SIL International Publications

Understanding Biblical Hebrew Verb Forms: Distribution and Function across Genres

Longacre, Robert E. and Andrew C. Bowling

This work is the first thorough study of tense, aspect, and modality (TAM) in light of the discourse functions of biblical Hebrew. Commonly used grammars of biblical Hebrew treat each verb tense or aspect form with little attention to their different functions in different discourse genres in which they occur. Building on classical and recent studies of Hebrew grammar, this volume presents more than 375 examples from 28 Old Testament books that demonstrate correlations between discourse genre and verb function. These show that every Hebrew verb tense or aspect has a natural home in certain types of discourse, and when that form is used elsewhere than its natural context, it marks some special point.

This book helps Bible translators and newcomers to Hebrew studies toward a well-grounded understanding of the functions of verb forms, while challenging advanced specialists to reassess and refine their understanding of biblical Hebrew texts.

About the Authors

Robert Longacre (Ph.D., Pennsylvania, 1955) has pioneered discourse research in modern languages and in biblical languages. His more than 150 publications include The Grammar of Discourse, Joseph: A Story of Divine Providence, Holistic Discourse Analysis (SIL), and discourse-theoretic analyses of the Genesis flood narrative and other texts in the Pentateuch and poetic books.

Andrew C. Bowling (Ph.D., Brandeis, 1962) has taught in Lebanon and the USA, including 30 years at John Brown University and teaching Hebrew for 20 years. His publications include commentaries on four Old Testament books and papers on discourse analysis of Old Testament texts.

Table of Contents: 

0.1 Rationale
0.2 Illustrations of complementarity of discourse type and verb type
0.3 Other formal

  1. Biblical Hebrew Verb Forms in Reported Speech
  2. 1.1 Purpose of this chapter
    1.2 The semantic ranges of the individual morphologies
    1.3 Summary

  3. Narrative Discourse
  4. 2.1 Structure and methodology of chapter 2
    2.2 Analysis of Hebrew narrative: Ruth, chapters 1 and 2
    2.3 More mainline/off-line usages in wyyqtl Hebrew narrative
    2.4 Reports: wyyqtl genealogy and royal records
    2.5 Qtl Narrative and old poetic narrative

  5. The “P” Complex of Discourse Types: Predictive, Procedural, and Instructional
  6. 3.1 Predictive discourse
    3.2 Procedural discourse
    3.3 Instructional discourse
    3.4 Summary

  7. Hortatory Discourse and Prayer
  8. 4.1 The nature of hortatory discourse
    4.2 Hortatory Discourses embedded in the Joseph story (Genesis 39–45)
    4.3 Hortatory discourses in Deuteronomy
    4.4 Hortatory discourses in Proverbs
    4.5 Hortatory discourses in the Prophets
    4.6 Exhortation and prayer in the Psalms
    4.7 Summary of findings

  9. Expository Discourse
  10. 5.1 Characteristics of expository discourse
    5.2 Examples of expository discourse
    5.3 Summary

  11. The Qinah
  12. 6.1 Characterization of the qinah
    6.2 Representative samples of the qinah
    6.3 Summary of findings

  13. The Riyb
  14. 7.1 The types of riyb in the Old Testament
    7.2 God’s indictment of his people
    7.3 The riyb as men’s complaints against God
    7.4 A self-riyb, i.e., a confession
    7.5 Positive (i.e., “reverse”) riybs
    7.6 Summary of findings

  15. Lyric Overlay in Biblical Hebrew
  16. 8.1 The purpose of this chapter
    8.2 L ^ E: exposition with a lyric overlay
    8.3 Lyric featuring more general topics
    8.4 Summary of results

  17. Conclusions
  18. 9.1 The wyyqtl
    9.2 The wqtl
    9.3 The qtl form
    9.4 The yqtl form
    9.5 The verbless clause
    9.6 The participial clause
    9.7 The imperative, jussive, and cohortative
    9.8 Reaffirmation of complementation

Author Index
Scripture Index

Issue Date: 
xii, 642 pages
ISBN 13: 
SIL Subject: 
verb tense
Hebrew verbs
Hebrew grammar
discourse analysis
Biblical Hebrew
7 × 10 × 1.3 in
2.5 lb
Subject Languages: