"I speak my work unto the King" : a speech-act theory of biblical poetry
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This thesis attempts to clarify the distinction between prose and poetry in the Hebrew Bible by appealing to the speech-act theories of J.L. Austin, Paul Grice, and Mary-Louise Pratt. “Poetry” in the Hebrew Bible is herein defined as “that set of speech-acts for which parallelism is a formal element.” This definition allows the reader to identify poetic speeches by their felicity conditions, rather than relying purely on stylistic features, and to interpret exceptions to the rule of parallelism in terms of Gricean implicature. The present thesis provides a systematic approach to identifying poetic utterances in the Hebrew Bible based on their felicity conditions, and then proceeds to analyze both non-parallelistic members of typically poetic genres and parallelistic members of typically prosaic genres, according to the rules of speech-acts. The body chapters apply this thesis to Ecclesiastes 1-2, I Kings 21, and Genesis 8-9, making fine distinctions between prose and poetry in these texts, resolving several exegetical problems.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2021-10-31
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 31st October 2021
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