Parataxis in the Book of Genesis

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines parataxis as follows: “The placing together of sentences, clauses, or phrases without a conjunctive word.” The dictionary provides a classical example of parataxis: “I came—I saw—I conquered.”

In her article on parataxis, “There’s Parataxis, and Then There’s Hypotaxis,” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Constance Hale writes that “parataxis can also lead to a sense of things piling up, a rush of ideas, a fast-moving narrative.”

As an example of parataxis in the Bible, Hale cites Genesis 1:3: “And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

In one of the comments made by readers of the article, a reader named Grover Jones writes: “The original Hebrew of ‘And God said . . .’ exhibits even more parataxis.  It’s something like ‘Be light; was light.’”

I am not a grammarian, but it would be interesting if someone could study the book of Genesis and list all the parataxes present in the book.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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