A CLASH OF HANDS AND TONGUES - 2 MACCABEES 14 AND 15 IN THE FRAMEWORK OF COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 12
16 views
PDF
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Document Description
A CLASH OF HANDS AND TONGUES - 2 MACCABEES 14 AND 15 IN THE FRAMEWORK OF COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS
Document Share
Document Tags
Document Transcript
  1 A CLASH OF HANDS AND TONGUES -2 MACCABEES 14 AND 15 IN THEFRAMEWORK OF COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS. Pierre Johan Jordaan North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus  ABSTRACT Applying cognitive linguistics to the text of 2 Maccabees 14 and 15 is a useful tool forour understanding of these narratives. Studying the author of 2 Maccabees 14 and 15 ’s use of the cognitive concepts “ hands ” , “ right hand ” and “ tongue ” in contrasting ways,makes it possible to reconstruct the narrative into a structure of  “ body-cosmology ”. Inthis exegetical structure, the narrative of 2 Maccabees 14 and 15 can be described as aconfrontation between “ that which is below ” and “ that which is above ” or a conflict of interests between the authority of the God of the Maccabees and a gentile dictator. Inthis conflict between a heavenly and earthly force, the Maccabees are depicted as those who restore God’s reign by their holy actions . 1. INTRODUCTION Cognitive linguistics is an exciting new interdisciplinary development of the past 30 years.As a scientific approach to the study of language, cognitive linguistics endeavour toincorporate different aspects of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and even computer science (Evans, Bergen & Zinken, 2007:XIII). Like other linguists, cognitive linguists ’ alsoattempt to describe an account for the systematicity, structure and function of language.Cognitive linguistics, as a new approach to the study of languages, differs mainly from other approaches in the assumption that language reflects certain fundamental properties anddesign features of the human mind (Evans & Green, 2006:5). In short, cognitive linguistics isthe study of the complex relationship between language and mind (Evans, Bergen & Zinken,2007:XIII). In the past linguists usually divided and studied language in different aspects  2 such as phonology, semantics, pragmatics, morphology and syntaxes (Evans, Bergen &Zinken, 2007:3). This is, however, not the main purpose of cognitive linguistics.Language provides a method of encoding and transmitting complex and subtle ideas.Cognitive linguistics shows that languages have a symbolic and interactive function (Evans &Green, 2006:6). Overall, cognitive linguistics shows that languages are imbedded withincultural frameworks and that the symbolic and interactive function of a language are bound toits cultural framework. Thus, the better the understanding of a culture, the more advanced theunderstanding of its language. It is important to note that in the theory of cognitivelinguistics, language is not merely a reflection or representation of reality. According to thetheory of cognitive linguistics, reality is constructed by language (Jordaan & Nolte,2010:527-529; Evans & Green, 2006:179, 190-243).Since the Old Testament and its Apocrypha are the result of the written Word of God, it isimportant for scholars to realise that cognitive linguistics can improve their understanding of  biblical languages 1 . By improving the understanding of biblical languages, the exegesis willalso be on a higher level. It is important to remember that just as language is acommunication mechanism, texts are mediums of communication (Becker, 2005:45). Tounderstand the message of the text, is to understand the author’s communication byexpressing his/her ideas through written language. Therefore, the aim of this article is toindicate that a cognitive linguistic approach is indispensable for the understanding of OldTestament texts. 2. PROBLEM During the long history of developing different exegetical approaches to biblical texts, thefocus of these different exegetical models range from studying the author, the textsthemselves and the first reader or hearer (Hays & Holladay, 2007; De Villiers 2006;Gerstenberger 1988). Recently, considerable attention was given to the development of existencetional existential, redactional and canonical exegesis (Gorman, 2001:16-20). In thisdevelopment of exegetical approaches, it was recognized that biblical texts each has its own Guttung  and Sitz im Leben and, therefore, it is necessary to study, not only the Umwelt  of texts, but also the Sprachwelt  (Hays & Holladay, 2007; Barton, 1984:8; Preuss, 1984) . Incontrast with the attention given to the study of biblical languages and its Sprachwelt, notmuch attention was given to cognitive linguistics as a hermeneutical model in the exegetical 1 Languages in which the biblical texts were written, namely Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  3  proses. That is exploring the language of the texts as a mechanism used by the author toconstruct certain realities, even if it may be symbolic realities.In their studies of texts of the so-called deuterocanonical books or Apocrypha of the OldTestament, mainstream scholars of the past decades approached the Apocrypha almost thesame way as their counterparts with the rest of the Old Testament. In this