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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Abstract

AMZALLAG, Nissim  and  AVRIEL, Mikhal. Complex antiphony in Psalms 121, 126 and 128: The steady responsa hypothesis. Old testam. essays [online]. 2010, vol.23, n.3, pp.502-518. ISSN 2312-3621.

Psalms 121, 126 and 128 are three songs of Ascents displaying the same structural characteristics: (i) they include two distinct parts, each one with its own theme; (ii) the two parts have the same number of verse lines;, (iii) many grammatical and semantic similarities are found between the homolog verse lines from the two parts; (iv) a literary breakdown exists between the last verse of the first part and the first verse of the second part. These features remain unexplained as long as these poems are approached in a linear fashion. Here we test the hypothesis that these songs were performed antiphonally by two choirs, each one singing another part of the poem. This mode of complex antiphony is defined here as steady responsa. In the three songs analyzed here, the "composite text" issued from such a pairing of distant verses displays a high level of coherency, new literary properties, images and metaphors, echo patterns typical to antiphony and even "composite meanings" ignored by the linear reading. We conclude that these three psalms were originally conceived to be performed as steady responsa.

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