Reading with the Masoretes: The Exegetical Utility of Masoretic Accent Patterns

The Masoretic accent system remains one of the most exegetically relevant and least understood dimensions of the Hebrew Bible. This historic system fulfills multiple purposes in the reading tradition; most prominently the system provides a thorough syntactic map of the Hebrew text. The Masoretes employ certain accent patterns to consistently mirror grammatical and discourse features. These patterns exhibit occasional and intentional divergence. Such divergence often spotlights areas of semantic interest in the text. This study examines four accent patterns throughout the book of Judges: (1) Etnachta after direct speech, (2) Etnachta before ve‘atah, (3) accents framing conditional sentences, and (4) accents at contrast structures. Each case study provides a statistical overview, numerous examples to illustrate the pattern, and evidence for intentional diversion from the pattern.

Reading with the Masoretes: The Exegetical Utility of Masoretic Accent Patterns

  • Dr. Marcus A. Leman earned his B.A. in TESOL from Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, IL), M.Div. from Bethlehem Seminary (Minneapolis, MN), and Ph.D. in Old Testament from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY). He is currently preparing to serve as a biblical language consultant. 

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