An examination of the function of the piÊ¿el in biblical Hebrew
Since Albrecht Goetze criticized the 'intensive' explanation of the function of
the D-stem in Semitic languages in 1942, scholars have been debating how the
function of the theme [stem] ought to be described. This debate focuses on the nature
of both internal relationships - how do all its function relate, and external
relationships - how docs the theme relate to the rest of the verbal system. The
framework of the discussion tends to expect that the data is able to provide answers to
these questions that arc both absolute in nature and exhaustive in scope. As a result,
scholarly response is largely polarized between the verbal system being necessarily
either 'systematic' - the connection between form and function is transparent, or
'lexicalizcd' - the connection between form and function is opaque. Consequently,
the discussion of the piel in Biblical Hebrew is also set in this framework, represented
in particular by the work of Ernst Jenni. The shape of the route taken in research on
the function of the piel since Goetze's article is described in chapter one.
In chapter two, the present study has argued that the nature and scope of the
questions scholars have asked have not sufficiently taken the nature of the data into
consideration. Therefore, the purpose of the present research has been to study the
function of the piel in Biblical Hebrew and to allow the data in the texts to determine
the extent to which conclusions are drawn. To achieve this, the forms of all verbs
attested in the piel were examined in the Biblical texts, with focus given to those
verbs that arc well attested. In addition, verbs that are used in the same contexts and
have overlapping senses were also grouped together and observations about the
function of the piel amongst the themes of the verbs are given where appropriate. The
presentation of this material is given in chapters three, four, and five.
The examination undertaken in this study has illustrated the fact that function
of the piel amongst the themes shows patterns of internal relationship that can be
described gencrally as 'complex active', and external relationships that overlap with
the function of the qal and hiphil forms white still being able to be distinct from them.
The study argues then in chapter six, that what the data presents of the verbal system
shows a language with both principles and structures of relationship as well as the
existence of overlap in function between elements in that structure. Thus, the
language contained in the data of the text bears its functions primarily in a manner
consistent with its use - it was 'lived in' for the purpose of communication.