syntactic description:
On the other hand, while he acknowledges that semantics must play a role even in
macro-syntactic description, he restricts his semantic analysis to grammatical forms. He
overlooks the fact that, for example, hyh never represents a ‘full’ event, by virtue of its
inherent, ‘stative’, meaning, and thus can never be a foregrounded narrative verb. His ex-
planation of the distribution of this verb is fairly convoluted, and could have been simpli-
fied with the recognition of the stative nature of hyh (p. 34).
This is an aggregate of unproved allegations. First, one would like to
know what is exactly meant by “a ‘full’ event.” If this means an ‘action,’ one
can observe that several main-line wayyiqtol forms do not indicate any ac-
tion. Second, who decided that a static information cannot be fore-
grounded. Foreground is not identical with action as well as background is
not identical with state. It is the writer, and no one else, who decides what is
foreground and background, and he signals his decision by means of the verb
forms used. This seems to me a correct relationship between syntax and se-
mantics – that is, the second is subservient to the first, not vice versa. In
other words, syntax is to be established by morphology and analysis of the
sentence (position of the verb in the sentence is a decisive factor), and only
subsequently by semantics.
As for the verb hyh, D.’s analysis is only semantic (see also his note 61,
p. 34). The present writer has illustrated the syntactical status of the verb in Syn-
tax §§28-36 and more fully in a special paper on the subject,10 as well as in
Lettura sintattica §24. There are two uses of hyh: one where it is a ‘full verb,’
the other where it has a ‘macrosyntactic function.’ hyh is a full verb when it is
followed by the subject; it has a macrosyntactic function when it is followed not
by its subject but by a ‘circumstance’ (be it a prepositional phrase, an adverb, or
a casus pendens). In both its uses, hyh is a verb in its own merit. In the yhiy“w" form,
it is a wayyiqtol as any other such verb form.
Again, I need to quote D. extensively:
One of the difficulties Niccacci runs into here is due to his apparently not having
examined larger units for structural similarities. This sort of investigation would have
shown that ‘interruptions’ to the main narrative are marked as more or less significant on
the basis of (1) how far removed the interruption is from the normal semantic, temporal,
and aspectual (etc.) qualities of the main-line of the text, and (2) how many non main-
line clause-types occur in tandem. This second factor is significant for the evaluation of
hyh forms—if Niccacci were to have worked from the assumption that Classical Hebrew
is a ‘bag-of-tricks’ language, the idea that yhyw clauses are among the possible options in

10. “Sullo stato sintattico del verbo häyâ,” LA 40 (1990) 9-23.


the bag of trick available for a specific task, and he would not have to claim a distinction
between yhyw as a ‘full form of the verb’ and yhyw as a macro-syntactic marker, since yhyw
as a ‘full form’ could still function as a macro-syntactic marker. Comparison of several
large units of text would lead as well to the realization that narrative units can be broken
down into smaller units without endangering the integrity of the whole, and he would not
need to insist that yhyw is always a marker of continuity. (In my reading of the data, yhyw
seems almost without exception to function as a paragraph-break marker, and as such is
often a marker of discontinuity.) (pp. 34-35; italics in the original)
One point of agreement between us is that wayyiqtol is a verb form express-
ing continuity while qatal indicates interruption in a narrative. D. maintains,
however, that yhiy“w" is no normal wayyiqtol. The criterion is semantic, nothing
more. In addition to the objections raised above in this section concerning the
stative nature of hyh, one would like to understand under what criteria are we to
decide “how far removed the interruption is from the normal semantic, tempo-
ral, and aspectual (etc.) qualities of the main-line of the text” (note the appear-
ance of ‘semantic’ in the first place and the absence of ‘syntactic’). More
verifiable criteria than personal choice are necessary to be convincing. Moreover,
the ‘bag-of-tricks’ may be a picturesque expression, but in order to be an accept-
able explanation, the contents of that ‘bag’ are to be verified syntactically – a
grammarian is not a juggler.
§1f Historical versus Oral Narrative. Another objection raised against Syntax
is the distinction between ‘narrative proper’ and ‘narrative discourse’ (pp. 35-
36). Here again we find an unfortunate use of the same phrase for different
things. Not accepting my – as well as M. Eskhult’s, and basically H. Weinrich’s
– distinction of direct speech and narrative as the two basic genres of the prose,
D. employs the term ‘narrative discourse’ in quite a different meaning (see be-
ginning of §1 above). For me it only means ‘oral narrative’ as opposed to ‘his-
torical narrative.’ I shall again discuss this point later.
§1g Word Order. A further objection concerns the importance of word order
in Hebrew syntax although D. accepts it in principle (as the SIL circles do). He
Here, I am largely in favour of Niccacci’s conclusion: that the emphasis of the clause
is determined by what has first position in it (excluding conjunctions such as -w and yk);
however, I feel he takes this too far (p. 37).
I agree that -w does not occupy a place in the clause, as well as do not the
negations aløw“ and la'w“, but yKi does, as well as ˆ['m'l], rv,a} etc., because they are
subordinating conjunctions.11

11. I hope to be able to draw a list of subordinating conjunctions and non-subordinating

particles in the near future. For the moment, see my book review of: W. Groß - H. Irsigler
- T. Seidl (ed.), Text, Methode und Grammatik. Wolfgang Richter zum 65. Geburtstag, St.
Ottilien 1991, in: LA 44 (1994) 667-692, esp. §3.

After a long quotation from Syntax, pp. 28-29, D. objects to the idea that
placing the verb in the second place of the sentence means demoting it from its
normal role of predicate, or new information, to the role of subject, or given
information. He writes:
This opposition of subject and predicate seems overstated. In truth, all the informa-
tion in a ‘sentence’ (by which he here means ‘clause’)—not just the predicate—is vital
to the meaning of the sentence, and though one element may have greater importance,
this is only on a sliding scale; to label one element ‘subject’ and another ‘predicate’ in
this fashion is to put into black and white that which should be described in terms of
greys (p. 38).
I doubt that grammatical analysis is a question of ‘greys’ instead of ‘black and
white.’ Of course, every element in a sentence is ‘vital’ from the semantic and
pragmatic point of view, but not from the grammatical and syntactical point of
view simply because there are cases where the subject does not appear at all. A
couple of examples of this kind are quoted in Syntax, p. 27: Judg. 1:2 and 6:29
versus 20:18 and 15:6, respectively. Other examples are found in a more recent
paper.12 In it, one also finds a better description of the ‘phrase coupée’ (in Eng-
lish, ‘cleft sentence’) than the one given by D. on p. 39, by R. Huddleston (pp. 9-
10) and T. Givón (p. 25), and also a description of comparable structures in Greek
and in other languages by H.J. Polotsky (pp. 13-14) and H.B. Rosén (p. 26).
A further remark on the topic of word order according to the present writer
reads as follows:
He is also not accurate in his assessment of ‘modern linguists’; it is incorrect to
say that they believe the noun phrase to be ‘first in the sentence’. Perhaps this is true
of those who do not engage in linguistics as a description of data (though I cannot
imagine what other sort of linguistics would exhibit any integrity); it is certainly not
true of linguists whose goal is to describe ‘what is there’ (p. 38).
The passage of Syntax, pp. 28-29, referred to above simply means that while
in many modern languages the subject, or ‘noun-phrase,’ occupies the first place
in the sentence (see J. Lyons cited in Syntax, note 17, p. 199) – this is true of
English, French, German, Italian and other languages –, in Biblical Hebrew, as
well as in other ancient Semitic languages, the first place is taken by the predi-
cate, or ‘verb-phrase.’13

§2. Joseph and Tagmemics. As D. puts it,

[Longacre’s Joseph] represents the most significant advancement in Hebrew
textlinguistics seen to date; it contains much of near-revolutionary value to the student of
Classical Hebrew syntax (p. 56).

12. “Marked Syntactical Structures in Biblical Greek in Comparison with Biblical Hebrew,”
LA 43 (1993) 9-69.
13. See my paper, “The Stele of Mesha and the Bible. Verbal System and Narrativity,” Or
63 (1994) 226-248, esp. §6.

Dawson follows the lead of this book whole-heartedly; just to better explain
the theoretical base of this book he writes an introduction to the Tagmemic
Model, which is especially destined to linguistically untrained Hebraists; from
this book he derives his own methodology of text analysis (see Ch. 3).
Part Two of Joseph describes the surface structure of Classical Hebrew
(pp. 61ff.). Now, while its methodology is a considerable improvement upon
traditional grammar based on the sentence, it posits too many types of texts. It
is able to discover some regularities in the use of verb forms in specific text-
types but not to perceive any system of the Hebrew verb (see §1d
above). Hopefully, things shall become clearer in the course of my discussion.
One of the major contributions of this theory is a basic distinction between
‘on-the-line’ and ‘off-the-line’ clauses; this corresponds to what I call ‘verb forms
of the main line’ and ‘verb forms of the secondary line of communication.’ Apart
from this important area of agreement, there are several areas of disagreement,
beginning with the nature of verb hyh, as already indicated (§1e). Another area
of disagreement concerns a basic distinction between verb clause and noun clause,
that is the corner-stone of my description of the Hebrew verbal system. In this
description, wayyiqtol is a main-line verb form and qatal an off-line verb form
in historical narrative precisely because the first constitutes a verb clause
(wayyiqtol takes the initial position in the clause) while the second constitutes a
noun clause (qatal takes the second position). Because, as D. notes, Joseph ex-
plicitly rejects any major difference between verb and noun clause, one may ask
on what basis are we to distinguish between main-line and off-line verb forms.
This subject entails an important point of disagreement also because qatal
is considered a off-line verb form per se, while in my opinion it is such in his-
torical narrative only; in direct speech it can be a main-line verb form in the
axis of the past (see §4c below).
The quest for verifiable criteria becomes acute when one considers the ‘ver-
bal rank scheme’ for Narrative History presented on p. 63. Although for D. “this
is one of the most immediately accessible – and revolutionary – contribution of
the book,” still I have some problems with it. I have already spelled out my agree-
ment (and reservations) to positing ‘Band 1: Storyline’ for the ‘Preterite,’ i.e.
wayyiqtol, and ‘Band 2: Backgrounded Actions’ for ‘Perfect,’ i.e. qatal. Since
this ‘verbal rank scheme’ represents different degrees of departure from the
storyline, I am surprised to see that the hNEhi constructions are classified as ‘Band
3: Backgrounded Actions.’ In fact, hNEhi is a particle typical of direct speech con-
veying visual information in the most lively possible way (it is connected, ex-
plicitly or implicitly, with a verb of seeing). As such it conveys description, which
is not foreground in historical narrative, yet it can hardly be considered a third-
degree departure from the storyline (see e.g. Ruth 4.1.3).14

