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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Expect the Unexpected: Aspects of Pragmatic Foregrounding in Old Testament Narratives
Cotrozzi, Stefano

New York: T&T Clark, 2010 pp. xviii + 290. $120.00

Series Information
Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 510


Description: This monograph on biblical linguistics is a highly specialized, pragmatic investigation of the controversial question of 'foregrounding' - the deviation from some norm or convention - in Old Testament narratives. The author presents and examines the two main sources of pragmatic foregrounding: events or states deviating from well-established schemata, structures of reader expectation that can be manipulated by the narrator to highlight specific 'chunks' of discourse; and evaluative devices, which are used by the narrator to indicate to the reader the point of the story and direct its interpretation. Cotrozzi critiques the particular evaluative device known as the 'historic present', a narrative strategy that employs the present tense to describe past event. He tests two main theories that support this device by using a cross-linguistic model of the historical present drawing upon a variety of languages. Cotrozzi ultimately refutes these theories with a thorough examination and detailed refutation. He concludes with a study of a particular Hebraic verb as a particular marker of represented perception, a technique whereby the character's perceptions are expressed directly from its point of view. Over the last 30 years this pioneering series has established an unrivaled reputation for cutting-edge international scholarship in Biblical Studies and has attracted leading authors and editors in the field. The series takes many original and creative approaches to its subjects, including innovative work from historical and theological perspectives, social-scientific and literary theory, and more recent developments in cultural studies and reception history.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Literature

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Review by Philip Nel
Published 4/8/2011
Citation: Philip Nel, review of Stefano Cotrozzi, Expect the Unexpected: Aspects of Pragmatic Foregrounding in Old Testament Narratives, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2011).


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