article the focuswill be on a cognitive linguistically approach to 2 Maccabees 14 en 15. However, as a broadoverview, the approaches of mainstream scholars to the Old Testament Apocrypha, andspecifically to the books of Maccabees, can be summarized as follows:    Moffat (in Charles, 1913:125-154) and Kamphausen (1921) are examples of scholarswhose commentaries merely record the narratives without providing much more thana surface reading. Much is said by them about the different text variations and codicesof 2 Maccabees 14 and 15, but they never questioned matters such as the meaning of these stories to certain religious communities and why these stories are recorded and presented the way they are. No attempt is made to indicate a deeper meaning in thenarrative or to show the significance of it for the Jewish community;    Bickermann (1937) focuses on the different aspects of God in 2 Maccabees;    J.A. Goldstein (1983) focuses on the texts;    Erich S. Gruen (1998; 2002) briefly refers to various motives such as humour and propaganda, but does not proffer a connection to cognitive linguistics;    J.W. van Henten (2004) approaches the texts thematically and he focuses on theGreek influence on the texts;    D.R. Swartz (2008) focuses on the specific dating of texts and the implication thedifferent eras had on the texts. He is of the opinion that the texts also may have beenwritten and used outside Jerusalem. He also states that the texts institutionalize theHellenization of the Jews;    Robert Doran (1996) refers to the theology and worldview of 2 Maccabees. He(Doran, 1996:181) even states that the author of 2 Maccabees “ love to indulge inmetaphors and word play, but fails to make a correlation with cognitive linguistics ”.  This article will show that a cognitive linguistically approach to 2 Maccabees 14 and 15 willimprove our understanding of the texts.  4 3. METHODOLOGY As an approach to 2 Maccabees 14 and 15 the so-called body-cosmology will be used. Inusing body-cosmology as cognitive frameset, two cognitive concepts will be incorporated,namely the domain of the human   body and the domain of space (Evans & Green 2006:230-235). In the text the domain of the human body is r  epresented in the author’s use of  deci άν   (2 Mac. 14:33; 15:15); χείρας (2 Mac. 14:34); χερζίν (2 Mac. 15:27); χείρα (2 Mac. 15:30) ; κεφαλή (2 Mac. 15:30) and gl ω ss αν (2 Mac. 15:33). (See Fig. 1). Figure 1 The concept  space , however, is also represented by the use of the indicated body parts infigure 1, namely “ right hand ” and “ hands ” . (Evans & Green 2006:230-235). For example, bystretching out his right hand against the temple of the Jewish Deity, Nicanor is symbolically pushing back the authoritarian boundaries (space) of the God of Heaven. At the same time Nicanor is symbolically enlarging his own region (space) of authority. It will be discussed below in more detail. Furthermore, the use of the terms οὐρανῷ (2 Mac. 15:3) and  γῆς (2Mac. 15:5) also represent the concept of space.The concepts heaven and earth not only represent space, but support the idea of cosmology inthe text. The references to the temple support both the ideas of  body and cosmology. Thetemple in Jerusalem was built on the highest peak of Mount Zion and thus the highest point inJerusalem (Ps. 48). Symbolically, the temple was the “ head ” of Jerusalem and the Jewishnation. Hence, the notion that you “ go up ” to the temple or Jerusalem (cf. the Songs of  Degrees  –    Ps.   120-134; Walton, 2006:113-134; Murphy, 2002:36-45). The temple wasdivided in three parts in the same way as the body, namely    the holy of holies  –  the head;    the holy part in the middle where the priest may go  –  the shoulders down to the navel;    the porch area where the Jews themselves may go  –  from the navel down. κεφαλή   glw?ss α   xei?ra   deci ός    5 The temple also represented the cosmology balance that was created by the Deity when Hecreated heaven and earth. The temple was built to represent the heavenly dwelling of theDeity he found “ over  ” the “ ordered chaos ” as symbol of his victory over the forces of chaos(cf. Ps. 29; Murphy, 2002:68). Thus, the temple was a symbol of the Deity’s sovereigntyover both heaven and earth. The temple also formed the boundary of the Deity’s sacred heavenly space on earth (Walton, 2006:113-135; Murphy, 2002:36-45) . Earthly authoritieswere supposed to resemble the sovereignty of God and to be subjected to Him (cf. Ps. 2). If earthly authorities do not subject themselves to the sovereignty of God, there will be chaos.From all the above we can derive the following:    the cosmos forms a body of which the Deity (the God of Heaven) represents the head;    the temple represents the heavenly cosmos-body;    the closer you are to the head, the more holy you are;    all things above the navel is good;    all things from the navel down, is not good;    the earthly authorities represent the sovereignty of God;    earthly authorities forms the head of a earthly body;    the earthly body represents the heavenly body;(See Fig. 2)As stated above, cognitive linguistics shows that languages have a symbolic and interactivefunction.  –  The symbolic function of the arm and tongue will be the focus in 2 Maccabees 14and 15.
Similar documents
View more...
Search Related
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks