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 2007-2011, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK).

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F. Small forms and coherence relations

8. Characteristic small forms on the level of the governing voice

Explanation of terminology in this section

For indicating approximate frequency, the following four terms are used: once (if significant); occasional; frequent; pervasive.

Definition of the literary feature Selected texts illustrating the feature
8.1. Standard forms or contents formulated in set phrases, set sentence formats, or clauses in a standard syntactic connection (such as e.g. 8.1.4, 8.1.11):  
8.1.1. Conditional norm or hypothetical legal case. Mishnah/Tosefta Tractates, Talmuds
8.1.2. Unconditional norm. Mishnah/Tosefta, Talmuds
8.1.3. Sentence with theme anticipated to the beginning and repeated in a pronoun or by ellipsis (e.g. Regarding X, it...). 4QMMT, Sefer Yetsirah, Mishnah Tractates, Tosefta Tractates, Talmuds
8.1.4. Unit of a biblical quotation together with a hermeneutically dependent formulation, regardless in which sequence; midrashic unit. Jubilees, Damascus Document, 1QpHab, Aristeas, 1Bar, 4Ezra, Tosefta/Mishnah, Midrash The expressive use of unmarked biblical wording whose function in the text's discourse is enhanced or achieved by it being recognized as coming from Scripture. Sirach, Wisdom, Sefer Yetsirah, 1QS, Psalms of Solomon, 4Mac, LAB, Mishnah,etc.
8.1.5. Simile used in hermeneutic function. LamR, BerR, Bavli
8.1.6. Speech report. [83 texts as of 14/10/2010] The reported speech is elliptic and depends on surrounding text not marked as reported speech. BerR, some Mishnah/Tosefta Tractates, some Bavli/Yerushalmi Tractates
8.1.7. Sentence referring to a behaviour or norm as customary, using the term minhag, its verbal root or a clearly similar term. Some Mishnah, Tosefta and Bavli Tractates
8.1.8. Reason clause. Mishnah/Tosefta Tractates, Sifre, Sifra
8.1.9. The a fortiori argument. Tosefta Tractates, a few Mishnah Tractates, BerR, Bavli Tractates, Jubilees, LAB
8.1.10. List sentence enumerating items by words or phrases. 1En, LAB, GenApoc, Jubilees, 4Mac, Sirach, Aristeas, Wisdom, many works of rabbinic literature
8.1.11. List enumerating items by whole sentences or whole units of interpretation. Tobit, works of rabbinic literature
8.1.12. Explicit claim that in a particular formulation other information in the immediate co-text is being summarized or generalized (e.g. zeh ha-kelal). Sirach, rabbinic works (more in Mishnah/Tosefta than in Bavli/Yerushalmi)
8.1.13. Declamatory sentence, confession, proclamation or affirmation. 1Bar, Wisdom, 4Mac, Psalms of Solomon, 17:1/17:46, Sifre Deut
8.1.14. Prayer, doxology, valediction or blessing. GenApoc, 4Mac, Sirach, Wisdom, mTaan 4:8, mTam 7:3, mSot 9:15
8.1.15. Wish sentence.  
8.1.16. Descriptive sentence of a static (ocular) structure or "scientific" descriptive sentence. Sirach, LAB, 4Ezra, Targum Esther Sheni, yBer, bKet, Sefer Yetsirah, mMiddot, Visions of Ezekiel
8.1.17. Report sentence of a singular event in the past which is not part of a narrative unit, nor of a mashal. Sirach, some Mishnah/Tosefta Tractates, some Midrashic texts, bGit
8.1.18. Sentence making a prediction of a future event. Tobit , GenApoc, 1QpHab, LAB, mEd, tEd, QohR, bHag
8.1.19. Prediction of reward or punishment of behaviour in a "wisdom" or similar formulation. Sirach, GenApoc, 1Bar, 4Mac, Wisdom, LAB, mPeah, mQid, tBB, tPeah, tQid, Mekhilta Ishmael, BerR, bHag, bHor, bNaz, QohR, Targum Esther Sheni
8.1.20. Recommendation of a particular behaviour or statement of an ideal type of person in a "wisdom" or similar formulation. 1Bar, 4Mac, Aristeas, bBB and others, BerR, GenApoc, Mekhilta Ishmael, LAB, Sifra, Sifre Deut, Sirach, Tobit, tPeah, tQid, Wisdom
8.1.21. Statement describing a reality (nature, creation, human nature) in a "wisdom" or similar formulation. 1Bar, 4Mac, bBB and others, BerR, EsthR, LAB, QohR, Sirach, Wisdom