14. Consult my paper, “Syntactic Analysis of Ruth” in the present volume.


I have already voiced my objections to considering the clauses with hyh

automatically off-line (§1e above); it is even said to be ‘Band 4: Setting’ to-
gether with the simple nominal (verbless) clause (p. 63). I also have reserva-
tions against seeing the negation of a verb clause as off-line per se, even ‘Band
5’ (p. 63). The reason is that in Hebrew the only way of negating wayyiqtol is
using aløw“ + qatal; on the other hand, qatal is negated with alø + qatal, and x-
qatal (i.e. a second position qatal) with x + alø + qatal. As a consequence aløw“
+ qatal is not a qatal but a negated wayyiqtol; syntactically, it is on exactly the
same level with wayyiqtol. What justification is there, then, to classify it as
‘Band 5’? The only criterion that one can imagine is personal interpretation,
certainly not syntax of the Hebrew verb.
Interpretation is also the criterion to identify paragraphs. In fact, D. quotes
with approval the following definition:
Any group of sentences that go together by virtue of cohesion and/or coherence can
be shown to have the structure of an (embedded) paragraph of a recognizable type (p. 64).
A paragraph is a unit of the text composed of foreground clauses and related
background clauses. I consider the background clauses, that are nominal in
nature (i.e. verbless or having a finite verb in the second place), to be syntac-
tically dependent on the foreground clause(s) although they are not dependent
grammatically – i.e. not governed by subordinating conjunctions like yKi, ˆ['m'l],
rv,a} etc. Indeed, background cannot exist in the text without its foreground on
which it relies. Note that my definition of a paragraph is purely syntactic (i.e.
based on the function of the verb forms used). It does not exclude a semantic
definition of a paragraph but the latter should take note of the first and base
itself on it.
In sum, we have to understand the function of each type of clause in rela-
tionship to the others. In this way an acceptable ‘verbal rank scheme’ can be
As already observed, an introduction to Tagmemics is presented in Ch. 3 in
order to help the reader better understand Joseph. A second goal of this pres-
entation is to explain ‘Embedding.’ I must confess that I had a hard time with
this concept until the end of the book. Thus, I prefer quoting what is most
important for its understanding:
A shorthand term for both ‘recursive’ exponence and ‘back-looping’ exponence is
‘embedding’. One could say that ‘a growing distrust of their frequent prevaricating’ is
a Noun Phrase in which the Modifier of the Noun Phrase ‘a growing distrust’ is expounded
recursively by another Noun Phrase—‘of their frequent prevaricating’. This specifies
the exact relationship of the filler to the slot. In this volume, as is done in many others,
I will sacrifice some of this precision, and will bypass explicit statement of the nature of
this exponence (except where an explicit statement is necessary); the result is that I will
describe the above phrase as a ‘Noun Phrase that contains an embedded Noun Phrase’. In
this inquiry I will refer to ‘a Narrative text embedded in an Expository text’, ‘a Predictive
paragraph embedded in a Narrative History speech formula’, and so on. The concept of

embedding is the most important to my later discussion of those which have been de-
scribed so far; the material preceding this has served primarily as background so that this
feature may be the more readily understood. (…)
This concept of ‘embedding’ is a considerable help in elucidating the grammatical
role of Reported Speech in, say, Narrative History, since it highlights the
interconnectedness between Reported Speech and the framework that supports it. This
is essential for the integrity of the framework, and also permits us to examine Reported
Speech as individual, fully self-contained, units, which also happen to function as part of
something else. The benefit of this is that we are able to ask questions of individual
Reported Speech texts, and compare them selectively (for example, to other units of the
same text-type), so as to gain a greater understanding of the features of distinctive text-
types. Likewise, we gain insights into the nature of Reported Speech as a grammatical/
syntactic mechanism by approaching it in this way. I will, as I have intimated above,
return to this in fuller detail in Chapter 5 (pp. 92-93; italics in the original).
After reading the rest of the book, one cannot avoid the suspicion that the
whole concept of embedding has been formulated to resolve a problem posed
by the theory of the four text-types – ‘Narrative History,’ ‘Narrative Prediction,’
‘Hortatory,’ and ‘Expository’ (pp. 115-116), all belonging to the category of
‘discourse.’ The problem is the presence of qatal at the beginning of a Narra-
tive History in Reported Speech, that is, what D. calls ‘Narrative History em-
bedded in Reported Speech,’ and myself ‘narrative discourse,’ or ‘oral narrative’
(I must apologize for the confusing terminology!). Now, according to D.’s
‘Narrative History Cline’ (p. 115), qatal (‘Perfect’) is classified as ‘Band 2:
Backgrounded Actions,’ but even common-sense analysis shows that this is not
the case in certain passages (see examination of texts below, §§5ff.). Precisely
for this problem, I think, embedding is envisaged. I will come back to this
subject later in my exposition in order to discuss this solution (§9f below).
The already-mentioned four text-types are defined according to a matrix
consisting of ‘four broad categories – NARRATIVE, PROCEDURAL, BEHAV-
IOURAL and EXPOSITORY’ (p. 95). Besides the binary opposition ‘+ Agent
Orientation’ versus ‘– Agent Orientation,’ a third parameter needs to be applied
called ‘Projection.’ The eight ensuing categories are then described (pp. 97-
100). Finally, D. comes to the internal structure of the text-level units.
This structure is marked by features that can be collected into two loose groups: the
first includes those features which tend to extend throughout the length of the text—they
are roughly similar to the ‘warp’ in woven cloth; the second includes those features which
tend to break up those in the first category—they are comparable to the ‘weft’ in woven
cloth. As with woven cloth, it is the working together of these features that results in a
completed product (p. 100).
Among the ‘longitudinal’ features D. examines ‘Main-Line’ versus ‘Off-Line,’
on the one hand, and ‘Foreground’ versus ‘Background,’ on the other. The dis-
tinction he establishes between the two pairs requires some attention.
The opposition between main-line and off-line is a syntactic question; the opposition
‘foreground’ versus ‘background’ is similar, but it is more a ‘notional’ distinction—in
some ways, it is a deep structure distinction that is encoded by a surface structure oppo-

sition of mainline clauses versus off-line clauses. Foreground material is that which moves
the story/exhortation/instruction/etc. toward its essential goal (whether that be the high-
lighting and resolution of a peak event, or some other text-type-appropriate
goal). Background material is that which does not significantly advance the story/
etc. Both ‘off-line’ and ‘background’ material can be categorized in terms of ‘distance
from the main-line’ or ‘degree of backgrounding’; the more unlike the main-line clause-
type can be shown to be (in terms of tense–aspect–mood values, for example), the further
off-line it can be said to be. This is the principle behind Longacre’s clines (p. 102).
What we read here is really interesting;15 yet, I am unable to understand the
above distinction. The opposition ‘main-line’ versus ‘off-line’ is said to be
syntactic, but it is not clear what is meant by syntax. The other opposition ‘fore-
ground’ versus ‘background’ is said to be ‘notional,’ or maybe deep-structure;
it consists in the opposition between ‘what moves the main line further’ and
‘what does not.’ Moreover, different ‘degrees of backgrounding’ are established
according to the degrees of ‘distance from the main-line.’ Again, according to
which criteria are we to measure the ‘advancing capability’ of a verb form and
its ‘distance from the main-line’? Semantics is this answer, and nothing else. I
do not have anything against semantics but it must be subservient, not contrary,
to a sound syntax of the verb (see §1e).
As a further element in the analysis D. mentions ‘plot,’ which is a literary
term. D. explains that this ‘wandering outside our own domain’ “merely under-
lines the interdependency of these various ways of approaching texts”
(p. 104). He then goes on to list seven elements of the surface structure in a
typical Narrative History text (and in other text-types in some way), and nine
corresponding elements of the deep structure. Following Longacre, he explains
that “these deep- and surface-structure features give to the text a ‘profile’”
(p. 106). He also explains the overlapping and interleaving of these
features. One may feel uneasy with this description. One wished, first, that the
different levels of analysis – syntactic, text-linguistic and literary – might be
kept distinct, and, second, that they might be interrelated and ordered in a pro-
gression from lower to higher levels. There is a danger of escaping from the
problems encountered on the syntactic level to a solution on a higher level or on
the deep structure. I always feel uncomfortable with the practice of resorting to
a deep-structure explanation at the expense of the surface structure. The only
verifiable structure of the text is the surface structure.

§3. Methodology. Coming to his own methodology, D. looks for a suitable

working hypothesis. He writes:

15. One should mention that the notion of ‘foreground’ versus ‘background’ has been also
advanced by German scholars like W. Schneider and W. Groß; see complete references in
Syntax, p. 15. There is an unfortunate lack of communication between English-speaking and
German-speaking grammarians; e.g., see the bibliography given in: Groß - Irsigler - Seidl
(ed.), Text.

I have enumerated several factors above which influence the choice of question(s) we
will ask of the data. The question must also be formulated in such a way to lead us to a
productive answer. ‘Do verbs have a macro-syntactic significance?’ would be next to
useless as working hypothesis; we need a starting point that will result in a concrete
observation about the language. ‘Does the distribution of verbs with hyh in non-Reported
Speech’ sections of Narrative History, in comparison with other clause-types, indicate
possible macro-syntactic significance?’ is a much more functional hypothesis (p. 110;
italics in the original).
And in note 88 he observes:
In fact, this is a kind of sub-hypothesis, since it would be correlative to other ques-
tions we must ask at the same time. Perhaps the ‘umbrella’ hypothesis might be: ‘Do
suspected clause-level macro-syntactic devices for non-Reported Speech of Narrative
History converge to frame a complete picture of the constituent structure of the
text?’. Were we to be strictly legalistic about this, hypotheses could not be framed as
questions, but would have to take the form of ‘if–then’ sentences. This last scruple is
perhaps helpful on occasion, but I tend to bypass it, since the question form accomplishes
the task sufficiently well, and without any great ambiguity (p. 110).
Despite D.’s honest intention (only announced, though) of disproving his
working hypothesis as a means of substantiating it (p. 111), I feel lost. We are
told that asking about a macro-syntactic significance of the verb forms would
be an almost useless working hypothesis. (Needless to say, I believe just the
opposite – the verb forms are the main starting point for syntactic and macro-
syntactic analysis; see §1e above.) This raises two questions: are we talking the
same language?, and, are we talking about syntax at all? One suspects that behind
all this there is a specific presupposition: that macro-syntax is not syntax in the
normal sense – i.e. describing the functions of the verb forms in the text – but
only identifying the text-types and controlling the ‘profile’ of the text, thus by-
passing the plain, syntactic research. Only one who has no confidence in syn-
tactic analysis can make such statements. On the other hand, what D. presents
as a ‘more functional’ working hypothesis does not seem to be formulated in
such a way as to be faithful to his own ‘hobby-horse’: ‘good theory–good
methodology–good communication’ (p. 216). It is difficult to appreciate the
linguistic importance of the distribution of hyh in the different clause-types, so
that it would be justified to adopt it as a working hypothesis. Besides, as far as
one can see, this is not the main working hypothesis in the examination of texts
in Ch. 4 and 5 (see also next paragraph).
As for his theoretical starting point, D. writes:
We have looked at Longacre’s matrix of ‘notional’ text-types, and I have cited his
‘verb rank clines’ of main-line and off-line forms as being particularly productive for
Classical Hebrew; we have also looked at constituent structure of texts as something that
may be marked by off-line features. I will therefore take as my starting point these theo-
retical concepts, and examine the data to see whether they are, in fact, viable for describ-
ing our language. I have also dealt bluntly with Niccacci and Eskhult, in terms of their
treatment of ‘discourse’ (i.e. ‘Reported Speech’), and have suggested that their analyses
are deficient because they do not deal well with this feature of the text (p. 114).

On pp. 115-116, D. lists the ‘verb-rank clines for the four text-types,’ taken
from Joseph with only minor changes in terminology. Since I have already
commented on the ‘Narrative History Cline’ (see §2 above), I only need to make
a remark on ‘Band 2: Backgrounded Actions’ of the same. A distinction is made
there between ‘2.1 Perfect [i.e. qatal]’ and ‘2.2. Noun + Perfect (with noun in
focus),’ i.e. x-qatal. This statement is true and false at the same time because it
does not envisage the basic distinction between historical narrative, on the one
hand, and direct speech, on the other. Actually, qatal is an initial verb form in
direct speech, but not in historical narrative where it is a second place verb
form, i.e. x-qatal; and x-qatal has the function of putting ‘the noun [i.e. ‘x’ el-
ement] in focus’ mostly in direct speech, very rarely in historical narrative.16
As for the ‘Narrative Prediction Cline’ (p. 115), I agree that the main-line
is indicated by ‘wc + Suffix,’ i.e. weqatal; one should note, however, that no
direct speech (or ‘Reported Speech’) of any kind begins with weqatal. In other
words, weqatal does express the main-line, it also appears in a chain of the same
kind of verb forms, but it does not start the main-line; the main-line is started
mostly by a verbless clause (or ‘simple nominal clause’ in my terminology) or
by an indicative x-yiqtol (i.e. non-initial yiqtol; see §4c below). Thus, x-yiqtol
at the beginning of a direct speech is a main-line form exactly as weqatal, and
therefore one should object against classifying ‘Prefix’ (i.e. yiqtol) simply as
‘Band 2: Backgrounded Predictions.’
The objections raised against the analysis of the hNEhi clauses in the ‘Narra-
tive History Cline’ (§2 above) are even more relevant to the ‘Narrative Predic-
tion Cline,’ because hNEhi is a particle of direct speech, and ‘Narrative Prediction
Cline’ is direct speech. It seems impossible, therefore, to classify the hNEhi clauses
as ‘Band 3: Backgrounded Activities.’ The reason for this classification is pre-
sumably the fact that the main-line form is weqatal and therefore all the rest is
considered off-line. This is inappropriate, however, because direct speech eas-
ily shifts from the future (characterizing the ‘Narrative Prediction text-type’) to
the present (characterizing, among others, the hNEhi clauses) and to the past (char-
acterizing the oral narrative; see §4c below).
In the ‘Narrative Prediction Cline’ (p. 115), a number of constructions are
classified as ‘Band 4: Setting’ that do not belong together syntactically. As noted
above (§2), there is no justification in regarding the forms of verb hyh as ‘Set-
ting’ per se; rather, hyh is to be considered according to its grammatical forms
and respective function(s) as any other verb. As for the ‘nominal clause (verb-
less),’ it can express setting but it can also be a main-line construction with present
reference. The same applies to the ‘existential clause with yëå’ that is both a main-
line construction with present reference (as in ‘Band 1’ of the ‘Expository Cline,’
p. 116) and a circumstantial construction expressing setting.

