Diachronic Poetology of the Hebrew Bible and Related Ancient Near Eastern / Early Jewish Literature

Programme

The Research Unit focuses on historical developments in the use of poetic figures during the creation, editing, and transmission of the Hebrew Bible. The stylistic figures used by the authors of ancient Hebrew poetry did not remain unaltered during the long history of the Hebrew Bible, but were modified and changed in the course of time, and new poetic figures and approaches emerged. The large number of diverse poetic forms in the transmitted texts of the Hebrew Bible is, at least in part, due to a complex development of language, form, and style. In order to deepen the diachronic perspective and to open comparatistic horizons, the research group also investigates related poetic literature of the Ancient Near East and Early Judaism, particularly from Ugarit and the Dead Sea scrolls.

By analyzing the poetry of the Hebrew Bible and of related ancient Near Eastern and ancient Jewish literature in a diachronic perspective, the research group breaks fresh ground by bringing together two strings of research that seldom intersected in the last decades: the poetological study of ancient Hebrew biblical and related texts, on the one hand, and the literary and redaction critical perspective on the formation of the Hebrew Bible, which in recent research has been applied extensively to its poetical books (particularly Psalms and Job), on the other. What difference does it make for understanding the poetry of the Hebrew Bible to investigate the stylistic and poetic features of the Hebrew texts diachronically? How did poetical features change in the course of time? Can poetological observations be used for discerning editorial processes and reconstructing redaction layers in biblical poetry? How can we describe the impact of historical change of form and genre on the function of a text? Which role does the difference in genre play in diachronic poetology? What evidence exactly holds as empirical and solid if we try to map the dynamics of poetic and stylistic figures? What kind of methodological conclusions need to be drawn from these discussions?

Keywords:

North-west Semitic Poetry, Poetology, Form Criticism, Rhetorical Criticism, Hebrew Syntax, Historical Linguistics, Literary History, Redaction Criticism

Chairs

Reinhard Müller
University of Münster 

Urmas Nõmmik
University of Tartu

Member Area

Wuppertal 2020 Call for Papers

In 2020, two sessions will be announced. The invited session will deal with “Psalm forms in the monarchic era”. Going back to the possible earliest forms of poetical literature is a fruitful undertaking, in order to critically reflect the change in form and genre. In several studies of the last decades, the beginnings of the psalm literature have been addressed redaction critically, sometimes involving also observations about the form. The papers of the session will gather form historical observations regarding the earliest literary layers and provide respective case studies. The papers also critically ask about the implications of the poetological study for redaction criticism, reading earliest layers synchronically and drawing consequences for a diachronical analysis

As for the open session, the Research Unit welcomes any paper focusing on poetological problems in the Hebrew Bible or related ancient Near Eastern and ancient Jewish literature, and investigates them in a clear diachronic, historical perspective. It particularly invites papers that address observable changes in poetic patterns that are documented in different texts of the same or similar genre.




The Annual Conference 2020
has been cancelled.