Major Poems of the Hebrew Bible: The remaining 65 Psalms
Volume III: The Remaining 65 Psalms
Each of the 85 Psalms (83 poems) discussed in the previous volume of Major Poems of the Hebrew Bible has the highly remarkable feature of scoring an exact integer as the average number of syllables per colon; sometimes seven or nine, more often eight, which may be called the central normative figure of Biblical poetry.
This can only mean that the classical poets did count their syllables. Moreover, they succeeded in bringing about a creative merger between various forms of numerical perfection and the structure of their songs, which is generally underpinned by the correct articulation in strophes and stanzas.
The breakthrough of this discovery became possible on the basis of (a) a refined recipe for establishing the original (i.e. pre-Masoretic) syllable structure of the ancient Hebrew, and (b) a definition of the colon.
In those poems in which the correct colometry is difficult to delimit, it can be established only by a three-pronged approach tackling syntax, prosody and semantics and able to combine them.
In this third volume, the 65 remaining Psalms are subject of structural analysis, and once more are covered by full syllable counts. Although these songs do not seek to apply the exact integers, they display the other forms of numerical perfection on more than one textual level, so that they embody the same poetics. This will be no different in volume IV, which deals with Job 15-42 and will be published as the final volume in the Major Poems of the Hebrew Bible project.
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