16. I would refer to Syntax §6 for direct speech, and §48 for historical narrative.

‘Band 1: Primary line of Exhortation’ in the ‘Hortatory Cline’ correctly in-

cludes all the volitive forms (p. 116). However, one should object to classifying
the negative construction la' + ‘Jussive / Prefix’ (i.e. yiqtol) as ‘Band 2: Second-
ary Line of Exhortation’ since this is precisely the way of negating the volitive
forms. As observed on the ‘Narrative History Cline’ (§2), the positive verb forms
and their negative counterparts have the same syntactic status. The other item in
Band 2, called ‘Modal Prefix,’ is the indicative yiqtol (appearing as x-
yiqtol). Now, there is no justification in classifying this ‘modal’ yiqtol as Band 2
and weqatal (or ‘wc + Suffix’) as ‘Band 3: Results / Consequences (Motivation).’
Finally, in the ‘Expository Cline’ (p. 116), only ‘Band 1: Primary Line of
Exposition’ is clearly defined; it comprises ‘Nominal clause (verbless)’ and
‘Existential clauses (with ˆyae or vyE).’ÊÊThe rest remains vague.
In sum, the four ‘Clines’ are too theoretical and much too rigid. Real texts
are variable, and ‘pure’ text-types are rarely found because direct speech easily
shifts from future to past and to present reference.17 As a result, the ‘Clines’ are
often inapplicable without making violence to the texts. This shall become clear
later in the discussion of the texts examined by D. (§5ff. below).
What has been said means that one would do well to forget the text-types
as the starting point of syntactic analysis. Other models of text-linguistics do
exist. Once a sound text-linguistic syntax has been established, text-types can
be investigated on a firmer basis.
In p. 119, D. explains his ‘charting methodology,’ that is, the way he ar-
ranges the clauses of a text according to the ‘text-types clines.’ It is not easy to
understand his theoretical explanation, especially concerning subordinated and
non-subordinated material in Reported Speech. If one looks at the different
charts and the two Appendixes at the end of the book, the result is frankly
confusing. In fact, D. distinguishes ‘subordinated Reported Speech’ (i.e. clauses
that are governed by subordinating conjunctions such as yKi, ˆ['m'l], rv,a} etc.) from
normal, ‘non-subordinated Reported Speech’ (pp. 156; 176). On this basis, he
establishes four columns: ‘A: un-subordinated narration’; ‘B: subordinated
narration’; ‘C: un-subordinated rep’d speech’; ‘D: subordinated rep’d
speech.’ Soon after, the four columns become two: ‘Narration’ comprising A
and B, and ‘Reported Speech’ comprising C and D, although it seems that B is
also Reported Speech. However, the columns are three in the charts on pp. 128
and 133 and they are marked by the symbols ‘ML,’ ‘OL,’ and ‘Sub’ whose
meaning is explained in p. 127 as ‘main-line non-subordinated clauses,’ ‘off-
line non-subordinated clauses,’ and ‘subordinated clauses,’ respectively. Re-
ported Speech is not examined there but is indicated with a ‘—’ sign. In the
examination of the Reported Speech material in Jephthah and Ruth (Ch. 5),

17. This is recognized by Dawson himself; see his remark no. 2 in p. 207, and my discussion
in §10 below.

again three columns are used; however, they are not the same as those on pp. 128
and 133, since the first (from right to left) is for the Speech formula, the second
for the un-subordinated Reported Speech, the third for the subordinated Re-
ported Speech. Finally, in the Appendixes also three columns are used but again
different: the first is for the un-subordinated narration, comprising both main-
line and off-line clauses; the second for the subordinated Reported Speech, and
the third for the un-subordinated Reported Speech. The least that one can say
is that this ‘charting methodology’ is not particularly helpful to the reader.

§4 Verbal System in ‘Discourse’. Before coming to the examination of the texts,

I wish to comment on two remarks done by D.: first, qatal at the beginning of a
Narrative History in a Reported Speech can be a ‘stage-setting form’ as in Nar-
rative History outside Reported Speech; second, my Syntax did not develop a
suitable description of Reported Speech (see pp. 36 and 32, respectively).
§4a Beginning of Oral Narrative. In the present writer’s view, the beginning
of an oral narrative (or ‘Narrative History in Reported Speech’ in D.’s terms) is
different from that of a historical narrative (or ‘Narrative History outside Reported
Speech’). At the beginning of an oral narrative, qatal (i.e. clause-initial qatal) or
x-qatal (i.e. second-place qatal) is a main-line form, whereas x-qatal at the be-
ginning of a historical narrative is off-line form expressing ‘antecedent informa-
tion,’ or the ‘setting’ of a story. Although it might appear minor, this controversy
is in fact major because it constitutes D.’s main argument against distinguishing
historical narrative from direct speech as the two genres of the prose; it is also
the principal contribution of his research. Actually, this controversy entails the
problem of the syntax of direct speech in general.
The position of the present writer is not an a priori but a conclusion of sev-
eral facts. First, there are clear cases where nominal clauses (i.e. with a finite verb
in the second place or without any such verb) in historical narrative indicate the
setting of a story (Syntax §§16-19), while I know of no such cases in oral
narrative. Second, there are clear cases where (clause-initial) qatal, or x-qatal, in
an oral narrative contrasts wayyiqtol in historical narrative for the same fact – first
narrated, then reported orally – and both constitute the main line of communica-
tion (Syntax §§22-23). Third, an oral narrative frequently uses wayyiqtol forms
in the first and second person; a suitable example is the first speech of Moses in
Deuteronomy with rm'aøw: ‘I said’ (Deut. 1:9), wWn[}T'w" ‘you answered’ (1:14), jQ'a,w" ‘I
took’ (1:15), hW<x'a}w: ‘I commanded’ (1:16; 1:18), [S'NIw" ‘we departed’ and abøN:w" ‘and
we came’ (1:19), rm'aøw: ‘I said’ (1:20), ˆWbr“qTiw" ‘you draw near’ (1:22) etc., whereas
first and second person wayyiqtol is totally absent in historical narrative. Fourth,
an oral narrative begins with qatal or x-qatal, never with wayyiqtol – e.g. Moses’
speeches in Deuteronomy begin with x-qatal (Deut. 1:6; 5:2) – whereas wayyiqtol
is frequently found at the beginning of a historical narrative, even at the beginning
of books – e.g. 1 Sam 1:1. These are facts, not allegations, and deserve proper
consideration. Until these facts are disproven, I adhere to my opinion.

§4b Discourse and Narrative. At this point, the verbal system in ‘dis-
course,’ or Reported Speech, needs to be expounded. The distinction between
‘discourse’ (Besprechung) and ‘narrative’ (Erzählung) has been proven to be
basic in the Neo-Latin languages, which have complete, separate sets of verb
forms for the two genres of the prose. In W. Schneider’s and M. Eskhult’s
opinion as well as mine, among others, this distinction is also basic for Bibli-
cal Hebrew with one difference: the latter does not have complete, separate sets
of verb forms for the two genres.18
Of the four text-types admitted by D., my category of ‘discourse’ comprises
the Procedural, the Behavioural, and the Expository; it does not comprise the
Narrative. These three categories use basically the same verb forms but with dif-
ferent frequency. No verb forms are exclusively found in any of them although,
of course, weqatal predominates in Procedural/Predictive, the volitive (‘com-
mand’) forms in Behavioural/Hortatory, and the verbless clause in Expository
text-type. Conversely, these three categories, taken together, do show distinctive,
exclusive verb forms against historical narrative. This opposition is significant
with respect to the verb forms used in the texts. As a consequence, it is not cor-
rect to subsume the four text-types under the same umbrella of ‘discourse.’ A
suitable umbrella for all the four text-types is ‘communication,’ or ‘communica-
tion process.’ In sum, two genres are justified in terms of text-linguistic syntax:
direct speech and historical narrative; the four text-types may be justified in terms
of higher, literary analysis.
§4c Verbal System in Direct Speech. Direct speech is much more complex
than historical narrative. The reason is that while the latter only uses the axis
of the past, the first uses all the three axes available – past, present and future
– as the main line of communication (Syntax §§52-53). As a consequence,
historical narrative has one verb form only for the main line, i.e. wayyiqtol,
while the other verb forms and constructions are used for the secondary line
(‘off line’). Direct speech, on the contrary, has a larger choice of verb forms
for the main line of communication according to the three temporal axes:
- in the axis of the present – simple nominal (verbless) clause;
- in the axis of the past – (clause-initial) qatal, or x-qatal, and wayyiqtol as
continuation form;
- in the axis of the future – indicative x-yiqtol as the initial verb form, and
weqatal as continuation form; volitive forms (imperative, cohortative/jussive
yiqtol, and weyiqtol).
The following are the verb forms used in the secondary line of communi-
- in the axis of the present – simple nominal (verbless) clause, volitive forms
in the second place (e.g. jussive x-yiqtol);

18. See my paper, “On the Hebrew Verbal System,” Tables 1-3.

- in the axis of the past – x-qatal (not clause-initial qatal!);

- in the axis of the future – x-yiqtol (not weqatal!).
§4d Volitive versus Non-volitive Forms. With this classification of the verb
forms used in direct speech, all kinds of ‘discursive’ material (i.e. excluding
historical narrative) can be analyzed. Problems do remain in specific cases
especially with the volitive forms. However, I think that the ‘volitional mate-
rial’ can be analyzed with sufficient confidence by applying the following pat-
tern of volitive forms versus non-volitive forms.19

Volitive forms versus Non-volitive forms

(x-) yiqtol versus x-yiqtol
weyiqtol versus weqatal
imperative (or other volitive versus imperative (or other volitive forms)
forms) → weyiqtol → weqatal
= ‘do this → in order that = ‘do this → and as a consequence
you may …’ you will be able to …’

§4e Mixed Genres. Not all the verb forms used are distinctive and exclusive
of one of the genres of the prose – direct speech and historical narrative. In con-
trast with Neo-Latin languages, Biblical Hebrew shows mixed genres: historical
narrative with ‘discursive’ forms, on the one hand, and direct speech with ‘nar-
rative’ forms, on the other. A historical narrative with much discursive forms can
be called ‘narrative with comment’ (Syntax §83, with 1 Kgs 6 as a typical exam-
ple),20 and a direct speech with much narrative forms ‘narrative discourse’ (Syn-
tax §§74-76, with Judg. 11:1-28 as a typical example).
These mixed genres show a repeated use of forms that are not distinctive of
the basic genre, as simple nominal (verbless) clause, yiqtol and weqatal in his-
torical narrative, on the one hand, and wayyiqtol in direct speech, on the other. It
is important to note that non-distinctive forms are used differently from their basic
genres. In fact, simple nominal (verbless) clause is a main-line construction in
direct speech while it is off-line (circumstantial) in historical narrative; similarly,
yiqtol and weqatal are main-line forms in direct speech (in the axis of the future)
while they are off-line in historical narrative (they are descriptive or express
duration, habit, in this case); and wayyiqtol begins historical narrative while it is
a continuation form in direct speech (in the axis of the past).21

19. See Syntax §§61-65; and my paper, “A Neglected Point of Hebrew Syntax: Yiqtol and
Position in the Sentence,” LA 37 (1987) 7-19, §1.
20. ‘Narrative with comment’ (in Italian: ‘narrazione commentativa’) is a better designation
than ‘comment in the guise of narrative’ as in the English translation; see Syntax, p. 14.
21. A summary on the use of the verb forms is found in Syntax, Ch. 9.

