The Forms and Functions of Disjunctive Parallelism in the Psalter, with Special Reference to Psalm 132

Ernst Wendland


“Disjunctive parallelism,” in contrast to line-adjacent “conjunctive parallelism,” refers to a perceived parallel line (the “B” colon) that occurs within a text at some point removed from its corresponding “A” line. This stylistic device functions to delineate structural units (strophes, stanzas) of different size within a poetic text and frequently also serves to highlight a certain important motif or theme. Four different types of disjunctive parallelism based on verbal recursion are described and illustrated in part one of this study: Enclosure, Juncture, Aperture, and Closure. Various kinds of supporting feature are also listed—poetic elements that help to confirm the internal compositional boundaries that have been posited. In part two of this paper, the methodology of textual demarcation is applied in a structural analysis of Psalm 132, which, in addition to its normal linear development, is shown to have a doubly terraced discourse arrangement that focuses upon Yahweh’s promise to David of an ongoing line of royal descendants in his “dwelling place” of “Zion.” In conclusion, the relevance of this study for evaluating the poetic organization of different Bible translations is pointed out.

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