[b-hebrew] Presentational? Melchizedek Gen 14:18

C. Stirling Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 22 16:47:56 EDT 2004

*Heimerdinger:1999 (p147) argues that NP + qatal is a presentational
construction and cites Gen 14:18 as an example.

Gen. 14:18 wmlky-cdq mlK $lM hwcy) lxM wyyN whw) khN l)l (lywN
Gen. 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was
priest of God Most High.

I can see how the second clause is presentational:

 whw) khN l)l (lywN
 he was priest of God Most High

But in the first clause Melchizedek is an agent who performs an act. He
brings out bread and wine. Taken by itself, this sounds like a topic comment
construct. Assuming that Melchizedek is referentially accessible from the
cognitive framework of the original intended audience, then it could serve
as the topic and the presentation of the bread and wine as the focus.

The second clause calls this analysis into question. The second clause
identifies Melchizedek as "priest of God Most High" which makes it unlikely
that the author assumed  Melchizedek was referentially accessible.

Heimerdinger argues that the entire first clause is the focus, not just the
predicate and that the function of the clause is to present Melchizedek not
to tell us what he did with the bread and wine. This sounds plausible

Clay Bartholomew 
*Heimerdinger, Jean-Marc. Topic, focus and foreground in ancient Hebrew
narratives, Sheffield Academic Press, c1999.

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