Search for Words Repeated Three Times - "emphatic Semitic triplet"

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David J. Sugg | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jul 15 2011 1:47 PM

I am doing research on William D. Barrick's idea of "emphatic Semitic triplet" - where the Hebrew text repeats the same word three times for emphasis. Barrick cites three possible examples:

Isaiah 6:3 "And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

Ezekial 21:27 "A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it. This also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him."

Jeremiah 22:29 "O land, land, landhear the word of the LORD!" Can anyone suggest a way to search the Old Testament for any other three-fold repetitions? Also, is anyone familiar with other scholars who have discussed this concept? Thanks in advance for any suggestions or references. Dave

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 1:55 PM

What is so Semitic about it?

Posts 59
David J. Sugg | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 2:04 PM

I am using Barrick's terminology. He is a Professor of Old Testament at The Master's Seminary. As far as I have been able to find out, he is the only one to use this phrase - and he only cites these three examples, which seems a small data set to establish a concept. Since he is an OT Prof, I am assuming he is claiming this only for Hebrew, or other Semitic languages - something I also am questioning.

The only NT example is Revelation 4:8 - "And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

Right now I am trying to find other examples, hence the request for search help.

Dave

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 2:15 PM

David J. Sugg:

I am using Barrick's terminology. He is a Professor of Old Testament at The Master's Seminary. As far as I have been able to find out, he is the only one to use this phrase - and he only cites these three examples, which seems a small data set to establish a concept. Since he is an OT Prof, I am assuming he is claiming this only for Hebrew, or other Semitic languages - something I also am questioning.

The only NT example is Revelation 4:8 - "And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

Right now I am trying to find other examples, hence the request for search help.

Dave

That is of course a quotation from Isaiah 6:3. I would search TLG and other linguistic corpora. I have a feeling this is a universal rhetorical device.

As for searching the OT. I can give you my results but I first want to know if this can be achieved in Logos (my results come from somewhere else)

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 2:30 PM

David J. Sugg:
The only NT example is Revelation 4:8 - "And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

And Revelation 8:13

Posts 124
GeoPappas | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 3:20 PM

David Knoll:
What is so Semitic about it?

Here is my understanding:

In English (and other languages), there are different words to describe the intensity of something.  For example, red, redder, reddest.  Or sad, sadder, saddest.  Or holy, holier, holiest.

But in Hebrew, there aren't different words to describe the intensity, thus they would use a word multiple times to describe the intensity.  Thus "holy, holy, holy" would be equivalent to "holiest" in English and would describe something that is the most "holy".

Hope that helps.

Blessings.

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 3:43 PM

GeoPappas:
But in Hebrew, there aren't different words to describe the intensity

Actually we can express it in several ways:

בית גדול A big house

גדול הבתים The biggest house

עיר קרובה A close city

העיר הקרובה The closest city

sadder and the like can be constructed with מן

If that was the only way to express elatives and superlatives I trust this construction would have been much more prevalent.

It does express intensity or poetic exclamation. I am not sure you cannot find that in other poetic corpora in different languages.

 

Posts 912
David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 4:08 PM

Please have a look at this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epizeuxis

It seems I was right it is a universal poetic device called epizeuxis. They have several examples there. I have already collected some more. It seems the Semitic theory has just been proved to be a fallacy.

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 4:25 PM

David J. Sugg:
Right now I am trying to find other examples, hence the request for search help.

Syntax Search is best for this type of query.

Instead of Terminal Node you could use Word and Agree on Text. Using Agreement is liable to crash L4 but the OT query can avoid this:

These only confirm the results provided  - 3 in OT + 2 in NT.

Dave
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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 4:29 PM

Dave Hooton:
These only confirm the results provided  - 3 in OT + 2 in NT.

That result is correct.

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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 4:40 PM

Dave Hooton:

but the OT query can avoid this:

I get 225 results for this query.

 

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 15 2011 8:21 PM

David Knoll:
I get 225 results for this query.

Let me see a screen shot of your query.

Dave
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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 12:42 AM

Here it is.

 

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 4:15 AM

Ensure that Matching Skips levels is not ticked - this produces a solid connecting line.

 

Dave
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David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 4:32 AM

Perfect!

Posts 59
David J. Sugg | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 7:56 AM

Thank you both so much! I am just getting my toes wet in doing syntax searches, and never would have thought of this as as way of doing the search. it amazes me the power we have in this tool.

Thanks as well David Knoll for the link on epizeuxis. That confirms my suspicions that this was not something unique to Semitic languages.

I wonder how many other threads have 15 posts, with all the contributors having the same first name? Dave's rule!

Thanks again for your help.

Dave Sugg

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Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 8:10 AM

Sorry Daves for messing up the name harmony, but this is the first time I've used this feature in Logos.  I was curious to see if the Jeremiah verse was showing up as we just read over this verse in SS two weeks ago.  AND IT IS!

very cool feature (except that all the options are extremely overwhelming!)

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 8:15 AM

David J. Sugg:
Thanks as well David Knoll for the link on epizeuxis. That confirms my suspicions that this was not something unique to Semitic languages.

The modern usage given in those examples does not conform exactly what is being suggested in the OT. Even if it was, it's a non sequitur to suggest that in itself proves it wasn't distinctively semitic in ancient times. (I have no idea whether it is or not. I'm merely saying we don't have enough evidence in this thread to come to a conclusion.)

<edit>The question really is whether the three-fold repitition is 'merely' to provide significant emphasis (which seems the view of most commentators), or whether (as Hamilton puts it, "It is the strongest form of the superlative in Hebrew. Its use here indicates that Israel’s God is the most “godly” of all the gods."</edit>

 

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Paul N | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 8:27 AM

I would add that the result from Jeremiah 22 is actually in context a verbal chant those from Judah would use to possibly try and call God to do their biddings.  It was the result of too many years without being in intimate relationship with God.  I guess it doesn't conform with emphasis either, but the tool was still great in finding it!

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 16 2011 8:34 AM

Genesius is helpful, perhaps: "The intensification of attributes by means of repetition belongs rather to rhetoric than to syntax".

Surprisingly, I also found a reference in BDF: they suggest it's not a Greek rhetorical device.

The NIDOTTE says the triple  repetition is either "extremely emphatic" or "a form of the superlative", and suggests it has Semitic features. I'll copy the section here:

Implicit threefold unities are to be found in the ordering of right-middle-left (Exod 14:29; Num 20:27), beginning-middle-end (Wisd 7:17–20), and heavens-earth-sea (Ps 96:11; Amos 9:6; Hag 2:6; cf. Lev 11). Exact triple repetitions are rare and extremely emphatic (Jer 7:4; 22:29) or a form of the superlative (Isa 6:3). The use of three terms belonging to the same semantic field is a feature of Hebrew rhetoric (Lev 26:15; Deut 5:31; 6:17). The Aaronic blessing has a triple structure and a threefold occurrence of the divine name (Num 6:24–27), and threefold linkage of words or phrases or grammatical sequences is common in both rhetorical prose (Deut 6:5; 30:11–14) and poetry (Mic 6:8; Nah 1:2), the third element usually being the climax. The most reduced telling of a story or delineation of a cycle takes place in three sections (beginning-middle-end; cf. Wisd 7:17–20). The universe can be described by ternary as well as by binary sets of terms (e.g., heavens-earth-water, Ps 96:11; Amos 9:6; Hag 2:6; cf. Lev 11). The tabernacle/temple has three main areas (Most Holy Place, Holy Place, court, Exod 25–27; 1 Kgs 6), corresponding to decreasing intensities of divine presence and increasing breadth of human access as one proceeds outwards.

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