It seems that this description of the verbal system in ‘discourse’ cannot be

said to be confused; it is complex and describes the situation in a flexible and
coherent way. The main cause of problems is the poverty of verb forms in
Hebrew. As already mentioned, Neo-Latin languages possess distinctive and
exclusive sets of verb forms and do not show mixed genres.

§5 Examination of Texts – Judges 2. After what has been said, nobody will
expect from D. much syntactic analysis in normal sense; he rather presents
a ‘text-linguistic analysis’ based on the text-types. After a general literary
examination of each text (beginning and end), the clauses are counted; then,
the clauses are described according to the designations used in the four
‘Clines’ presented in pp. 115-116, and the text-types are determined on the
basis of the percentage of the clauses attested; the ‘profile’ of the text is
finally investigated and ‘peaks’ are detected with the help of the off-line
The first text examined is Judges 2 (p. 124).22 Here I will comment on
certain points of D.’s analysis.
Clause ‘2.18.1’ is said to be ‘Ellipsis’; it is represented as ‘[…]’ on p. 222,
but no explanation is given. This clause is found inside a very interesting (and
intriguing) passage that merits a careful syntactic analysis – Judg. 2:17-19. For
a quick comparison, D.’s numbers identifying each clause are shown in the first
12.17.1 Even to their judges did they not listen W[mev; alø µh,˝yfep]voAla, µg"˝w“
12.17.2 but they fornicated after other gods µyrIjea} µyhiløa‘ yrEj}a' Wnz: yKi
12.17.3 and bowed down to them; µh,˝l; Wwj}T'v]YI˝w"
12.17.4 they soon turned aside from the way Ër<D<˝h'Aˆmi rhem' Wrs…
12.17.5 in which their fathers had walked µ˝t…/ba} Wkl]h; rv,a}
by obeying the commandments of the Lord; hw:hy“AtwOx]mi ["mov]˝li
12.17.6 they did not do so. ˆk´ Wc[…Aalø
12.18.1-2 24
And when the Lord had raised up hw:hy“ µyqiheAyki˝w“
judges for them, µyfip]vo µh,˝l;
12.18.3 the Lord used to be with the judge, fpeVo˝h'Aµ[i hw:hy“ hy:h;˝w“

22. The text ‘in Columnar Format’ is found in Appendix 1, pp. 220-222. This text has been
also examined by the present writer in Lettura sintattica §15.
23. The first number indicates the chapter, the second the verse, and the third the
clause. Each line is one sentence. Some clauses are divided into parts because of their
24. As already noted, clause 2.18.1 (‘Ellipsis’) is simply non-existent.

12.18.4 and he used to save them from the hand dY"˝mi µ˝[;yvi/h˝w“
of their enemies all the life of the judge; fp´/V˝h' ym´y“ lKo µh,˝ybey“ao
12.18.5 for the Lord used to be moved to pity hw:hy“ µj´N:yIAyKi
by their groaning because of ynEP]˝mi µ˝t;q;a}N"˝mi
those who afflicted and oppressed them. µh≤˝yqej}do˝w“ µh,˝yxej}lø
12.19.1 But it used to happen that when the judge died, fpe/V˝h' t/m˝B] hy:h;˝w“
they used to turn back Wbvuy:
12.19.2 and behaved worse than their fathers µ˝t;/ba}˝m´ Wtyjiv]hi˝w“
by going after other gods µyrIjea} µyhiløa‘ yrEj}aæ tk,l,˝l;
to serve them and to bow down to them; µh≤˝l; twOj}T'v]hi˝l]˝W µ˝d:b][;˝l]
12.19.3 they did not drop any of their practices µh,˝ylel]['Mæ˝mi WlyPihi alø
or their stubborn ways. hv…Q;˝h' µ˝K…r“D"˝mi˝W
All the verb forms are off-line. The wayyiqtol in 2.17.3 is not main-line, but
continuation, off-line form because it continues a subordinate qatal clause (Syn-
tax §146:2). This phenomenon, correctly noted by D., is not as surprising as
the following comment might make us to think:
It is 2.17.3 which is the most intriguing—here we have an occurrence of a main-
line Narrative clause assigned to a subordinated section. Though this may seem alarm-
ingly out of keeping with my proposed assignment of wc + Prefix forms [i.e.
wayyiqtol] to the main line, this clause is clearly to be considered a continuation of
the previous clause, which in itself is subordinated (p. 130; the rest of the comment
may be dispensed with).
More important is to observe the function of weqatal – a form of direct
speech – in historical narrative. As mentioned above (§4e), it conveys a de-
scription, or a custom; I have rendered this aspectual value, that is lacking in
English, by a paraphrase, ‘used to.’ The difference in function from direct
speech in the axis of the future, or ‘Narrative Prediction’ in D.’s terms
(p. 115), where weqatal expresses simple future, is unmistakable. Indeed,
direct speech and historical narrative are significant for the syntax of the
verb. On the contrary, none of the four ‘Clines’ adopted by D. are able to
handle this text.
As signs of this unease with weqatal in historical narrative a couple of
unfortunate remarks by D. may be mentioned. The first concerns 2.17.4 (in
his terms, ‘Asyndetic Suffix clause’) and 2.19.2 (‘Suffix clause with -w
In this, and in the preceding category, we have two examples of what Niccacci says
cannot happen (‘The QATAL which has first position in the sentence is distinct from a
second position QATAL. The first kind occurs in discourse [my ‘Reported Speech’] but
never in narrative’ [Syntax, p. 30]). My analysis will have less difficulty explaining this
feature (note 7, p. 125).

One would observe that, while 2.17.4 is a ‘nude’ qatal, 2.19.2 is a weqatal (i.e.
the ‘inverted’ verb form) – not waw ‘copula’ + qatal,25 because it plays the same
function as the other weqatal forms of the passage (2.18.3-4; 2.19.1 first verb)
and as yiqtol in 2.19.1 (second verb).26 Both qatal and weqatal are off-line forms
in historical narrative, the difference being one of aspect, i.e. repeated versus
single action. The ‘nude’ qatal in 2.17.4 is explained as coordinated to 2.17.2,
and thus contrasting 2.17.1, which is a waw-x-qatal clause; therefore, it is really
a non-initial verb form. The same is true of Wc[…Aalø in 2.17.5, a negated qatal.27
Therefore, what is affirmed in Syntax, p. 30, is not invalidated.
The second unfortunate remark concerns 2.18.4:
On the other hand, I would propose that the material in the longer section, flanking
as it does the single main-line clause ‘and he saved them from the hand of their enemies
all the days of the judge’ (2.18.4), serves to identify the peak event in the section (p. 129).

25. Usually, two functions of weqatal are listed by grammarians: the inverted, or consecuti-
ve form, and the non-inverted, or non-consecutive, form. The first is the one described
above (§4e); it represents the future tense in direct speech and has aspectual value in
historical narrative (custom, repetition, or description). The second is found in historical
narrative with the function of expressing a single action in the past, a phenomenon not fully
explained as yet; see Syntax §158 (ii), pp. 183-186. In his paper, “Weqatal Forms in
Biblical Hebrew Prose: A Discourse-modular Approach,” in: Bergen (ed.), Biblical Hebrew,
50-98, R.E. Longacre proposed a different approach: “The purpose of this paper is to
employ a discourse-modular approach in which (1) the consecution of tenses as such is
reduced to a place of lesser importance; (2) the role of weqatal forms as backbone structures
in predictive, procedural, and instructional discourse is recognized as primary; (3) most of
GKC’s examples of weqatal as frequentative in narrative are explained as embedded
procedural discourse; and (4) most of GKC’s residues in narrative are explained not as con-
secutive forms but rather as constituting a marker of pivotal/climatic events.” Being the
initiator of the theory of the four text-types adopted by Dawson, Longacre finds it difficult
to explain the function of weqatal in historical narrative. Therefore, he tries two ways: first,
frequentative weqatal in narrative is explained as ‘embedded procedural discourse’; second,
non-frequentative weqatal is taken as a marker of ‘pivotal/climatic events.’ Thus, he by-
passes syntax by resorting to higher literary analysis of the ‘profile’ of text. Note how he
plays down the syntactic functions of the verb forms — what he calls ‘the consecution of
tenses.’ Pace Longacre, I have strong reservations against this methodology; see e.g. §2
above (by the end).
26. This yiqtol Wbvuy: constitutes a clause by itself although I did not attribute a special
number to it following Dawson. In fact, this yiqtol is the apodosis of a ‘double sentence’
(called ‘the two-element syntactic construction’ in Syntax, Ch. 8); the protasis is the
prepositional phrase fpe/V˝h' t/m˝B] — same protasis and apodosis are found in Exod. 40:36;
see Syntax §102. The verb form hy:h;˝w“ added in front of the double sentence has a macro-
syntactic function: it makes the double sentence verbal and expresses the aspect of custom,
or repetition, characteristic of weqatal in historical narrative. On the macro-syntactic
function of hyh consult Syntax §§28-36; Lettura sintattica §§4.3; 24. Note that in the
secondary line of communication, aspect (i.e. repetition, contemporaneity, anteriority) is
significant for the choice of the verb forms, while in the main line the verb forms are tenses,
and aspect plays no role. See Syntax §133; Lettura sintattica §6.2.
27. See Lettura sintattica, pp. 135-136.

Strangely enough, 2.18.4 is considered ‘the single main-line clause’ of the

passage while it is a weqatal, not a wayyiqtol.28
Other comments of detail can be added. For D., the closing clause in Judg.
2:23, [æv¨/hy“Ady"˝B] µ˝n:t;n“ alø˝w“ “and he did not deliver them in the hand of Joshua” is
‘“a momentous negation” clause’ (p. 125). Syntactically, aløw“ + qatal negates a
wayyiqtol and is coordinated to the preceding clause having a wayyiqtol. This
is the only fact; the rest is speculation.
Dawson illustrates the interplay of main-line, off-line and subordinated forms
in the text with a musical imagery (pp. 127-128). In my system, the main-line
and off-line forms are significant with regard to the flow of the communication
process; they indicate connections and interruptions, respectively. They also
give different relief to the text by alternating foreground and background (in the
sense of H. Weinrich’s Reliefgebung). Without off-line forms the text would be
uniform, poor on information and boring. By using foreground and background
the author organizes information in a meaningful way as to influence the
reader. It is important, therefore, to note and respect the syntactic texture of the
text in order to appreciate the author’s strategy of communication.29
§6. Leviticus 14. Lev. 14, that presents a long series of instructions con-
cerning the ritual cleansing of a leper, is a good example of ‘Narrative Predic-
tion,’ or ‘Procedural’ text. According to the ‘Cline’ of this text-type (p. 115),
weqatal is the main-line form, the rest is off-line in different degrees. This
cline, however, appears to be not flexible enough even to handle a uniform,
strictly ‘Procedural’ text such as Lev. 14. The presence of four simple nomi-
nal (verbless) clauses in a total of 81 (p. 134) is enough for D. to posit a dif-
ferent, ‘Expository’ text-type. However, it is only natural that ‘14.2.1’ and
‘14.32.1’ are introduction and conclusion, respectively, and that the two coor-
dinated ‘if’ clauses 14.21.1-2 (hardly ‘existential clauses’ as D. calls them,
p. 132) introduce an alternative situation to which appropriate instructions are
attached – a normal ‘casuistic instruction.’ In brief, the text shifts from the
axis of the present (title, case, symptoms) to the axis of the future (what to do).
Such a text, which shows strings of weqatal forms and describes ‘what to
do,’ can indeed be called ‘Procedural,’ or more generally instructional. On the
contrary, this label is forced in other cases where we have sparse weqatal forms
and/or not a proper procedure or instruction. Indeed, not every weqatal or string
of weqatal is ‘procedural’; besides, no text-type can be taken too rigidly. The
following examination will make clearer my point.

28. In the same paragraph in p. 129, as in the chart of the previous page and elsewhere, a
clause ‘14.5’ is mentioned that does not appear in the text of the Appendix (p. 221);
therefore I was unable to locate it.
29. See on this Lettura sintattica §7.5; and also “Analysis of Biblical Narrative,” and “The
Stele of Mesha and the Bible.”

