School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures

Inventory of Structurally Important Literary Features in the Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literatures of Antiquity

A corpus-based list of generically defined literary features occurring in at least one text of the Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, the Apocrypha of the Old Testament, the near-complete large Dead Sea Scrolls, or Rabbinic Literature.

Work in progress, version -355, 25 February 2011. Please cite information from this document as: A. Samely, P. Alexander, R. Bernasconi, R. Hayward, "Inventory of Structurally Important Literary Features in Ancient Jewish Literature (Version -355)" (Manchester:, 2010), plus Inventory Point number.

This Inventory is part of the outcomes of the Project Typology of Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literature of Antiquity (TAPJLA) Manchester-Durham 2007-2012, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK).

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A. Self-Presentation

1. The self-presentation of the text as a verbal entity

Definition of the literary feature Selected texts illustrating the feature
1.1. The text refers to itself as a verbal entity; its boundaries are implied or explicit.
1.1.1. The text refers to itself using a genre term, speech act term, verb or other term implying verbal constitution (with or without using a self-referential discourse deixis, such as "This is"). 4QMMT, Sibyl.Or. 1:1
1.1.2. The text speaks of itself as dealing with an overall theme (subject matter) or purpose, or as consisting of coordinated parts making a whole. See 9.12. 4Mac 1:12
1.1.3. The text presents its subject matter as bounded, by using expressions such as "all", "beginning", "some of", etc. mMid 5:1; Sibyl.Or., 4Mac. 1:12 (Genesis); 4QMMT
1.1.4. The text introduces its governing voice, thereby indirectly marking its own boundedness. See 2.2. The text has a superscription concerning "to whom" it is addressed or for whose use it is meant (e.g. la-maskil). Community Rule (in 4QSB/D version); (cp. Psalm superscriptions)
1.1.5. Important text witnesses attest to a heading which provides information of the kind 1.1.1-4, but which is not integrated with the body of the text or any introductory frame (for sub-headings, see 9.12).
1.2. The text presents its internal sequence of sentences (or larger parts) as mirroring the objective relationships of components in the projected world; or it projects its subject matter as self-limiting (see 5.3). It thereby also implies its own boundedness by subject matter (further under sections 4, 5.2-5 or 6). Sefer Yetsirah, Treatise of Shem
1.3. The text overall is shaped by a poetic or rhetorical-communicative pattern that is self-bounding (see section 3). Prayer of Manasseh, many rabbinic homilies
1.4. The text signals its parts or boundaries only by implicit contrast or some other implicit signal (applies only if 1.1/2 do not apply):
1.4.1. A contrasting theme appears at the beginning or at what (with reader hindsight) turns out to be a boundary or end point in the text. some Mishnah Tractates
1.4.2. A sentence/small unit with a contrasting form from those used in the co-text appears at the beginning or at what turns out to be (with reader hindsight) a boundary or end point in the text. Mishnah Tractates and Gemara Tractates
1.4.3. A lemmatic commentary (see 6) which otherwise exhibits gaps in the coverage of its base text begins and ends by treating the first and last segment of that base text. BerR, Sifra, Sifre Deut (not Mekhilta Ishmael)
1.5. The text presents a certain homogeneousness of form and/or contents, without claiming (1.1) or projecting (1.2) boundedness, and without being unified by a poetic or rhetorical-communicative form (1.3). Mishnah Tractates
1.5.1. There is a limited inventory of small forms (section 8) which recur in a linear juxtaposition of units (5.8).
1.5.2. The ways in which smaller units hang together or follow on from each other (section 9) are repeated frequently (without thereby being predictable at a given point of the text).
1.5.3. The themes treated by the text can be (all or mostly) interpreted as being interrelated objectively within the world as projected by the text, but not according to their textual sequence (e.g. for thematic texts: 5.2.1, 4.3.1, 5.4.1, 5.5.1 are not applicable, but 5.6. or 5.7.1-2 are). Some Mishnah Tractates, Tosefta Tractates
1.6. The approximate size of the text is: [please specify], based on:
1.7. The text's Inventory profile should be seen in the light of the following further information on completeness, thematic progression, aesthetic effects, etc.: [please specify] / Overview of Parts: [please specify if useful]

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