Anaphora Resolution In a Biblical Passage Final Draft

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Daniel, the presumed “encoded” Bible book, has been for millennia a persistent puzzle for Hebrew scholars and theologians, but a traditional grammatical approach that has attempted to “decode” the text has not been too successful. There are still, in
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  Anaphora Resolution In a Biblical Passage 1 Anaphora Resolution in a Biblical Passage Eduard C. Hanganu B.A., M.A., Linguistics Lecturer in English, UE Draft 10 Revised  –   December 19, 2014 © 2014  Anaphora Resolution In a Biblical Passage 2 Anaphora Resolution in a Biblical Passage Introduction  Daniel  , the presumed “ encoded ”  Bible book, has been for millennia a persistent puzzle for Hebrew scholars and theologians, but a traditional grammatical approach that has attempted to “ decode ”  the text has not been too successful. There are still, in  Daniel  ’ s chapters, countless interpretation issues that await clarification, and frustrated theologians and scholars seem to have hit the traditional brick wall in their efforts to find solutions to such problems. One of the most vexing enigmas is the srcin of the little horn in Daniel 8: 8. The matter has been studied, deliberated, and argued without too much success in various theological circles for quite a long time, and the issue still remains to be settled. Some biblical scholars contend that the little horn arose from the “four notable” horns that followed the dissolution of Alexander the Great’s immense empire, while other scholars and theologians are certain that the little horn came out of one of the “ four winds of heaven ” mentioned in the same biblical text. This paper argues that although the topic is theological in nature and the efforts to solve the little horn riddle have been for the most part dogmatic  —  deductive and non-empirical rather than inductive and empirical  —  there is a better approach to the problem ’ s solution, and that approach is based in a linguistic method  —  anaphora resolution. Evidence provided in this paper will show that the anaphora resolution approach can help solve the puzzle that surrounds the little horn in Daniel 8, and provide a logical and factual clarification for the biblical text. The Biblical Text Under Discussion The biblical passage that has puzzled numerous theologians and Bible scholars for centuries is located in Daniel 8: 8-9, and the question that still waits for an answer is what would  Anaphora Resolution In a Biblical Passage 3  be the correct grammatical antecedent to the pronoun “ them ”  in verse 9. The English translation  below comes from the King James Bible: KJV 8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was  broken; and for it came up four notable ones  [emphasis added] toward the four winds of heaven  [emphasis added]. 9 And out of one of them [emphasis added] came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. The Confusion About Gender Discord The complication that intervenes in the traditional, that is, grammatical, resolution  process for the antecedent to the pronoun “ them ”  in Daniel 8:9 is a gender discord that occurs  between verses 8 and 9 in Daniel 8. One theologian explains this Hebrew language gender discord in the following comment: 9. Out of one of them. In the Hebrew this phrase presents confusion of gender. The word for “them,” hem , is masculine. This indicates that, grammatically, the antecedent is “winds” (v. 8) and not “horns,” since “winds” may be either masculine or feminine, but “horns,” only feminine. On the other hand the word for “one,” achath , is feminine, suggesting “horns” as the antecedent.  Achath could, of course, refer back to the word for “winds,” which occurs most frequently in the feminine. But it is doubtful that the writer would assign two different genders to the same noun in such close contextual relationship. To reach grammatical agreement, either achath should be changed into a masculine, thus making the entire phrase refer clearly to “winds,” or the word for “them”  Anaphora Resolution In a Biblical Passage 4 should be changed into a feminine, in which case the reference would be ambiguous, since either “winds” or “horns” may be the antecedent. A number of Hebrew manuscripts have the word for “them” in the feminine. If these manuscripts reflect the correct reading, the passage is still ambiguous. (Nichol, 1978) The “Nearest Antecedent” Explanation Because Daniel 8:8 appears to provide two choices (1. “ four notable ones, and 2. “ four winds of heaven ” ) for the pronoun “ them, ”  some theologians and scholars have claimed that the solution to the problem might be found in the “nearest antecedent”  notion, that is, that the “ nearest antecedent ”  to the pronoun “ them ”  in  Daniel 8:9 might be the true referent for the  pronoun “ them ”  because “the ‘them’ in ‘out of one of them’ at the beginning of verse 9   most naturally refers to the nearest antecedent [emphasis added]: the immediate preceding ‘four winds of heaven’  at the end of verse 8 ”  (Gane, 2006, p. 37). Gane ’ s proposed solution, though it seems to be based in “ common sense ”  and deductive logic does not stand the empirical test. It appears that the issue requires more than common sense and deduction  —  it requires induction that ends in a conclusion based on empirical or factual evidence. In the conclusion to his research about the possible statistical distance between the anaphor and its true antecedent, Mitkov (1999) had warned: Most of the anaphora resolution systems deal with resolution of anaphors which have noun phrases as their antecedents because identifying anaphors which have verb phrases, clauses, sentences or even paragraphs/discourse segments as antecedents, is a more complicated task. Typically, all noun phrases (NPs) preceding an anaphor are initially regarded as potential candidates for antecedents. Usually, a search scope has to be  Anaphora Resolution In a Biblical Passage 5 identified: most approaches look for NPs in the current and preceding sentence. However, an "ideal" anaphora resolution system should extend its scope of search: antecedents which are 17 sentences away from the anaphor have already been reported [emphasis added]. (p.3)   Gender Discord and Diglossia Puzzle The gender discord in between verses 8 and 9 in Daniel 8 could be another deductive trap when conclusions are based on opinions and not on research. The grammatical discord between the two verses is a natural language phenomenon in Hebrew  —  diglossia  —  that happens when two different Hebrew language varieties are in use and has no weight in the anaphora resolution  process for the pronoun “ them. ”  Explains Laiu: The gender disagreement in Da 8:9 and consequently the grammatical chiastic agreement suggested 50  by scholars have been best explained by Martin Pröbstle, 51 following Rendsburg’s studies. 52  While this masculine form ם ה מ   mē·hém, instead of the required feminine form ן ה מ   mē·hén is not Standard Biblical Hebrew, and would be considered as a grammatical disagreement, it is merely a formal disagreement, specific to the spoken Hebrew that often uses masculine forms for both genders. 53 (2013, pp. 19-21) Anaphora Resolution And Its Method The scientific and reliable approach for the solution to the anaphora problem in Daniel 8:8-9 that linguistics provides, anaphora resolution solves the issue and eliminates the confusion about what the authentic antecedent to “them” might be. Orăsan and Evans  define anaphora resolution as follows:
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