8.1.22. Statement praising Torah in a "wisdom" or similar formulation. 1Bar, 4Mac, BerR, bSot, Mekhilta Ishmael, mQid, Sifra, Sifre Deut, Sirach, tQid
8.2. Non-narrative small literary forms that impose on their components a standard functional relationship to each other, while grammar and syntax may vary.  
8.2.1. Dispute unit. 4Mac, most works of rabbinic literature
8.2.2. Self-contained question-answer unit in anonymous discourse. The question does not concern the meaning of an earlier word or words in the same text. 4Ezra, many works of rabbinic literature
8.2.3. Self-contained question-answer unit in discourse concerning the meaning of an earlier word/words in the same text. Self-contained question-answer unit which, since there is tacit overlap with a partner text (7.2), may relate to the meaning of a statement found in a partner text. This applies only if the statement does not appear, outside the question itself, in the text under consideration. tNaz 4:4 and mNaz 6:4, and many other Tosefta Tractates in relation to Mishnah
8.2.4. A clause or phrase which links two statements/themes explicitly as being similar. some works of rabbinic literature
8.2.5. The summary exposition, in a number of sentences, of theological ideas. Judith 9:5-6, 9:11-12, Sirach, 4Mac, 4Ezra, Wisdom, Epistola Anne, Sifre Deut, Targum Esther Sheni
8.2.6. A Petichah or Petichah-like unit, which uses the wording of a general biblical verse to introduce by way of a hermeneutic link the main theme/event of another verse, usually quoted at the end of the unit. BerR, QohR, EsthR, LevR
8.2.7. A Semikhah or Semikhah-like unit, addressing how the co-text preceding a given biblical verse relates to that verse. BerR, LevR
8.2.8. An "Inyan" part in a rabbinic homily, understood as a limited lemmatic sequence of midrashic units on one or more verses introduced by a preceding Petichah or Petichah-like unit. LevR
8.2.9. A Chatimah or Chatimah-like unit, which leads from a biblical verse earlier treated as part of the "Inyan" (if found in a rabbinic homily) to another verse expressing hope or consolation, usually quoted at the end of the unit. LevR (BerR)
8.2.10. A Yelammedenu unit, an initially halakhic question-answer unit usually expanded by further discussion, using the terminology of yelammedenu rabbeynu, which opens a rabbinic homily or a literary structure similar to a rabbinic homily. TanB Wayyera'
8.3. Forms with internal emplotment relationships, or character-centred small literary forms or motifs:  
8.3.1. A ma'aseh or other pared-down narrative of a unique event with normative-probative function. Mishnah and Tosefta Tractates, other works of rabbinic literature
8.3.2. A mashal or other minimal (two-stage) narrative employed to model the emplotment of a biblical or other event, usually in explicitly hermeneutic function. Works of rabbinic literature
8.3.3. A narrative unit not integrated into a co-text that constitutes a larger chronological framework. LamR, on rabbis
8.3.4. A narrative unit which is schematic or presents unspecific characters (other than 8.3.2). LamR
8.3.5. A narrative unit incorporating direct speech/dialogue devoted to an explicit hermeneutic engagement with quotations from the base text or some other text. BerR, LamR
8.3.6. The narrative motif of humanized animals or animals as agents. Tobit, BerR, bGit, Targum Esther Sheni
8.3.7. The narrative motif of the fantastic, grotesque, or gross. Tobit, TJob, bBB
8.3.8. A narrative motif that can be interpreted as humorous or ironic. Tobit
8.3.9. Use of a gap of knowledge between what a character knows and what the governing voice has already told, including one character telling a lie to another, which is transparent to the reader. Tobit, QohR 1:27
8.3.10. Narrative use of humour by way of a character's speech. Judith 10:19
8.4 Small poetic form:  
8.4.1. Occurrence of a song, poetic piece, rhythmic unit.  

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