[b-hebrew] Relevance Theory & Hebrew Semantics

C. Stirling Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 17 14:19:34 EDT 2004

On 8/17/04 12:10 AM, "Reinier de Blois" <r.de.blois at solcon.nl> wrote:

> It is also extremely important how we look at the biblical text. Are we
> looking at it as one cohesive unit or are we trying to peel off one
> layer after another until there is hardly anything left to analyse? If
> it is the latter the cognitive approach will certainly fail.
> If you want the cognitive approach to work, you have to take a text as a
> unit regardless of the question whether it was written by Moses, or
> compiled by several redactors, or written as a unit after the exile.
> Even if you doubt the historicity of certain parts of the text you have
> to assume that the writer wanted to communicate some truth to his/her
> audience. There is no meaning without context and the moment you strip a
> text of its context you have lost your job as a lexicographer. The only
> approach left then is the philological one which is very unreliable.


Thank you for your contribution.

Then you would agree that semantic cohesion is an axiom of the cognitive
approach. Setting aside all questions of historicity as irrelevant, looking
at the text as a finished literary artifact without any concern for how it
arrive in its present form, having cleared away all these needless
distractions, there still seem to be significant risks associated with
accepting semantic cohesion is an axiom.

Open The Cantos of Ezra Pound at random somewhere in the middle and select a
discourse segment.  Recovering the cognitive framework for this discourse
segment my be made *more* difficult if you assume semantic cohesion within
the discourse segment as an axiom.

In the OT wisdom literature we run into similar problems. The book of
Ecclesiastes includes discourse units which seem to defy the notion of
semantic cohesion. 

In evaluating the validity of any theoretical framework the first step is to
expose weaknesses in the presuppositions. The axiom of semantic cohesion
looks like a weakness in RT.

Clay Bartholomew 

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