A section of Lev. 14 is examined here in order to show how the verbal sys-
tem proposed in §4 above functions in a concrete text.
14.2.1 This shall be the law of the leper [r:xoM]˝h' tr"/T hy<h]Ti tazO
in the day of his cleansing. /˝tr:h’f; µ/y˝B]
14.2.2 He shall be brought to the priest; ˆh´Ko˝h'Ala, ab…Wh˝w“
14.3.1 the priest shall go out of the camp; hn<j}M'˝læ ≈Wj˝miAla, ˆheKo˝h' ax;y:˝w“
14.3.2 the priest shall look at him ˆheKo˝h' ha;r:˝w“
14.3.3 and behold, the leprous disease has been cured t['r"X;˝h'A[g"n< aP;r“nI hNEhi˝w“
from the leper, [æWrX;˝h'Aˆmi
14.4.1 then the priest shall command ˆheKo˝h' hW:xi˝w“
14.4.2 and shall take for him who is to be cleansed two µyrIP’xiAyT´v] rh´F'Mi˝l' jqæl;˝w“
living clean birds and cedarwood zr<a, ≈[´˝w“ t/rhof] t/Yj'
and scarlet stuff and hyssop; bzOae˝w“ t['læ/t ynIv]˝W
14.5.1 then the priest shall command ˆheKo˝h' hW:xi˝w“
14.5.2 and shall kill one of the birds tj;a,˝h; r/PXi˝h'Ata, fjæv;˝w“
in an earthen vessel over running water, µyYIj' µyImæAl[' cr<j≤AyliK]Ala,
14.6.1 while he shall take the living bird H˝t;ao jQæyI hY:j'˝hæ rPoXi˝h'Ata,
together with the cedarwood zr<a≤˝h; ≈[´Ata,˝w“
and the scarlet stuff and the hyssop, bzOae˝h;Ata,˝w“ t['læ/T˝h' ynIv]Ata,˝w“
14.6.2 and shall dip them and the living bird hY:j'˝h' rPoXi˝h' ta´˝w“ µ˝t;/a lb'f;˝w“
in the blood of the bird that was killed hf;juV]˝h' rPoXi˝h' µd"˝B]
over the running water; µyYIj'˝h' µyIMæ˝h' l[æ
14.7.1 he shall sprinkle it seven times upon him rh´F'Mi˝h' l[æ hZ:hi˝w“
who is to be cleansed of leprosy; µymi[;P] [b'v, t['r"X;˝h'Aˆmi
14.7.2 then he shall pronounce him clean, /˝rh}fi˝w“
14.7.3 and shall let the living bird go hY:j'˝hæ rPoXi˝h'Ata, jLævi˝w“
into the open field; hd<C;˝h' ynEP]Al['
14.8.1 the one who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, w˝yd:g:B]Ata, rheF'Mi˝h' sB,ki˝w“
14.8.2 shave off all his hair, /˝r[;c]AlK;Ata, jLægI˝w“
14.8.3 and bathe himself in water, µyIM'˝B' ≈jær:˝w“
14.8.4 and he shall be clean. rhef;˝w“
14.8.5 Only after that he shall come into the camp, hn<j}M'˝hæAla, a/by: rj'a'˝w“
14.8.6 but shall dwell outside his tent seven days; µymiy: t['b]vi /˝lh’a;˝l] ≈Wj˝mi bv'y:˝w“
14.9.1 then on the seventh day y[iybiV]˝h' µ/Y˝b' hy:h;˝w“

14.9.2 he shall shave all his hair – his head, /˝varoAta, /˝r[;c]AlK;Ata, jLæg"y“
his beard and his eyebrows – w˝yn:y[e tBoG" tae˝w“ /˝nq;z“Ata,˝w“
14.9.3 literally all his hair shall he shave; j"L´g"y“ /˝r[;c]AlK;Ata,˝w“
14.9.4 he shall wash his clothes, w˝yd:g:B]Ata, sB≤ki˝w“
14.9.5 and bathe his body in water, µyIMæ˝B' /˝rc;B]Ata, ≈jær:˝w“
14.9.6 and he shall be clean. rh´f;˝w“
14.2.1 is an indicative waw-x-yiqtol construction beginning the main line in
the future axis (§4c). This line continues with a chain of weqatal. Note that
(waw-) x-yiqtol30 is the main-line form found at the beginning of direct speech
in the axis of the future, while weqatal is the continuation form. The chain of
weqatal is not interrupted unless a change in the level of communication is to be
brought about.31 This is the case in 14.6.1,32 14.8.5 and 14.9.3 (the case of 14.9.2
is different; see next paragraph). As a consequence, a (waw-) x-yiqtol in the
course of a direct speech is a off-line verb form. Its function is to show that the
following information does not stand on the same text-linguistic level with the
one with weqatal; in other words, it conveys background information to the
preceding foreground weqatal. Now, in 14.6.1 the reason for using waw-x-yiqtol
instead of weqatal is to convey the fate of the second bird in comparison with
the fate of the first one – not as an item separate from, and successive to, it. In
14.8.5 waw-x-yiqtol has the function of stressing the ‘x’ element (‘only after
that’); similarly in 14.9.3 (‘literally all his hair’), after that the preceding appo-
sition phrase (‘his head, his beard and his eyebrows’) specified the first instruc-
tion having the same content (‘he shall shave all his hair’).
In 14.9.2 yiqtol is the apodosis, and the preceding prepositional phrase (‘on
the seventh day’) is the protasis. As in Judg. 2:19 (§5 above), hy:h;˝w“ introduces
a ‘double sentence’ and, being a weqatal form, places it in the main line of
communication in the future axis. There is no reason for analyzing the apodosis

30. Waw is an optional element in this construction; it has no syntactic significance. What
is significant is the position of the finite verb in the sentence. The same applies to (waw-)
x-qatal. Consult Syntax §113.
31. The result is a tense shift from foreground weqatal to background waw-x-yiqtol, a tense
shift parallel to the one from foreground wayyiqtol to background waw-x-qatal; the first is
characteristic of direct speech, the second of historical narrative; see Syntax §11. On the
various reasons for breaking the narrative chain of wayyiqtol consult Syntax §§39-49; by
and large, they also apply to the discursive chain of weqatal.
32. The accusative pronoun H˝t;ao might be considered a ‘resumptive pronoun’ and the
preceding hY:j'˝hæ rPoXi˝h'Ata, a casus pendens; see Syntax §124, and Lettura sintattica §4.6 on
the criteria to identify a casus pendens. However, it seems preferable to think that H˝t;ao is
expressed, though not needed, in order to add a second object; literally, “he shall take the
living bird — it and the cedarwood” etc.

(yiqtol) as an off-line form (see D.’s chart, p. 133) except for an undisputed
fidelity to the theoretical ‘Narrative Prediction Cline’ of p. 115.33 Because of a
similar fidelity, the hNEhi clause in 14.3.3 (‘the priest shall look at him, and be-
hold, the leprous disease has been cured’) is classified as off-line form (see
chart, p.Ê133).
On the interplay between main-line and off-line forms D. writes as follows:
[The wc + Suffix forms, i.e. weqatal] tend to occur in strings. Where these strings are
broken by non-subordinated off-line clauses, we can propose paragraph divisions, for
example: 14.3.3 (…), 14.6.1 (…); or peak moments in the text, as in the following se-
quence 14.8.5 [etc. until 14.9.6]. The proposal that these ‘off-line’ clauses mark the peak
events of the episode offers a reasonable explanation for the fact that the first shaving of
hair is described with wc + Suffix (… 14.8.1 [in fact, 14.8.2]), while the second is en-
coded with the off-line ‘direct object + Prefix’ clause (14.9.3). (…)
The off-line clauses used to mark paragraph division tend to occur singly; those which
mark peak sections tend to occur in collections, and form clusters around single main-
line clauses, or short strings thereof.
This profile is so similar in nature to that of the Judges 2, Narrative History, text that
it is difficult to understand how the existence of a Procedural/Instructional text-type has
been overlooked by contemporary text-linguists (pp. 134-135; italics in the original).
It is not easy to make sense of these statements. One wonders how the hNEhi
clause in 14.3.3 can be a paragraph division, and whether the division is to be
put before or after it. As a matter of fact, the hNEhi clause is strictly connected to
the preceding verb of ‘seeing,’ on the one hand; on the other hand, the clause
following it serves to instruct the priest in the case just described (i.e. in case
the leper has been cured). Similarly, the off-line clause in 14.6.1 is connected
to the previous clause as background to foreground. As a result, it seems im-
possible to see 14.3.3 and 14.6.1 as paragraph divisions.
Second, the distinction between off-line clauses marking paragraph divi-
sion, that occur singly, and those marking peak sections, that occur in collec-
tions, is a principle hard to verify. Here, for instance, of the eight clauses
contained in 14.8.5-14.9.6, only the first contains an off-line form (waw-x-
yiqtol), while yiqtol in 14.9.2 is apodosis, as already mentioned. Moreover,
among the eight clauses, one is with verb hyh, that is otherwise taken as a para-
graph division marker by D.
Third, it is difficult see how the ‘profile’ of Leviticus 14 is ‘so similar’ to
that of Judges 2. Here as in other similar occasions, D. makes ‘text-linguistic’
statements without further explanations so that it is easy to miss his point. One
gets the impression that his observations are rather at random and ad hoc; they
contain more description than evaluation.
§7. Leviticus 6-7. There is not much to learn from the very sketchy examination
of Lev. 6-7 (less than two pages). As D. notes,

33. In the apodosis yiqtol, weqatal and x-yiqtol exchange freely in the axis of the future;
see Syntax §113; Lettura sintattica §§4.2-4.4.

The material is set into a Narrative History framework, where it is recounted that
Moses was commanded by God to command the people (and here we have the Hortatory
text-type, which uses command forms, and wc + Suffix clauses for the main line) to do
certain things. Each of these units is introduced by a verbless clause beginning with taz
(p. 136).
It is surprising to read that the Hortatory text-type uses ‘command forms,
and wc + Suffix clauses for the main line.’ First, the only ‘command forms’ are
the three imperative (6:2; 6:18; 7:23); second, the ‘wc + Suffix clause,’ i.e.
weqatal, is not a main-line form but ‘Band 3: Results / Consequences (Motiva-
tion)’ according to the ‘Hortatory Cline’ on p. 116.
The structure of Lev. 6-7 can be outlined as follows:
(1) ‘The Lord spoke to Moses saying’
(2) ‘Command to (Aharon and his sons; or to the Israelites) saying’
(3) ‘This is the law of the (holocaust; offering etc.)…’
(4) Instruction; main section.
Wayyiqtol is used in (1), imperative in (2) and simple nominal (verbless)
clause in (3). The instruction (4) begins with indicative x-yiqtol,34 continues
with weqatal for the main line and x-yiqtol for the secondary line (expressing
background information, or putting emphasis on an ‘x’ element of the
sentence). Sometimes, (3) is missing. Even without doing a complete exami-
nation of Lev. 6-7, one can say that it behaves according to normal syntax. The
same applies to other ritual material in Leviticus.

