Diachronic Poetology of the Hebrew Bible and Related Ancient Near Eastern / Early Jewish Literature


The Research Unit focuses on historical developments in the use of poetic figures during the creation, editing, and transmission of the Hebrew Bible. The stylistic figures used by the authors of ancient Hebrew poetry did not remain unaltered during the long history of the Hebrew Bible, but were modified and changed in the course of time, and new poetic figures and approaches emerged. The large number of diverse poetic forms in the transmitted texts of the Hebrew Bible is, at least in part, due to a complex development of language, form, and style. In order to deepen the diachronic perspective and to open comparatistic horizons, the research group also investigates related poetic literature of the Ancient Near East and Early Judaism, particularly from Ugarit and the Dead Sea scrolls.

By analyzing the poetry of the Hebrew Bible and of related ancient Near Eastern and ancient Jewish literature in a diachronic perspective, the research group breaks fresh ground by bringing together two strings of research that seldom intersected in the last decades: the poetological study of ancient Hebrew biblical and related texts, on the one hand, and the literary and redaction critical perspective on the formation of the Hebrew Bible, which in recent research has been applied extensively to its poetical books (particularly Psalms and Job), on the other. What difference does it make for understanding the poetry of the Hebrew Bible to investigate the stylistic and poetic features of the Hebrew texts diachronically? How did poetical features change in the course of time? Can poetological observations be used for discerning editorial processes and reconstructing redaction layers in biblical poetry? How can we describe the impact of historical change of form and genre on the function of a text? Which role does the difference in genre play in diachronic poetology? What evidence exactly holds as empirical and solid if we try to map the dynamics of poetic and stylistic figures? What kind of methodological conclusions need to be drawn from these discussions?


North-west Semitic Poetry, Poetology, Form Criticism, Rhetorical Criticism, Hebrew Syntax, Historical Linguistics, Literary History, Redaction Criticism

Current Term:



Reinhard Müller
University of Münster 

Urmas Nõmmik
University of Tartu

Member Area

Sofia 2024

This unit is not meeting in 2024