On-line version ISSN 1609-9982
Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.31 n.1 Pretoria 2010
Department of Humanities, Institute for Protestant Theology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
This paper proposes a reading of the Book of the Twelve (used interchangeably with 'Twelve' and 'Book' for convenience) that concentrates on the sound that is included in the description of the world of the text. Three onomatopoeic devices are singled out. First, the mourning cry hôy is considered. This interjection is used differently in several of the writings: in Amos (5:18; 6:1) the prophet cries out in compassion with the addressees. By contrast, in Nahum 3:1 and Habakkuk 2:6-19, hôy is uttered in a mood of mockery. In Zechariah 2:10 a third, joyful hôy is used. It appears that the different usages cohere nicely with the overall structure of the Book of the Twelve. Secondly, the interjection has likewise shows different usages. In Amos 6:10 and 8:3, it simulates the last breath of Israelites dying when the land is devastated. By contrast, in Habakkuk 2:20, Zephaniah 1:7 and Zechariah 2:17, the addressees are directed to be silent before YHWH. This command should be perceived as an act of reverence. Again, the sequence of the occurrences coheres with the overall structure of the Book of the Twelve. Of special relevance is that the last three instances build a frame around the Babylonian exile, which lies between Zephaniah and Haggai. The third example is the phrase hamônîm, hamônîm in Joel 4:14. The author employs an irregular double plural to construe this place as the loudest spot ('apocalyptic noise') within the Twelve.
Keywords: Book of the Twelve; mourning rite; onomatopoeic words; silence; soundscape
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I would like to thank James Nogalski for correcting my English and giving some useful hints.
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University of Duisburg-Essen
Department of Humanities
Institute for Protestant Theology
Received: 01 Apr. 2010
Accepted: 18 May 2010
Published: 13 July 2010
Note: This paper is an expanded version of my presentation at the SBL Meeting, 24th November 2008 in Boston. Most of its content stems from my longer German article, 'Totenstille und Endknall' (2009).