§8. Parallel Pericopes from Exodus. Parallel texts are normally informative be-
cause they are favorite occasions to learn the potentialities of a language in ex-
pressing the same thing with different constructions.35 This is particularly true
of the parallel pericopes from Exod. 25-30 and 35-40. They are called by D. ‘first
account’ and ‘second account,’ respectively, but Ch. 25-31 are instruction by God
and Ch. 35-40 execution of the same works by the Israelites. What is informa-
tive is the repetition of the same text first as instruction, afterwards as
execution. These texts clearly show the syntactic structures characteristic of di-
rect speech (instruction) and of historical narrative (execution).
In his examination of these chapters, D. is interested, as usual, in identifying
the text-types, boundaries in the text, peaks etc., while syntactic analysis is done

34. With infinitive absolute in 6:7; consult GK §113 cc, gg.

35. Parallel texts of the Bible are conveniently arranged in synoptic columns in a useful
book by A. Bendavid, Parallels in the Bible, Jerusalem 1972. Besides these texts from
Exodus, partially studied in Syntax §§58-59, parallel accounts in 2 Samuel 5-7 and 1
Chronicles 11ff. are fully examined in Lettura sintattica §§21-23. Note that in the table of
Syntax, p. 88, one should read ‘Instruction’ instead of ‘Command’ in the first column,
because weqatal is a non-volitive form; therefore, it does not convey commands but
instructions. As mentioned above (§4d), the volitive counterpart of weqatal is weyiqtol.

by percentage. I will only make some remarks on syntax. With regard to Exod.
36 he writes:
There is a significant break in the pericope between vv. 13 and 14, which is marked by
the pericope’s only wc + Prefix clause with hyh (36.13.3—dja ˆkvmh yhyw); this clause is
followed by a clear topic shift (from the curtains of linen to the curtains of goats’ hair), and
can therefore be said clearly to mark a paragraph boundary. This is consistent with the func-
tion of such hyh clauses in other Narrative History texts (cf. Judg. 2) (pp. 139-140).
If we look at the parallel passages 36:13-14 and 26:6-7, we find the follow-
ing correspondence of verb forms for the same items:

Execution, wayyiqtol versus Instruction, weqatal

(Exod. 36:13) ‘and thus the versus (26:6) ‘and thus the sanctuary will
sanctuary became one thing,’ become one thing,’
with yhiy“w" with hy:h;w“
(36:14) ‘and he made,’ c['Y"w" versus (26:7) ‘and you shall make,’ t;yci[;w“

Both wayyiqtol (execution) and weqatal (instruction) are a link of a long

chain of identical verb forms. Syntactically, nothing marks a ‘paragraph
boundary.’ Only the items change, and this happens even where no form of hyh
appears in the text. The function of hyh as a ‘paragraph boundary’ depends,
then, on a given semantic conviction, which I do not share but I cannot
disprove. In any case, semantics cannot overrule syntax (see §1e above).
Before leaving the subject, I wish to mention the main correspondences
between the verb forms of the instruction and those of the execution as shown
in Syntax §§58-60:
- weqatal in the instruction becomes wayyiqtol in the execution for a single
- weqatal and x-yiqtol in the instruction are preserved in the execution for a
repeated action or description;
- initial indicative x-yiqtol also becomes wayyiqtol;
- ‘emphatic’ x-yiqtol (emphasizing the ‘x’ element) becomes ‘emphatic’ x-
qatal (with the same function);
- simple nominal (verbless) clauses remain unchanged, but their temporal value
changes: present tense in the instruction, and imperfect in the execution.
These correspondences fit well into the verbal system outlined above
(§4). First, wayyiqtol is characteristic of historical narrative and weqatal of di-
rect speech; both appear in strings. Second, x-yiqtol and x-qatal are emphatic,
or marked, constructions with an opposition of tenses: future in direct speech and
past in historical narrative, respectively. Third, simple nominal (verbless) clauses
are used in both genres but with a different temporal values: present in direct
speech and imperfect (i.e. ‘present in the past’) in historical narrative, respectively.

On Exod. 38:9-20 // 27:9-19 D. writes as follows.

The exceptional feature of this pericope is that these [‘wc + the appropriate conjuga-
tion’ clause, i.e. wayyiqtol and weqatal] are the only clauses with finite verbs; all others
are verbless clauses. (…)36 These texts are clearly neither Narrative History (or Proce-
dural/Lab Report) nor Procedural/Instructional; following clues from their semantic con-
tent and their macro-structure, we are lead to conclude that we have here another instance
of an embedded Expository text (…) (p. 150).
These remarks reflect a confused idea of the structure of the texts. This
structure is very simple:
- (1) ‘You shall do (this and this),’ in the instruction; and ‘He did (this and
this),’ in the execution;
- (2) Description of the thing to be done, in the instruction, or done, in the
In (1), weqatal is mostly used in the instruction, wayyiqtol in the
execution. The description in (2) is done by x-yiqtol clauses or by simple nominal
(verbless) clauses. Both constructions have a future temporal value in the instruc-
tion – x-yiqtol in itself, the simple nominal (verbless) clause for the fact of appear-
ing in a future context indicated by weqatal. In the execution, x-yiqtol becomes
x-qatal – except when a frequentative meaning is implied; in this case, x-yiqtol re-
mains unchanged, and so does the simple nominal (verbless) clause; however, their
temporal value changes: future in direct speech, past in historical narrative.
A consequence of this is that Exod. 38:9-20 // 27:9-19 do not show any
exceptional features at all. Another consequence is that none of D.’s text-types
applies here simply because none of them explains all the elements of the
text. The rigidity of the text-types approach is again visible, as well as the need
for distinguishing direct speech (instruction) from historical narrative
(execution). In fact, in order to handle these two genres together, D. had envis-
aged a strange text-type called ‘Procedural/Lab Report’ (pp. 146-147). How-
ever, he is forced to dismiss this genre here because the percentage of
characteristic verb forms (weqatal and wayyiqtol) is minimal, and the percent-
age is a basic criterion for him. D. finally decides to identify Exod. 38:9-20 /
/ 27:9-19 as ‘embedded Expository text.’ One wonders who will believe him.
Before drawing his conclusions, D. makes some methodological reflections
that merit attention:
Our data here present no conclusive evidence with regard either to the text-type iden-
tification of this ‘Historical’ texts or to the question of whether the two text-types under
discussion [i.e. ‘Narrative History text-type’ and ‘Procedural/Lab Report text-type’] are
differentiated in the surface structure of Classical Hebrew. (…)
We may proceed in spite of this insecurity, however, to gain as much ground as we
can at this early stage in our description, for little in the way of further text-linguistic

36. I skip a passage on the participles of this pericope because it hardly adds anything to
our knowledge.

description in this volume will be hindered by the relative insecurity of these particular
observations (p. 149).
The need for a larger data-base is frequently voiced by D. In itself, this claim
is certainly correct. The problem is that without good criteria the examination
of more data will not help, and percentage is not a good criterion, nor are the
four text-types. As the reader has recognized by now, the kind of analysis done
by D. is basically a description of Biblical texts from the perspective of the text-
types. It is only logical that this kind of examination is not complete until all
the texts are examined. Faced with problems for lack of syntactic criteria, from
time to time D. professes a kind of ‘eschatological’ hope that more texts will,
eventually, produce more conclusive results (see also §10 below).
A text-linguistic analysis based on syntax can, on the contrary, produce firm
results even if not all the Biblical texts are examined. In fact, it looks at the
function of the verb forms in themselves and in relationship to one another in
the framework of a comprehensive verbal system. Such functions are the same
in all the possible texts and do not depend at all on the identification of the
different text-types. For this reason, already in the first draft of Sintassi in 1986
I dared to affirm that while a scrutiny of a wider selection of texts might con-
tribute further refinements, I did not envisage major modifications. Curiously
enough, D. who criticizes this statement (p. 39), expresses something similar
himself as he writes,
Owing to the small amount of data currently reviewed, I offer these [conclusions] as
a tentative working hypothesis, although I do not believe they will require much altera-
tion as more data are processed (note 56, pp. 150-151; italics added).

§9. Jephthah. The intention of D.’s examination of this narrative is clearly stated
in the following quotation:
My main purpose, as I turn to the Jephthah story, is to underline a principle which
will be received with skepticism by some hebraists, and which, therefore, will require
more thorough explanation. The principle is this: Features that are characteristic of spe-
cific text-types will be found in material of that text-type, whether in Reported Speech
sections or not.
To this end we will look to the non-subordinated narrative, and compare it to five
Reported Speech sections of the Jephthah story. Here I will be confronting directly
Niccacci’s thoughts on this passage, for he comes to very different conclusions from my
own (p. 154).
The subject under discussion is what I called the ‘narrative discourse,’ or
‘oral narrative’ (§4a above). Its difference from historical narrative is
double. On the one hand, oral narrative is done from the perspective of the
speaker and uses, besides the third, also the first and the second person, while
historical narrative is done by a third party, the historian, and uses the third
person only. On the other hand, the beginning of the main line of communica-
tion is marked by a different verb forms: (clause-initial) qatal or x-qatal in oral

narrative, wayyiqtol in historical narrative; however, in the course of the narra-

tive the two genres use the same verb forms: wayyiqtol for the main line, and
waw-x-qatal for the secondary line (expressing antecedent, or background
information). This similarity is due to the fact that Biblical Hebrew, unlike Neo-
Latin languages, does not possess a complete set of distinctive verb forms for
the two genres.
Dawson is uncompromisingly opposed to this idea because, of course, the
distinction of direct speech and historical narrative undermines the basis of his
theory. The whole Ch. 5 of his dissertation is a hard itinerary through Reported
Speech sections with this intention in mind.
§9a Judg. 11:4-5. The analysis of the Jephthah story (Judg. 10:6-12:7) is
done in two stages; first, the historical narrative outside the Reported Speech
is investigated, then the direct speech. The historical narrative is outlined in a
very sketchy way. Moreover, from the ‘macrosyntactic clues (with minimal
reference to other [e.g. semantic] clues)’ presented on p. 157, it is not always
clear which clauses are referred to as ‘off-line clauses at the beginning of a
section’ or ‘at the end of a section’ (p. 158). D. operates with the criteria we
have already discussed, e.g. the negated verb forms and the hyh clauses are
considered off-line constructions indicating the boundaries of the different
sections. I do not need to repeat my reservations about the syntactic status of
both the negated verb forms (§3 above) and the hyh clauses (§1e above).
It is instructing to observe the function of two yhyw forms in Judg. 11:4-5.
11.4.1 It happened after a certain time µymiY:˝mi yhiy“˝w"
11.4.2 that the Ammonites started war against Israel. la´r:c]yIAµ[i ˆ/M['AynEb] Wmj}L;YI˝w"
11.5.1 And when the Ammonites had started war ˆ/M['AynEb] Wmj}l]nIArv,a}˝K' yhiy“˝w"
against Israel, laer:c]yIAµ[i
11.5.2 the elders of Gilead went to bring tj'qæ˝l; d[;l]gI ynEq]zI Wkl]YE˝w"
Jephthah from the land of Tob. b/f ≈r<a≤˝me jT…p]yIAta,
Both yhiy“˝w" forms are ‘macrosyntactic markers’ because they introduce a dou-
ble sentence composed of protasis and apodosis (§1e above). In 11:4, ‘after a
certain time’ (a prepositional phrase) is the protasis, and ‘the Ammonites started
war’ (a wayyiqtol clause) is the apodosis; in 11:5, the protasis is ‘when the
Ammonites had started war’ (a subordinated rv,a}˝K' + qatal clause), and the
apodosis ‘the elders of Gilead went’ (again a wayyiqtol clause). Note that both
these patterns of double sentence are also attested without a preceding yhiy“˝w";37 for
the first pattern, i.e. prepositional phrase (protasis) – wayyiqtol (apodosis) see
Syntax §103, and for the second pattern, i.e. rv,a}˝K' (or another subordinating

37. Other cases of µymiY:˝mi yhiy“˝w" are Josh. 23:1 and Judg. 15:1; cf. 2 Chron. 21:19. Initial µymiY:˝mi
(without yhiy“˝w") is found in Judg. 11:40; cf. 1 Chron. 17:10.

conjunction) + qatal (protasis) – wayyiqtol (apodosis) see Syntax §§98 and

101. This fact means that yhiy“˝w" is not part of the sentence grammatically. It has
a syntactic function, however: it makes the double sentence verbal. It also has
a ‘macrosyntactic’ function: it makes the double sentence a main-line construc-
tion because of the very fact of being a wayyiqtol.
This syntactic analysis is, on the one hand, an indirect proof against the
function of hyh as a ‘paragraph boundary’; in fact, for this function a nominal
sentence would be used without any form of hyh.38 On the other hand, from a
semantic point of view alone, it is hard to convince anybody that, e.g., yhiy“˝w" in
11.5.1 is an off-line form as it picks up the news of the war given in 11.4.2.
Dawson’s analysis goes on only interested in paragraph boundaries, and real
syntactic problems remain untouched (e.g. 11:29). On p. 158, his conclusion
concerning the pattern of the text-type is unverifiable for lack of precision. He
These clauses have a distribution similar to those we looked at in Judges 2; that is,
those which occur singly appear to indicate minor paragraph breaks; those that occur in
larger blocks appear to indicate a major break, or a peak in the episode (p. 158).
In addition to the lack of syntactic criteria,39 the lack of precise comparison
of the texts involved is frustrating because similarities are claimed rather than
§9b ‘Narrative History in Reported Speech’. From p. 164 on, D. examines
the ‘Narrative History in Reported Speech’ in greater detail. This topic consti-
tutes a major casus belli that is mentioned several times, but the suspense about
the solution intended by D. remains high until the very end. Upon comparing
the more important passages, D.’s stand appears to vacillate a bit. He writes:

38. Nominal clauses, both simple (verbless) and with a finite verb in the second place, are
devices interrupting the main line of communication in historical narrative; they are also
used in the closure of a text (see Ruth 1:22-23 and 4:18-22 examined in: “Syntactic Analysis
of Ruth”).
39. This is also apparent in the way Dawson expresses himself, e.g.: ‘It is not incon-
ceivable’; ‘I would suggest’; ‘some conclusions can be ventured’;‘I would like to make
another tentative observation’; ‘I am tempted to propose,’ and the like. One may wonder
whether this is only a sign of commendable humility in expounding his own ideas. A
similar remark on off-line clauses marking paragraph division or peak was made during the
examination of Lev. 14 (p. 134); even there, the remark is flawed by incorrect syntactic
analysis (see my comment in §6 above).
40. In a rare case of a precise reference, we find an unfortunate parallel. On p. 162 Dawson
writes: “we have seen that single main-line clauses flanked by off-line clauses tend to stand
out as the peak clause of a unit;” and in note 19 he adds: “For example, at Judg. 2.18.4; we
have seen similar features in other text-types as well, in our examinations of Leviticus and
Exodus texts; see Ch. 4 above.” Now, while the reference to Ch. 4 is vague, the one to the
passage from Judges is precise but inaccurate because, as observed above (§5), the clause
2.18.4 is a weqatal, that is a off-line, not a main-line, form.

