[b-hebrew] Waw Consecutive in Narrative Hebrew Narrative

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Oct 14 12:18:35 EDT 2003

On 14/10/2003 08:32, Ken Penner wrote:

>Whereas the WPC is the most common verb form in narratives, I do not have
>the impression that it is the most common verb form to BEGIN narratives. 
>Try this, to get an impression for yourself:
>In the book of Joshua, look for breaks in the narrative (e.g., by lists)
>where narrative continuity should not be expected and look at the verb form
>immediately following (5:13; 6:1; 7:1; 13:1; 10:15, 16; 13:1; 19:51; 20:1;
>21:43; 23:1). Do you see a pattern? I don't see one strong enough to warrant
>making statements of continuity _on the basis of the verb form alone_.
>Particularly the WYHY seems to occur relatively frequently at the beginning
>of narratives. I would be especially hesitant about assuming continuity when
>a sentence beginning with WYHY includes a specific time reference.
I think the point about the beginning of narratives was more about what 
happens immediately after a speech margin. A shift of genre within a 
continuous work is a rather different matter - and also potentially 
raises questions of sources and compilation.

So what happens at the beginning of a narrative in direct speech? This 
is not all that common, basically when people are giving a report or 
telling a story, and even then only when they launch straight into it. 
This is quite rare, but here are a few cases:

Gen 39:17 - qatal
Gen 40:9 - verbless
Gen 40:16 - X-qatal
Gen 41:17 - verbless
Num 13:27 - qatal
Deu 1:6 - X-qatal
2Sa 12:1 - X-qatal

Can you find examples like this where the direct speech starts with a 
wayyiqtol form? That would be much more significant as support for the 
thesis that wayyiqtol is the default for the beginning of narrative as 
well as its continuation.

>So, how much continuity does the verb form itself imply? That's one part of
>what I am trying to answer in my dissertation. So far in my research on the
>Hebrew of Dead Sea Scrolls, the WPC is NOT the form used generally for past
>time, or for perfective aspect, or for realis modality, or any particular
>combination of time, aspect, and modality. It use is specifically
>conditioned; and I am still trying to figure out what those conditions are.
>Of course, my findings about Qumran Hebrew may or may not be applicable to
>Classical Biblical Hebrew.
Probably not. It is well recognised that the wayyiqtol form was less 
used in later biblical Hebrew and not used at all in Mishnaic Hebrew. 
One would therefore expect its use to be receding still further in this 
intermediate form and have retreated into certain specific contexts.

>Hoping this helps,
>Ken Penner, McMaster/DSS

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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