[b-hebrew] Waw Consecutive in Narrative Hebrew Narrative

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Sun Oct 12 17:33:36 EDT 2003

On Sunday 12 October 2003 13:55, Trevor Peterson wrote:
> Paul wrote:
> > It is notable that, in the vast majority (may I say, all the
> > unambiguous) narrative passages, the initial verb form is
> > something other than a waw-consecutive, a form that either
> > sets the time or marks a break in the narrative stream, and
> > then the sequence of events is carried forward using this
> > form.  So your first instructor is noting that finding a
> > waw-consecutive here is unusual.
> I would agree. I'm not sure that your profs' arguments are quite this
> sophisticated. (I'm not trying to question their competence--I don't
> know anything about them except what's been reported here. My point is
> that a lot of theology, Bible, and Hebrew profs have yet to do much with
> discourse analysis.) It seems to me that the first was taking a somewhat
> simplistic view of the vayyiqtol form. It actually borders on the old
> vav-conversive idea, that you basically start with a perfect and then
> follow it with converted imperfects to show sequence in narrative.
> Calling it the default form, on the other hand, acknowledges a valid
> point--in a narrative context, this basically is the default form. But
> on the macrosyntactic level, a vayyiqtol form, by virtue of its being
> the default, cannot signal the start of a narrative block. Consider the
> following example in English:

But isn't this essentially saying the same thing as the first prof?  If I 
understand correctly, both you and s/he are saying that the wayyiqtol MUST be 
a "continuation" form and can't begin a "narrative block."  There are profuse 
counter-examples of this in the HB, many of them detailed by F. I. Andersen 
in his book "The Sentence in Biblical Hebrew."  He notes a distinct usage of 
the wayyiqtol (which he calls WP) that he calls "beginning a new thought," 
which is essentially the same thing as Trevor's "narrative block."  I have 
noted several similar examples in the Josiah story in my Trinity Journal 
article (for reference, see my web site).

At the same time, I'm not sure what the second prof means by "default" tense.  
I consider the wayyiqtol to be the past-tense simple declarative: "X did Y." 

I was walking down the street.  I saw the weirdest thing...

The two clauses are connected in a semantic-pragmatic way, but there is no 
*explicit* syntactic link.  As such, the wayyiqtol is the natural choice for 
narrative prose.  But perhaps we need a definition of the second prof's term 

Dave Washburn
"God does a lot of things in the Psalms
that He can't get away with in systematic theology."

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