I found that, yes, what Niccacci calls ‘narrative discourse’ is indeed distinctive, but
that this is traceable to factors related to the embedding of a unit or Reported speech in
the Speech Formula clause, rather than it being a distinctive type of text in its own right. In
this case, I had distrusted Niccacci’s observations, while they were accurate, and yet
found a different explanation which, I believe, describes the data more accurately and
elegantly than his (p. 121; italics in the original).
The most significant point here is that there is nothing out of the ordinary about this
Narrative History text. It opens, as do many Narrative History texts, with the same stage-
setting device of a hyh clause; its boundaries are marked by the same sort of features as
we have noted in other Narrative History texts. This begins to call into doubt the conclu-
sions voiced by Niccacci on Judges 11: that somehow ‘narrative discourse’ has a differ-
ent shape to it from narrative proper (p. 166; italics in the original).
Dawson’s solution is finally given at p. 175; but before discussing it, I wish
to comment on his examination of the texts. In his view, the ‘Narrative History
text’ in Judg. 12:2-3 “opens, as do many Narrative History texts, with the stage-
setting device of a hyh clause” (p. 166). In a footnote 26 he adds:
We will see the same device employed in the book of Ruth on more than one
occasion. Logic as well gives us a rationale for such a function and device: do we not say
that a story has to ‘start somewhere?’ We expect a story to start with some kind of anchor
into space and time—this kind of anchor is provided by such things as Verbless, and hyh
clauses—and if such a setting slot were filled by an embedded text of more than one
clause in length, we would expect it to be an Expository one, which has as its main line
just such clauses (note 26, p. 166).
One would remark, first, that simple nominal (verbless) and hyh clauses are
not interchangeable because, as R. Bartelmus has shown,41 verb forms of hyh
occur to express a reference to the past (wayyiqtol, qatal) and to the future (yiqtol,
weqatal), while for a reference to the present, hyh does not appear but the simple
nominal (verbless) clause is used instead. Second, since D. makes no distinc-
tion between different verb forms of hyh, we can ask: is there any difference
between qatal in Judg. 12:2 and wayyiqtol in Ruth 1:1-2? Third, the ‘stage-
setting’ clauses studied in Syntax §§16-19 (and attested in real texts, not merely
‘expected’) contain, besides the simple nominal (verbless) clauses that D. would
‘expect’ in an Expository text-type, also waw-x-qatal, waw-x-yiqtol, and weqatal
of any root (not only hyh). This means that the ‘stage-setting clauses’ (called
‘antecedent’ constructions in Syntax) simply convey, in the secondary line of
communication, the setting of the following story, and this does not correspond
to the Expository text-type described by D. Fourth, there are examples of
(clause-initial) qatal or x-qatal at the beginning of an oral narrative, correspond-
ing to wayyiqtol in historical narrative, both used for the same event, first nar-
rated by the historian, then reported orally.42

41. See bibliography and discussion in my paper, “Sullo stato sintattico del verbo häyâ.”
42. See §4a above, and the examination of Ruth 3:15 versus 3:17 and 4:13 versus 4:17 in:
“Syntactic Analysis of Ruth.” In Syntax §§22-23 about twenty such cases are listed.

On this basis, I feel justified to affirm that Judg. 12:2 and, say, Job 1:1 show
clauses that are superficially identical but syntactically different.
Judg. 12:2 I and my people had a great feud y˝Mi['˝w“ ynIa} ytiyyIh; byrI vyai
with the Ammonites. daom] ˆ/M['AynEb]˝W
Job 1:1 Now, there was a man in the land of Uz. ≈W[A≈r<a≤˝b] hy:h; vyai
Indeed, the function of the two texts is different. In Judg. 12:2, Jephthah is
informing orally on the war against the Ammonites described in the previous
chapter, and therefore a stage-setting function of qatal is excluded; on the con-
trary, this function is clear in Job 1:1, which provides antecedent information
before the beginning of the story.43 The two texts are, therefore, not compara-
ble. Qatal at the beginning of an oral narrative is main-line form.

§9c Judg. 10:10

10.10.1 rmoa˝le hw:hy“Ala, laer:c]yI ynEB] Wq[}z“YI˝w"
The Israelites cried to the Lord, saying,
10.10.2 ‘We have sinned against you, Ë˝l; Wnaf;j;
10.10.3 precisely because we have forsaken our God Wn˝yheløa‘Ata, Wnb]z"[; yki˝w“
10.10.4 and have served the Baals.’ µyli[;B]˝h'Ata, dbo[}N"˝w"
Dawson comments as follows:
10.10.3-4 is an embedded Narrative History text, filling the Direct Object slot in the
speech formula. The second clause in this embedded text begins with a wc + Prefix form
[i.e. wayyiqtol], but the first begins wit yk, which must be clause-initial; so the verb form
in this first clause (and therefore the clause-type) must accommodate it—this is the only
reason we need to seek for the Suffix clause replacing a wc + Prefix clause (p. 167; italics
in the original).
In note 29 he adds:
We are, of course, speaking of non-entities; there is no ‘wc + Prefix clause’, and
therefore we can only posit that it ‘would otherwise have been there’. It is clear, how-
ever, that if it ‘wanted’ to be there, it nevertheless could not be there, owing to the restric-
tions placed on the clause by the subordinating conjunction (p. 167).
Dawson first affirms, then disproves his affirmation. The result is that one
is left without a solution. On the one hand, D. argues as if the initial qatal
(10.10.2) was not there; on the other hand, he labels the clauses 10.10.3-4 as
Narrative History text because they contain a wayyiqtol. It seems clear that,
first, D.’s theory is incapable of handling this text; second, the quest for text-
types is misplaced here. With a rigid theory of text-types, and without a clear
syntax of the clause, any text-linguistic analysis is impossible.

43. The antecedent information extends throughout vv. 1-5 and develops into a short narra-
tive; see Syntax §90.

In my system, the analysis of Judg. 10:10 is simple. Clause 10.10.2 con-

tains an initial, main-line qatal in direct speech; 10.10.3 is a subordinated clause
with a causal function, and 10.10.4 is a continuation wayyiqtol having the same
function as the causal clause, i.e. it is not a main-line wayyiqtol (see Judg. 2.17.3
examined in §5 above). By comparing other, almost identical passages, e.g. 1
Sam. 12:10 and Num. 21:17, it is clear that the waw in yKiw“ (10.10.3) is
epexegetical or emphatic; therefore, I have translated it with ‘precisely.’ Another
clause-initial Wnaf…j; is found in Judg. 10:15.

§9d Judg. 10:11-14

10.11.1 The Lord said to the Israelites, la´r:c]yI ynEB]Ala, hw:hy“ rm,aYo˝w"
10.11.2 ‘Is it not that when the Egyptians, µyIr"x]Mi˝mi alø˝h}
the Amorites, the Ammonites ˆ/M[' ynEB]Aˆmi˝W yrImoa‘˝h…Aˆmi˝W
and the Philistines, on the one hand, µyTiv]liP]Aˆmi˝W
10.12.1 and the Sidonians, the Amalekites qlem;[}˝w" µynI/dyxi˝w“
and the Maonites, on the other, oppressed you, µk,˝t]a, Wxj}l; ˆ/[m;˝W
10.12.2 and you cried to me, y˝l'ae Wq[}x]Ti˝w"
10.12.3 I saved you from their hand? µ˝d:Y:˝mi µk,˝t]a, h[;yvi/a˝w:
10.13.1 You, on your part, have forsaken me y˝ti/a µT≤b]z"[} µT,a'˝w“
10.13.2 and served other gods; µyrIjea} µyhiløa‘ Wdb]['T'˝w"
10.13.3 therefore I will save you no more. µk≤˝t]a, ["yvi/h˝l] πysi/aAalø ˆk´˝l;
10.14.1 Go Wkl]
10.14.2 and cry to the gods µyhiløa‘˝h…Ala, Wq[}z"˝w“
10.14.3 whom you have chosen; µ˝B; µT≤r“j'B] rv,a}
10.14.4 let them save you in the time of your distress.’ µk,˝t]r"x; t[´˝B] µk≤˝l; W[yvi/y hM;h´

I doubt that D.’s analysis of this ‘rather complex’ text (p. 168) has anything
to recommend itself. He writes:
YHWH’s response begins with a question (an elliptical one, at that). (…)
This Narrative History text is introduced by a Suffix clause (providing, along with
the rhetorical question preceding it, a setting for the text that follows), and a second episode
of it is signalled by another of the same [i.e. 10.13.1]. This text presents us with no
surprises (pp. 168; 169).
A different analysis recommends itself. Units 10.11.2 and 10.12.1 are one
sentence type x-qatal introduced by alø˝h}. The names of the peoples in 10.11.2-
10.12.1 are linked according to the following pattern: -w … ˆmi ‘from … to’;44

44. The pattern -w … ˆmi ‘from … to’ is equivalent to d['w“ … ˆmi; see Josh. 23:4; 2 Sam. 5:9; 2
Kgs 10:33 etc.

therefore, I translated, ‘on the one hand … on the other.’ Since the sentence is
complete without it, the particle alø˝h} has no grammatical function but does have
a pragmatic, or illocutory, function. The sentence is double, composed of an x-
qatal (10.11.2-10.12.1) and a continuation wayyiqtol (10.12.2) as the protasis,
and of wayyiqtol as the apodosis (10.12.3).45 The following clause (10.13.1) is
a waw-x-qatal with the function of indicating a contrast with the preceding one,46
i.e. the response of the people is in contrast with God’s salvation. This off-line
waw-x-qatal clause is followed by another continuation wayyiqtol (10.13.2). Be-
cause it comes after volitive clauses (10.14.1-2, two coordinated imperative
forms), the x-yiqtol clause in 10.14.4 is also volitive (jussive),47 and the ‘x’
element in front of the yiqtol bears emphasis as the speech situation shows very
clearly: ‘I will save you no more … let them save you.’

§9e Judg. 11:7

11.7.1 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, d[;l]gI ynEq]zI˝l] jT;p]yI rm,aYo˝w"
11.7.2 ‘Did you not hate me, y˝ti/a µt≤anEc] µT,a' alø˝h}
11.7.3 and drive me out of my father’s house? y˝bia; tyB´˝mi ynI˝Wvr“g:T]˝w"
11.7.4 Why then have you come to me now hT;[' y˝l'ae µt≤aB; ["WDm'˝W
11.7.5 when you are in distress?’ µk,˝l; rx' rv,a}˝K'
After a strange remark where, in his words, he ‘toys’ with the rhetorical
question and compares it to the infinitive absolute (sic), D. concludes that 11.7.2
is “in any case a simple statement of a past event” (p. 171); however, according
to his theory, qatal is ‘Band 2: Backgrounded actions’ (p. 115). A few lines
later in the same page D. betrays his hesitation between theory and common
sense as he writes:
Thus, I consider 11.7.2 to be a Narrative History clause, turned inside out to express
annoyance, or superiority, or some other such nuance. It serves the purpose of introducing
the historical setting (and first event) of a brief Narrative History text (p. 171; italics added).
In my understanding, to say that the same qatal introduces ‘the historical
setting’ and also ‘first event’ is self-contradictory; D. is probably trying to solve
the contrast between theory (‘historical setting’) and common sense (‘first event’)
concerning the function of qatal in oral narrative.

