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Polak - Storytelling and Redaction - Exodus Narrative.pdf

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A shorter version of this paper was published as ‘Story Telling and Redaction: Varieties of Language Usage in the Exodus Narrative’, in The Formation of the Pentateuch: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Europe, Israel, and North America (ed. J.C. Gertz, B.M. Levinson, D. Rom-Shiloni and K. Schmid; FAT 111; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck), 443–475. Story Telling and Redaction: Varieties and Vagaries of Language Usage in the Exodus Narrative
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  A shorter version of this paper was published as ‘Story Telling and Redaction: Varieties of Language Usage in the Exodus Narrative’, in  The Formation of the Pentateuch: Bridging the Academic Cultures of Europe, Israel, and North America  (ed. J.C. Gertz, B.M. Levinson, D.Rom-Shiloni and K. Schmid; FAT 111; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck), 443–475. Story Telling and Redaction: Varieties and Vagaries of LanguageUsage in the Exodus Narrative F RANK  H. P OLAK In the present study I want to advance two interconnected theses. My firstclaim is that the book of Exodus harbors two distinct linguistic registers thatallow for easy identification and quantification. The first register, mainly foundin the Priestly or the Deuteronomic strata, stands out by a number of featuresthat represent the cross-linguistic, cross-cultural characterization of writtenlanguage. A second register reveals a quite di !  erent character, and is in manyrespects close to spontaneous spoken discourse. Narratives in this style form thebackbone of the narrative in Exodus. My second thesis is that this second layer preserves an underlying oral-epicsubstratum, an overarching platform, that is situated in the tradition stream of the Northwest Semitic epic, narrative poetry and in which the narrative in itspresent, written form is anchored. 1 This platform comprises the narrative of the 1 On the oral-epic platform of patriarchal narrative see my studies, “Oral Substratum,Stylistic-Syntactic Profile and Thematic Flow in the Abraham-Jacob Narrative,” in Contextualizing Israel’s Sacred Writings: Ancient Literacy, Orality, and Literary Production  (ed.Brian Schmidt; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature), 217-238; “Oral Platform and  exodus and the episode of the conclusion of the covenant at Mount Sinai inone overarching framework, the Exodus-Sinai narrative, or in short, the ESN.Anthropological and ethnopoetic fieldwork provides definite and conclusivecounterevidence for G UNKEL ’s thesis regarding the extreme brevity of popular,oral narrative. Fieldwork also indicates that oral narrators and poets, the“Singers of Tales”, are accomplished artists of oral literature, while philologicalanalysis shows that Ugaritic epic texts reveals many features that are to beassociated with oral poetry. 2  Both claims are diametrically opposed to the views that dominate themodern study of the narrative of the exodus and the conclusion of thecovenant at Mount Sinai. According to these views the ESN is to be attributedto the Deuteronomic, post-Deuteronomic, Priestly and post-Priestly authorialand redactional strata. An emerging consensus separates these narratives fromthe tales of the patriarchs, with which they were united by a post-Priestlyredaction stratum. This view has the advantage of positing a rather synchronicview of the book of Exodus, in which the author-redactor combines the task of editor and creative author, whose activity consists, in the words of Jean-LouisS KA , “of collecting, rearranging, re-elaborating, and reshaping older material”. 3 Language Usage in the Abraham Narrative”, in the present volume. 2 K.T. A ITKEN , “Oral Formulaic Composition and Themes in the Aqhat Narrative”,  UF  21(1989), 1-16; and see my study, “Orality and Language Usage” (see n. 1), sections 1.1, 2.3-4,and the references there. 2  This view harbours an important truth, but also fails to do justice to thevariety in language usage and the sharp linguistic distinctions between thediverse strata of the Exodus narrative. Thus the first part of the present studywill establish these stylistic distinctions and the extent of the oral-epic strand.In the second part I will discuss methods of establishing redactorialintervention and ways of reading. The third part will be dedicated to structuralaspects of the ESN. 1. From the Oral to the Written: Stylistic-Syntactic Patterns 1.1. Syntactic-Stylistic AnalysisThe main argument for the idea of an oral background of the Exodus narrativein its present form is based on language usage to be analyzed by means of threemain parameters : 4 1. The number of explicit syntactic constituents (explicit lexicalizedconstituent, ELC) that are dependent immediately on the predicate: subject, 3  J.-L. S KA , “A Plea on Behalf of the Biblical Redactors”,  Studia Theologica  59 (2005), 4-18,here 4. 4 This method (very much a project in progress) is developed in detail in my papers,“Sociolinguistics, a Key to the Typology and the Social Background of Biblical Hebrew” Hebrew Studies  47 (2006), 115-62, here 128-36, 141-51; “The Book of Samuel and theDeuteronomist: A Syntactic-Stylistic Analysis”, in  The Books of Samuel and the Deuteronomists (ed. C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger; BWANT 188; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2010), 34-73, here38-54. 3  direct/indirect object(s), modifiers (in so far as not implicit in prefix, a x orobject/possessive su x), such as: Exod 15:9  ! # $% ) 1( &'()% / *+, -! .% / /( 012 / 3 '4 5 6% ) 1( 7 $7 $8 / )# '% $7 -# 09 ) 1( ( 08 -: ;   3( 0!< ) 1( ( 0= -! 5 / )# '8( 0!)9 ) 1( ( 0>$( This verse includes seven clauses, all of them short: five clauses contain oneexplicit constituent apart from the predicate, whereas two clauses consist of predicate only:  *+, -! .% / /( 012  . I assign clauses of this type to the class of “shortclauses” (0-1 ELC).A second type (long clauses) contain at least two explicit constituents: Exod 2:24a  ? # -80@ A ) 1( B( 0CD E% ) 2( B $F $3 6% ;GF .% v.24b  !+H-I0@ A ) 1( B( 0CD E% ) 2( )F( 0! -=GF .%B $C $! -& %GF .%3 $5 -J0(GF .%&+3 6? (GF .%-A Both clauses contain 2 ELC’s, (1) a subject,  B( 0CD E% , and (2) a direct object, B $F $3 6% ;GF .%  (v. 24a), and )F( 0! -=GF .%B $C $! -& %GF .%3 $5 -J0(GF .%&+3 6? (GF .%-A  (v. 24a).2. Noun groups within a given constituent, such as  ( '>(0AC .8+#  (a constructstate) and  K+! 6C2-A!L5-A  (a junction, both in 17:2). An example for a longergroup :   )F( 0! -=GF .%B $C $! -& %GF .%3 $5 -J0(GF .%&+3 6? (GF .%-A  (above 2:24).3. Subordinate clauses: relative clauses, object, time clauses, infinitive andparticipial clauses, such as: Exod 21:1  C .4 '%-AB( 0M $N -8 0O C - ! .8 6%B( 0P $9B .C('; -:07 Complex hypotaxis is noted when the subordinate clause is embedded in aclause that itself is dependent on the main clause :Exod 35:1 C .4 '%B( 0! $& -, C - C$L 0JG! .8 6%C$AC-( = F+P 6? 7B $F+% This sentence reveals a complex hierarchy: it includes a relative clause,  C$L 0JG! .8 6% 4
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