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.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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