45. For an x-qatal clause functioning as protasis see Syntax §105. The apodosis shows, in
the axis of the past, wayyiqtol, qatal or x-qatal without any difference; in the axis of the
future, we find weqatal, yiqtol or x-yiqtol, also without any difference; and for the axis of
the present, the simple nominal (verbless) clause. See Syntax §113; Lettura sintattica §4.2.
46. This ‘tense shift’ type wayyiqtol → waw-x-qatal is characteristic of historical
narrative. As already noted, the oral narrative uses the same verb forms as the historical
narrative except for the beginning (§§4; 9 beginning).
47. See Syntax §64:3; “A Neglected Point” §1.3.1.

§9f Judg. 11:15-27. Judg. 11:15-27 is the longest text examined by D.; it is
also studied in Syntax §§75-76. After a rather sketchy analysis D. comes to a
conclusion where at last he explains his solution against mine. He repeats his
conviction that there is no difference between ‘Narrative History in non-Reported
Speech,’ or historical narrative, and ‘Narrative History in Reported Speech,’ or
oral narrative. Yet, a little difference at least must be present because he writes:
What little evidence Niccacci cites in favor of his proposal is more elegantly ex-
plained by two, somewhat overlapping, principles (pp. 174-175).
His first principle is something we both agree upon: a Narrative History text
frequently begins with a ‘stage-setting section,’ i.e. what I called ‘antecedent
information.’ D. continues:
Second, even where a text might conceivably employ a clause-initial, main-line for
Narrative History, wc + Prefix clause [i.e. wayyiqtol], this does not happen. The lan-
guage prefers to underscore the relationship between the embedded Reported Speech
material, and the speech formula into which it is embedded as Direct Object.
This may sound very like what Niccacci has proposed; it is, in fact, radically
different. Niccacci proposes that ‘narrative discourse’ is a different ‘type of narrative’;
I propose that Narrative History texts are formulated according to the same principles
whether in Reported Speech or in non-Reported Speech—there is no ‘different type of
narrative’ for Reported Speech. Material in Reported Speech is, however, subject to
restrictions with regard to its initial clause—in order to call attention to the fact of its
being embedded—as if to say ‘this is not actually the beginning of the clause; rather, it
is the Direct Object of another clause’ (p. 175; italics in the original).
Some comments are in order. First, I noted several times in this paper an
incertitude in D.’s analysis of qatal in direct speech; it is said to be ‘a stage-
setting device,’ on the one hand, and ‘a simple statement of a past event,’ on the
other. Second, if a Narrative History in Reported Speech is embedded as Direct
Object of the speech formula – that is, I suppose: ‘He said that…(Narrative
History)’ –, how is it possible to analyze this supposedly ‘that-clause’ as a
‘stage-setting device’? Third, having stated the principle, “Features that are
characteristic of specific text-types will be found in material of that text-type,
whether in Reported Speech sections or not” (p. 154), D. now concedes that this
is not true in at least one aspect, since qatal replaces wayyiqtol in the first clause
of a Narrative History text.

§10. Conclusion. Dawson presents a summary and conclusions after his exami-
nation of Jephthah and Ruth,48 and then a general summary, conclusions and
implications of his dissertation. He lists three hindering factors with regard to
the examination of Reported Speech material, the main point under discussion:

48. Due to space problems, I publish separately my discussion on Ruth; see “Syntactic
Analysis of Ruth” earlier in the present volume. There I comment more fully on the
phenomenon of embedding as envisaged by Dawson; see end of the previous section.

1. Although I have, throughout this volume, cited the need to test our conclusions
against further data, here the need is the greater; in short, the data-sample has been too
small to make any but the most obvious, and the most tentative observations, for a variety
of reasons. Nonetheless, here more than elsewhere we need to process more texts.
2. The first of these reasons for needing a larger data-base is that text-types within
Reported Speech material shift rapidly, and it is not common to find long stretches of
material in a single text-type. Broadening our data-base would bring to us more texts of
a greater length, which are a better starting point for research than shorter ones.
3. It is clear that subordination (which is more common in Reported Speech than in
non-Reported Speech), specifically, and embedding, more generally—by reason of their
cohesion with other units within their context—both limit the kinds of clauses that can
occur at the outset of any text unit in such a section. This immediately means that we
have a greater number of clauses than we would like whose surface-structure signals as
to text-type have been obscured by such permutations (p. 207).
One would observe, first, that the largest data-base possible cannot solve the
problems unless one is equipped with sound criteria of analysis; quantity will
never be a substitute for quality. Second, one may wonder why did D. not choose
texts with ‘long stretches of material in a single text-type,’ such as Lev. 14 and
Exod. 25-31 which he studied in only a very sketchy form; or as Deuteronomy,
instead of engaging in the examination of Ruth. On the other hand, if it proves
difficult to find texts suitable for the theory of the text-types, the theory itself might
be in need of revision. Reported Speech ‘shifts rapidly’ not only in the texts D.
has examined but also elsewhere. As a matter of fact, D.’s theory proved to be too
rigid in the definition of the text-types; as a result, it seemed inadequate to handle
Reported Speech material. There is also a need for a better syntactic basis; see my
remarks on the ‘Clines’ of the text-types established in pp. 115-116 (§3 above).
Let us discuss D.’s understanding of subordination and embedding. I go back
here to a point raised at the end of §9f above. After having used the two terms
almost interchangeably, D. seems to understand subordination as specific and
embedding as general phenomenon (see remark no. 3 quoted above). This point
is never fully explained and some ambiguity remains as to what are the gram-
matical consequences of embedding as compared to subordination. In other
words, one would like to know whether embedding involves a grammatical
change in the texts. In the following statement, D. is more specific:
[The Narrative History texts in Reported Speech] were found to conform significantly
to patterns we had seen in earlier Narrative History material [i.e. Jephthah and Ruth],
with one slight exception: the first clause in the embedded Narrative History material
never took a wc + Prefix form [i.e. wayyiqtol]. However, rather than following Niccacci’s
lead in defining this as a different type of Narrative, I propose that the first clause in any
Reported Speech unit always indicates its status as an element in the (speech introduc-
tion) clause in which it is embedded, and therefore it is never, in terms of surface struc-
ture, clause initial (p. 214).
First, the assumption of a grammatical change in the first clause of a direct
speech because of embedding – that is, because it is an Object clause of the
speech introduction – is totally speculative. The only verifiable case of embed-

ding is ‘indirect speech’ (oratio obliqua). Second, if qatal is a ‘stage-setting

device’ as supposed by D. a number of times, then embedding is unnecessary,
even out of the question; because as D. maintains, this qatal is also found in
‘non-embedded Narrative History texts.’ On the contrary, if qatal is a substi-
tute for main-line wayyiqtol because of the embedding, then it cannot be at the
same time a ‘stage-setting device,’ which is an off-line form.
Among the ‘encouraging results’ of his investigation, D. explicitly mentions
Ruth 2:15-16. He writes as follows:
One of my working hypotheses was that the constituent structure of a text would be
marked by divergences from the main-line form in all text-types, and that the ‘off-line
marking of constituent structure will be confirmed by other types of marking
devices’. Where the text has been ample enough to examine both main-line and off-line
clauses in a single text-type, we have seen this hypothesis substantiated: Ruth 2.15.2-
16.4 is a good example of this, where syntactically marked divisions are confirmed by a
shift in topical focus (p. 207).
This is a rather cryptic allusion to the analysis of the passage presented in
p. 196. However, my analysis diverges considerably from that of D. because
we evaluate differently the function of the verb forms involved.49 Similarly,
other two ‘encouraging results’ in pp. 207-208 are in need of revision if the
remarks made here merit some credit.
In the last section of Ch. 6, ‘Implications for Progress,’ D. indicates several
points for future research. Of course, he intends to continue with the text-types
and their verb-rank clines. I have already commented on the strong point as
well as weakness of this methodology; it constitutes an advancement with re-
gard to traditional, clause-bound grammar, but it is too rigidly defined and lacks
a solid syntactic base. Happily enough, D. is aware of the necessity of being
open to new ideas. As he writes,
Much new material is coming out, which has the potential of changing radically the
way Hebrew is taught and studied. This will require careful monitoring, of course; much
can seem helpful that is not. The most important measure of a description is how well
it deals with all the language, especially the difficult data (p. 217; italics in the original).
This is correct except maybe for the last sentence. Since every language has
its anomalies, one cannot start with these, but rather with well-attested phenom-
ena and regularities.
Another good point raised by D. is the need of a text-linguistic description
of syntax in poetry. On Watson’s Classical Hebrew Poetry D. writes that it
“includes little real syntax” (p. 217). This may be true; however, one can ask
what is syntax, and what is text linguistics for D. Something may gleaned from
the following words where D. spells out his expectations from a thorough ex-
amination of the book of Ruth:

49. See my paper: “Syntactic Analysis of Ruth,” comment on 2:15-16.


In a different vein, a more thorough examination of the book of Ruth than I have been
able to present in this work would allow us to trace the themes and purposes of the book,
as reflected in the peak marking, topic continuity and shifts, participant reference, and
the deployment of tension-maintaining devices in the text (p. 218).
Dawson goes on to envisage a possible contribution of text linguistics to
text-critical discussions; but he does not explain how this could happen. Finally,
he affirms the advantage of text linguistics in the following terms:
(…) learning (and therefore teaching) any language is greatly simplified if its forms
are systematized—all the more so if it is a dead language. If the system of text-types
were presented to students (I do not mean the theoretical parameters, but rather the sim-
ple existence of these text-types), and their associated main-line forms, then this much,
in one stroke, would give the learner a handle to begin sorting through the various dis-
tributions and functions of the Hebrew verb (p. 218; italics in the original).
As the reader knows well at this point, we agree on the general outlook, that
is, giving priority to the text; we disagree on the necessity of text-types. In my
opinion, a ‘bottom-up methodology’ is a necessary starting point. From a sound
syntax of the verb forms, their functions and relationships at successive ascend-
ing levels – sentence, paragraph, and text – it is possible to make a good analy-
sis of the texts. On this basis, I think, a sound theory of text-types can be built
in order to proceed to a higher literary analysis of the texts. Hopefully, dia-
logue will continue.
Alviero Niccacci, ofm

Clifford Richard J., Creation Account in the Ancient Near East and in the
Bible (The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. Monograph Series 26), Washington
1994, XIII-217 pp., $ 9.00

L’A., nella stessa collana, aveva già curato, con J.J. Collins, Creation in the
Biblical Tradition (1992). Il lavoro che presentiamo ha una breve introduzione
(o cap. I: pp. 1-10) e conclusione (pp. 198-203) e due parti. Nella prima si stu-
diano le cosmogonie dell’Antico Oriente, di cui diciamo subito che non dare-
mo il lungo elenco, e nella seconda i testi biblici analoghi dell’AT.
L’A. inizia con i testi mesopotamici, cui dedica due capitoli: uno a quelli
sumerici (cap. II: pp. 13-53) e l’altro a quelli accadici (cap. III: pp. 54-98).
Facendo notare che le cosmogonie dell’Antico Oriente sono arrivate anche in
Canaan (tra gli Ittiti, a Ugarit, perfino a Megiddo e in una biblioteca scoperta
recentemente a Emar, nella Siria orientale), l’A. passa in rassegna documenti
sumerici del terzo millennio e dell’inizio del secondo: a) liste di divinità da
cui si può ricostruire una loro genealogia, b) testi narrativi di Nippur, con i
relativi motivi “cosmici” che, cioè, abbracciano cielo e terra, c) quelli di Eridu,
con i loro motivi “ctonici”, dove si considera solo la creazione della terra, ed
infine d) un testo a sé stante, di Assur.

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