Vocabulary Terms

haggadah (sometimes ‘aggadah): “Narration” specifically referring to a father narrating the story of the Exodus during Passover, but it expanded to refer to all biblical “lore.” “Midrash haggadah is then the interpretation of a biblical story, which may in practice consist of an amplification of that story” (DBTEL).

halakah: “The legal portion of talmudic and later Jewish literature (Heb. halak, ‘to follow’), as distinct from Haggadah (the narrative literature and its midrash” (DBTEL).

Torah: Literally means “teaching” and refers to the first five books of the Old Testament.

Talmud: Written down in the Mishnah and Gemara, the Talmud consists of the oral Torah, which are the interpretations and teachings derived from the written Torah.

midrash: “Exegesis or interpretation either of the Mishnah [written version of the oral Torah] or of Scripture, usually heuristic in motive” (DBTEL).

dabar: Hebrew for word, thing, cause.

ruwach: Hebrew for breath, spirit, wind.

Four levels of medieval interpretation: Literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical. Have examples.

parataxis: Syntax where coordinating conjunctions predominate.

hypotaxis: Syntax where subordinating conjunctions predominate.

etiological: The study of causes or origins.

chiasmus: Inverted parallelism.

type-scene: A standard generic feature such that the audience expects the author to include a particular set of motifs in narrating the scene, and the author can then play off of these expectations to create meaning. Have examples.

leitwort: “A word or word-root that recurs significantly in a text” (Buber).

epideictic: Rhetoric of praise or blame.

Types of parallelism:

  • complementarity: Paired terms, i.e. earth and heaven.
  • intensification: Heightening movement from the first to the second, i.e. he heard my voice, he heard my cry
  • specification: A movement of particularity or concretization, i.e. how long will you forget me/how long will you hide your face from me?
  • consequentiality: A movement of causality, i.e. you lengthened my stride beneath me, / and my ankles did not trip

anaphora: The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.

ellipses: In poetic parallelism, this describes a line where a verb in the first verset applies also to the second, i.e. “The Lord requited me by my merit, / by the cleanness of my hands before His eyes.”

hendiadys: An emphatic figure that pairs two terms, i.e. “hip and thigh” in passages like Judges 15:8.

envelope structure: Framing a poem or narrative block by repeating the same phrase or image at the beginning and end.

pericope: “cutting out,” a stand alone narrative block in a larger text.

kairos: the right time or hour, understood in a seasonal sense.

kronos: chronological or sequential time.