I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


A. Parallelisms of specification
1. Specification defined
“In the parallelism of specification, each succeeding stich makes more specific what the opening stich states in general.  In other words, the movement is from general to specific.”[1]
2. Examples of parallelisms of specification in Ps 24
a.         α          The whole earth is YHWH’s,                           and the fullness of it;                                      
β          the habitable world [is YHWH’s],                  and they that inhabit it. (v 1)

The first stich of this couplet first presents the cosmos and its contents in the most general sense, the entire earth and all that in it is; the second stich uses the more specific term “world” (têbêl), which connotes the habitable terrain of the earth, as well as “they that inhabit it.”  This general à specific move, especially in this creational sense, is not unlike what we see in Gen 1 and 2, where the author give the panoramic scenes of Creator God bringing the cosmos into existence in chapter 1, and focusing in on YHWH creating and culturing Eden with a garden nook for to tabernacle with his people.  Psalm 24:1 likely carries the same sense; YHWH is Creator and Owner of all, even all of the inhabitants of the hospitable domains.  In other words, all domains, even those of Israel’s enemies, are under YHWH supreme Kingship and rule.  Moreover, if the foregoing observations on the background are correct, then there may be a ring in this distich of YHWH’s universal Kingship, and especially Israel and Jerusalem. 

b.         α          Who shall go up into the mountain of YHWH?          
            β          Who shall stand up in his holy place? (v 3)
This parallelism also moves from the general, the mountain or hill of YHWH, or Jerusalem, the City of God, to the specific, YHWH’s mediated presence in the tent/tabernacle/temple via the Ark of the Covenant.  The purpose of this was to prepare the pilgrims for the gravity of the worship to which they were going.  It is one thing to go up to Jerusalem, but once there, the worshipper would find themselves in the presence of YHWH, the Most Holy God of Israel!

c.         α          Such is the generation of them that seek him,
             β         that seek his presence—[even] Jacob.  Selah. (v 6)
Granted, the translation is this couplet is a source of disagreement among scholars.  However, if this translation is correct, then here lies another specification parallel.  It may also be arranged in a chiastic structure to highlight the specification.
            i. Such is the generation (α-)
                        ii. of them that seek him, (-α)
                        ii. that seek his presence/face (β-)
            i. [even] Jacob (-β)

The answers to the question regarding who can stand in the holy place in v 3 where answered in terms of the individual in vv 4—5.  In v 6, there is a shift to the corporate community and their desire to seek YHWH.  The general “generation” (or class or group) is used in the first stich, as is the general “seek him.”  The second stich specifies what they seek YHWH for, namely his presence/face and who exactly it is that does seek his presence, “[even] Jacob”!  Like the parallelism of  v 3 above, here too the worshipper is awakened to what lies before them, specifically. 

B. Parallelism of alteration with intensification[2]
1. Alteration defined
            An alteration is when there are series of members that have a particular correspondence, in which the first stich of one series corresponds to the first stich in the next series of member, the second with the second and so on.  For example, the pattern looks something like this.

2. Parallelism of intensification defined
“A parallelism of intensification…occurs when the second stich of a couplet restates the first in a more pointed, extreme, or forceful way…we might way the second develops the first by saying, ‘Not only that but more so.’”[3]              

3. Example of parallelism of alteration with intensification in Ps 24
            A1. YHWH’s Right to the City | Lift up…that the King of glory might come in (v 7)
               B1. The Gates Seek Identification | Who is this King of glory? (v 8a)
                  C1. The Coming King Identified | YHWH, strong and mighty;
                                                                                    YHWH, mighty in battle. (v 8b, c)

            A2. YHWH’s Right to the City | Lift up…that the King of glory might come in (v 9)
               B2. The Gates Seek Identification | Who is this King of glory? (v 10a)
                  C2. The Coming King Identified | YHWH of Hosts,
                                                                                    he is the King of glory. (v 10b, c)
            Members A and B are synonymous in both series; the change, the intensification occurs in the C members.  C1 identifies the coming King in terms of what he does, he is “mighty in battle” (v 8c), for example.  In C2, however, the unconditioned title of the God of the armies of Israel is stated without qualification; “YHWH of Hosts, he is the King of glory!”  This key term, this technical title for YHWH is connected with the Ark and the establishment of Jerusalem and her king, David.  C2, therefore, identifies the coming King as the rightful owner of King of the city; it identifies him in terms of Who he is rather than what he does, which intensifies the C member. 

[1] William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, Robert L. Hubbard contributors, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation.  Thomas Nelson: Nashville, Tennessee (2004), p. 293.
[2] The alteration structure of the parallel is indebted to E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible: Explained and Illustrated.  Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan (1968), p. 373.

[3] Klein, et al., p. 295.

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