Parallel Word Pairs In The Song Of Deborah (Judges 5) -- By: Peter C. Craigie

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 20:1 (Winter 1977)
Article: Parallel Word Pairs In The Song Of Deborah (Judges 5)
Author: Peter C. Craigie


Parallel Word Pairs In The Song Of Deborah
(Judges 5)

Peter C. Craigie*

In order to express thought parallelism in poetry, parallel word pairs or parallel terms1 must be employed. Biblical Hebrew poetry, in which thought parallelism is a dominant characteristic, employs a large number of parallel word pairs. In Ugaritic poetry, too, the use of thought parallelism involves the use of parallel word pairs. Early in the 1930s, soon after the first translations of the Ugaritic poetic texts, scholars began to notice similarities between the parallel word pairs of Ugaritic and Hebrew poetry. The similarities were not only of a semantic nature but included the use of linguistically cognate terms. From these observations a number of hypotheses were developed concerning the interrelationship of Ugaritic and Hebrew poetry, and, specifically, arguments were made for the dependence of Hebrew poets on their Ugaritic/Canaanite predecessors. The most prolific contemporary scholar working in this field is M. Dahood, whose aim is to recover from the Ugaritic and Hebrew poetic texts “the Canaanite thesaurus from whose resources Ugaritic and Hebrew poets alike drew.”2

There have been a number of scholars who (although open in general to the influence of Ugaritic-Canaanite literature upon Hebrew literature) have argued against the hypotheses of Dahood and others, both with respect to theoretical formulation and with respect to details.3 The present paper is offered as a further critique of the hypothesis, particularly as it is given expression in the writings of Dahood. While Dahood has made a magnificent contribution to the subject, constant critical evaluation is required to assess the gains and progress that are being made.

This study has been limited to the Song of Deborah (Judges 5) for a number of reasons. First, the antiquity of the Hebrew passage makes it a good text for the evaluation of the relationship between Hebrew and Ugaritic poetry. Second, the Song of Deborah has a northern locale and

*Peter Craigie is associate professor of religious studies at the University of Calgary, Alberta.

a Canaanite topic as its main theme (the war with the Canaanites), which further contribute to the positive aspects of a comparative evaluation. Third, at a number of places in the Song, affinities with Ugaritic/Canaanite poetry might be suggested.4 Thus the possibility of an interrelationship of some kind between the Song and Ugarit...

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