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Book Reviews 153 The Representation ofSpeech in Biblical Hebrew Narrative: A Linguistic Analysis, by Cynthia Miller. Harvard Semitic Museum Monographs 55. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996. 466 pp. $44.95. While the field ofbiblical studies boasts many philologists, there are few linguistically trained biblicists or hebraists. Cynthia Miller is one of these few, and she is proving herself to be among the best of her generation. She has given us a book in which she combines her double-disciplinary knowledge to good advantage. Since linguistic analysis rarely makes easy reading, and this volume is no exception, I will attempt to simplify, at the risk of oversimplifying, Miller's accomplishment. Scholars ofbiblical narrative have noted the importance ofdialogue and other types of speech, and there have been some excellent studies of some aspects of speech in narrative. Miller has provided the most thorough linguistic analysis ofspeech in biblical narrative to date. Calling on grammar and pragmatics, she analyzes the syntax of a particular utterance, the context of that utterance in the conversation, and the broader context of the conversation in the narrative in which it is embedded. After surveying previous literature and presenting the central defmitions with which she will work, Miller analyzes the varieties of indirect speech. These varieties range from the possible recovery of the original locution (reported in indirect speech) to a general sense ofthe gist ofthe speech, to the mere report that speech occurred. The next chapter examines the varieties of direct speech, including the syntactic features of direct quotative frames. Chapter 5 discusses ways in which the forms of direct speech function in conversation and narrative. Chapter 6 deals with discourse-pragmatic functions of the three types ofdirect quotative frames (whether the use of a word other than .,Y.:lN? to introduce speech has significance). Miller uses extensive examples from throughout the Bible, and in the course ofher analysis she helps us realize that the representation ofspeech in narrative is much more complex than we thought. She has categorized many of these complexities according to linguistic models, in grammatical categories. She does not do a form-critical analysis; that is, she does not divide up types ofspeech according to social function (although she does mention royal speech). Future studies might investigate whether certain types of speech correlate with certain linguistic patterns of representation, for example, prose prayer (see M. Greenberg, Biblical Prose Prayer [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983]). Instead ofpresenting a selection of Miller's examples and her analysis of them, it would seem more useful for me to present a single passage-and it happens to be one that Miller does not discuss-that contains a number of complex representations of speech in narrative. The passage is Esther 3:2-4. 154 SHOFAR Summer 1999 Vol. 17,No.4 And all the king's servants at the king's gate were bowing and prostrating themselves to Haman for thus ordered the king concerning him, but Mordecai would not bow and would not prostrate himself. The king's servants at the king's gate said to Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the order of the king?" And when they spoke to him day after day and he did not heed them, they told Haman, to see ifMordecai's words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. Miller's study has shown me just how complex the representation of speech in this passage is. Note, fIrst, that we do not have the actual words of the royal order to bow to Haman, only the fact that there was such an order. The wording of the order is not important; it is the existence ofthe order that the story wants to convey. When Mordecai refuses to bow, he is transgressing a royal order. Direct speech appears in the servants' question to Mordecai, for the precise phrasing oftheir speech has an impact on the narrative. They do not say, "Why do you not bow before Haman?" but rather "Why do you disobey the order of the King?" Their question emphasizes that the issue is obedience to the royal command. Moreover, their question is not a request for information, but an attempt to get Mordecai...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 153-154
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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