Cognitive Linguistics, Semantics, and Biblical Hebrew

I just read a fascinating post from Peter Leithart on Figures and Semantics in which he mentions and quotes Reinier de Blois and Enio Mueller. You can find the introduction to de Blois’ published dissertation Towards a New Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew: Based on Semantic Domains online here as well as a 2002 SBL paper “Lexicography and Cognitive Linguistics: Hebrew Metaphors from a Cognitive Perspective,” which he updated in a 2004 DavarLogos article here. Mueller has a paper called “The Semantics of Biblical Hebrew: Some Remarks from a Cognitive Perspective” available online. Leithart makes use of de Blois’ introduction and Mueller’s paper.

And just for the fun of it you might like to check out Christo H.J. van der Merwe’s 2006 Biblica article “Lexical Meaning in Biblical Hebrew and Cognitive Semantics: A Case Study” as well as his 2002 Acta Theologica Supplementum paper “An Overview of Recent Developments in the description of Biblical Hebrew Relevant to Bible Translation.” Interested readers will also like to check out Ellen van Wolde’s (yes, the same Ellen van Wolde who caused quite the kerfuffle a couple of years back when she suggested that the verb ברא does not mean “to create” in Genesis 1:1-2:4a, drawing responses from the likes of John Hobbins and Chris Heard among others) “Cognitive Linguistics and the Hebrew Bible: Illustrated with a study of Job 28 and Job 38.”

That should be enough to get your brain hurting.



7 thoughts on “Cognitive Linguistics, Semantics, and Biblical Hebrew

  1. My current master’s thesis is a cognitive-semantic investigation of the generic notion of deity in the Hebrew Bible, so I’ve read these papers recently. A book with a somewhat similar topic is Terrance Wardlaw, Conceptualizing Words for “God” within the Pentateuch: A Cognitive-Semantic Investigation in Literary Context. Also check out some dissertations van der Merwe has supervised in Stellenbosch:

    T. Bosman, “Biblical Hebrew lexicology and cognitive semantics: a study of lexemes of affection.”
    C. J. Yoo, “A cognitive linguistic description of Biblical Hebrew connectives.”
    J. N. Pohlig, “A cognitive analysis of Hosea’s similes.”
    D. L. Rodriguez, “תחת: a cognitive linguistic analysis of the Biblical Hebrew lexeme.”

  2. Dan, you may want to consider auditing TWU linguistics department’s courses on historical linguistics and philosophy of language–both of which place cognitive linguistics front and center (that and historical linguistics is something anyone studying ancient languages should be familiar with at some level). I’m not sure that TWU’s religious studies department has the background for your work.

  3. I’ll be moving shortly and will be finishing my thesis remotely over the summer, but you wouldn’t happen to have a syllabus or a reading list for that course, would you?

  4. I just dropped in to see if Mike Aubrey was going to say something. Sure enough.

    RE: “… glad biblical studies has caught up to what linguistics was doing in the late 1980s.”

    E. A. Gutt published his first book on Relevance Theory in 1992.

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