Syntactic and Literary Analysis of Ancient Northwest Semitic Inscriptions

Author: Schade, Aaron
Northwest Semitic syntax has been explored extensively on word, phrasal, and clausal levels. This has contributed much to our understanding of the languages in this linguistic family. There have also been numerous studies on micro level and isolated occurrences of literary devices within the corpus of texts. This work examines Northwest Semitic inscriptional material from the 10th – 5th centuries BCE and includes writings predominantly from the Phoenician, Moabite, and Hebrew languages. The inscriptions are analyzed based on a text level approach, and it will be demonstrated how clauses and sentences work together to form larger syntactic units. Additionally, the literary structure of the texts will be defined and the function of the macro level literary devices will be explained. As these larger levels of literary devices can only be detected when viewed in combination with the syntax of the compositions as a whole, the two approaches will be explained independently, yet cooperatively. Thus, the syntax and literary structure of the texts will compliment each other, as the syntax is the vehicle that conveys the literary devices within the inscriptions.


“This is an easy and pleasing invitation to understand the occasional writings of some ordinary and some grander folk from ancient Judah and Lebanon. You can read the texts they wrote, and see how they work, and you have translations, and know right away why they make such sense. You are invited into the world of labourers and their lawyers, of the pleased and the pathetic, into the thinking of princes and parvenu, and into the politics, religion and relations that bound or conflicted immigrant and indigenous societies.” – (From the Foreword) Dr. Brian Peckham, University of Toronto

“ ... Dr. Schade’s contribution will serve many needs for years to come. It supplies an introduction, translation, and textual discussion of the major Canaanite (i.e., Phoenician, Moabite, and Hebrew) inscriptions; more important, however, is that Dr. Schade delineates the discourse segments of each inscription and provides a clause-by-clause syntactic parsing that will be an invaluable resource for those similarly interested in moving the understanding of the grammar of these languages forward.” – Dr. Robert D. Holmstedt, University of Toronto

“In this book, Dr. Aaron Schade makes a significant contribution to the study of Semitic languages and texts that will be read and taken seriously by scholars. Approaching the Northwest Semitic inscriptions from a literary point of view that has been neglected too frequently in the past ... This is a very fine piece of scholarship that should be a standard for many years to come.” – Professor Kent P. Jackson, Brigham Young University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Brian Peckham
1. Introduction
2. The Phoenician Azatiwada Inscription from Karatepe
3. The Phoenician Inscription of Kilamuwa
4. Phoenician Inscriptions from Byblos: Ahirom, Yehimilk, Abibaal, and Yehawmilk
5. The Tabnit and Eshmunazor Inscriptions from Sidon
6. The Mesha Inscription
7. The Hebrew Mesad Hashavyahu Inscription
8. Final Conclusions
Author Index
General Index