Teaching Vayyiqtol

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Jason Hare
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Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Jason Hare »

For those who teach Hebrew:

How do you broach the subject of the forms and use of the vayyiqtol?

We're about to begin "an advanced course in intermediate biblical Hebrew" (if one can call something at once advanced and also intermediate), and the first topic that I will be raising will be the vav-consecutive for past narratives. I'll be asking participants to write synopses for the various passages that we will cover from the story of Elijah from First and Second Kings (using Cook and Holmstedt's intermediate textbook).

What I'm basically asking from students is that they pull the verbs from the story and think through how to reconstruct the story choosing from those verbs (and other that they might want to add). They will then write out a synopsis of the text in Hebrew that will need to follow the biblical style of vav-consecutive for the narrative line—and they need to be able to pull the verb out of the vav-consecutive and use it in the normal perfect and imperfect forms. We'll be using spoken Hebrew in the class sessions as much as possible (with biblical stylization, of course).

How do you discuss the vayyiqtol when presenting it to students?

Thanks,
Jason
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יוֹדֵ֣עַ צַ֭דִּיק נֶ֣פֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּ֑וֹ וְֽרַחֲמֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַכְזָרִֽי׃
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Kirk Lowery
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Kirk Lowery »

Although there are instances of narratives using qatal or a mix of conjugations, I understand the wayyiqtol as the default "narrative tense"; better, it is the conjugation that tells one that a story is being told, and that this verb in relation to the previous verb, is the "next step" in the story, whatever that might be.

I've seen (in the Psalms, for example) snippets of two or three wayyiqtol together embedded in something larger. I call these "micro-narratives". But in the Former Prophets, we have long strings of wayyiqtols, interrupted by dialogue or poetry or background information.

I'm not sure this is helpful for your pedagogy, but it's how I understand the form.

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Jason Hare
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Jason Hare »

What I'm really hoping to get it at is how to "set it up." Meaning, it's easy to say that Hebrew uses vayyiqtol to carry a past narrative from one point to the next, but how do we go about building a picture for someone who maybe doesn't know what a narrative is or is completely unaware of this type of thing.

Would it be a good idea, for example, to elicit from students the different ways that they use their native language and then draw it down to the idea of telling stories? How do we get students to envision what narrative is all about? Most of our students who come to biblical languages haven't invested a lot in writing stories in their personal lives.

I like the idea of mini narratives within Psalms, by the way. :)
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יוֹדֵ֣עַ צַ֭דִּיק נֶ֣פֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּ֑וֹ וְֽרַחֲמֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַכְזָרִֽי׃
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Isaac Fried
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Isaac Fried »

It is true that the student needs first to understand that the verbal form called vayyiqtol is a compound, then he needs to recognize the function of each component of this compound to see what it all means.

Isaac Fried, Boston University
www.hebrewetymology.com
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Kirk Lowery
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Kirk Lowery »

Jason,

I've focused on research for many years and it's been some time since I've taught Hebrew Discourse Analysis. But faced with such an assignment as you describe, I would step the students in class through two relative short and self contained narratives, e.g., one of the Judges and a small section out of Esther, pointing out the salient features of the presence (and absence) the wayyiqtol. Especially about the shift in word order from VSO to SVO with the qatal for background information, in contrast to the primary narrative line (foreground).

Then I'd take a short narrative in English and have them compose the Hebrew as homework. Then in class have them compare theirs with yours as you go through the process of composing the Hebrew. That should generate a lot of questions!

So...going from the known to the unknown; classic pedagogical technique.

What do you think?

Kirk
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Jason Hare
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Jason Hare »

Brilliant. Thanks!
Jason Hare
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יוֹדֵ֣עַ צַ֭דִּיק נֶ֣פֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּ֑וֹ וְֽרַחֲמֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַכְזָרִֽי׃
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Jason Hare »

Kirk Lowery wrote: Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:34 am <snip>
‎ ‎ ‎ ‎... it's been some time since I've taught Hebrew Discourse Analysis.
</snip>
Kirk,

Just re-reading this thread, and this jumped out at me.

Out of curiosity, have you gotten your hands on Patton and Putnam's Basics of Hebrew Discourse by any chance? If so, what do you make of it?

Jason
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יוֹדֵ֣עַ צַ֭דִּיק נֶ֣פֶשׁ בְּהֶמְתּ֑וֹ וְֽרַחֲמֵ֥י רְ֝שָׁעִ֗ים אַכְזָרִֽי׃
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Kirk Lowery »

Jason,

No I haven't. And I should have. Arrives on Thursday. :-)

I know Fred Putnam personally. We have team-taught doctoral seminars on Hebrew discourse at Westminster together. The last time we did an exploratory/experimental examination of discourse elements of Hebrew Poetry focusing on Lamentations. Fred is an outstanding scholar and excellent teacher. I did a quick review of the table of contents and it looks good. I'll know more on Thursday.

If you search on the book title, there are some video lectures available relating to the book, done by the authors. I'm going to check them out after I get the book.

Kirk
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kwrandolph
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by kwrandolph »

Wouldn’t how to teach the Wayyiqtol be connected to how the Wayyiqtol is understood? Would you teach the different understandings of the Wayyiqtol, or just one way it’s understood? For example, Rolf Furuli in his dissertation indicated over a hundred times it’s used for future actions, as well as many times it’s used for present actions—would that be part of the teaching of Wayyiqtol? Would you teach that the Wayyiqtol is a special form, or that, as Rolf Furuli claims, it has the same actions as does the Yiqtol?

I know how I would teach it, that it’s basically modal, but it doesn’t have all the moods found in English grammar, however it has moods not found in English.

Karl W. Randolph.
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Jason Hare
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Re: Teaching Vayyiqtol

Post by Jason Hare »

Do you have access that you can share to Furuli's dissertation? I cannot rely on his conclusions without looking at his presentation myself.

Are you saying that something like וַיָּ֫קָם can be used (according to Furuli) to express a regular event in the future? I can imagine it being used within a sequence of weqatal forms to refer to something that is completed, similar to our future perfect in English. I cannot imagine it being used as a bare future tense.
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