“Rhétorique sémitique” (RhSem)

Collection directed by Roland Meynet with Jacek Oniszczuk.


Many imagine that classical rhetoric, inherited from the Greeks through the Romans, is universal. It is indeed the one that seems to govern modern culture, which the West has spread over the whole planet. The time has now come to abandon such ethnocentrism: classical rhetoric is not alone in the world.

The Hebrew Bible, whose texts were written mainly in Hebrew but also in Aramaic, obeys a rhetoric that is quite different from Greco-Roman rhetoric. It must therefore be recognized that there is another rhetoric, the “Hebrew rhetoric”.

As for the other biblical texts, of the Old Testament and the New, which were either translated or written directly in Greek, they largely obey the same laws. We are therefore entitled to speak not only of Hebrew rhetoric, but more broadly of “biblical rhetoric”.

Moreover, these same laws were then recognized at work in Akkadian, Ugaritic and other texts, upstream of the Hebrew Bible, and then in the Arabic texts of the Muslim Tradition and the Koran, downstream of the biblical literature. It must therefore be admitted that this rhetoric is not only biblical, and we shall say that all these texts which belong, in different ways, to the same cultural area, belong to the same rhetoric which we shall call “Semitic rhetoric”.

Contrary to the impression that the Western reader inevitably gets, the texts of the Semitic tradition are very well composed, provided, of course, that they are analyzed according to the laws of the rhetoric to which they belong. We know that the form of the text, its layout, is the main gateway to meaning. Not that the composition provides, directly and automatically, the meaning. However, when the formal analysis allows to operate a reasoned division of the text, to define in a more objective way its context, to put in evidence the organization of the work at the various levels of its architecture, are thus united the conditions which allow to undertake, on less subjective and fragmentary bases, the work of interpretation.

Ces livres sont publiés avec le soutien de l’Association Hervé Renaudin