Wordplay in the Hebrew Bible and the versiones antiquae

Dr. Karolien Vermeulen

Promotors: Prof. dr. Klaas Smelik (UGent) & Prof. dr. Vivian Liska (UAntwerpen)

Since the Hebrew Bible text was written down, people have shown interest in its exact wording. However, an academic study in which the language choices would be explained outside a religious-mystical framework has been non-existent for a long time. With I. Casanowitzc’s work on paronomasia at the end of the nineteenth century more and more notices of wordplay started to occur in academic articles, often in footnotes. More recently scholars such as G. Rendsburg, S. Noegel and M. Garsiel have made the unusual renderings as one of their main research topics. The current research project stands in the latter tradition, focusing on wordplay in the Hebrew Bible in the book of Genesis, and in particular on devices of a paronomastic or polysemous nature. The project is highly text based and draws on literary criticism, ancient and late ancient exegesis (Greco-Roman and rabbinic), and previous analyses of Genesis from different angles (narratological, historical-critical, theological, sociological …). Through the use of old translations, and comparative Semitics and literature, it aims to shed a light on the role and use of wordplay in Genesis and in extension in the Hebrew Bible. 


Mailing address: IJS
University of Antwerp
Prinsstraat 13 L.400
2000 Antwerp