“Retorica biblica e Semitica” (ReBibSem)

Collection directed by Roland Meynet and Jacek Oniszczuk.

Many people think that classical rhetoric, inherited from the Greeks through the Romans, is universal. In fact, it seems to standardize modern culture, which the West has spread all over the planet. The time has come to abandon such ethnocentrism: classical rhetoric is not unique in the world.

The Hebrew Bible, whose texts are written mainly in Hebrew, but also in Aramaic, follows a very different rhetoric from Greco-Latin rhetoric. It must therefore be recognized that there is another rhetoric, “Hebrew rhetoric.”

As for the other biblical texts, of the Old and New Testaments, which have been translated or composed directly in Greek, they largely obey the same laws. One can therefore speak not only of Hebrew rhetoric but, more broadly, of “biblical rhetoric.”

These same laws have also been recognized as operating in the Akkadian, Ugaritic and other texts, preceding or contemporary to the Hebrew Bible, then in the Arabic texts of the Muslim Tradition and the Koran, subsequent to biblical literature. It must therefore be admitted that this rhetoric is not only biblical; and it will be said that all those texts, which belong, in different ways, to the same cultural area, depend on the same rhetoric, which will be called “Semitic rhetoric”.

Contrary to the impression that the Western reader inevitably gets, the texts of the Semitic tradition are composed and well composed, provided of course that they are analyzed according to the rhetoric to which they belong. It is known that the form of the text, its arrangement, is the main door that opens access to meaning. Not that the composition provides, directly and automatically, the meaning. However, when the formal analysis allows us to make a reasoned division of the text, to define more objectively its context, to highlight the organization of the work at different levels of its architecture, then we find the conditions that allow us to undertake, on a less subjective and fragmentary basis, the work of interpretation.

“Biblical Rhetoric and Semitic” took the follow-up to the series “Biblical Rhetoriclica” at the Edizioni Dehoniane of Bologna.