The power of Semitic poetry stems, literally, from the functionality of its consonantal roots. With but three consonants, a long series of words, used in a specific way, set in a specific pattern, according to an ordained order and rhythm, can be carefully arranged so that even the sound of the words can be manipulated to conform to the author’s design. Classical Arabic and Hebrew poets have so much power to create this kind of literary structure, that the structure itself conveys meaning.
Once you understand Semitic functionality, the only obvious question is, “why wouldn’t the arrangement of biblical books work the same way?”
We struggle with this because we are Hellenists. Someone asks our opinion and we start talking about the words we form in our mind, which are based on other words in our mind. We converse with ourselves about our own philosophical abstractions and marvel at the imaginary connections we invent within our artificial systems. We make stuff up. The fancy word for that in academia is “interpretation.” If you really want to sound smart at coffee hour, call it, “hermeneutics.”
That’s why we are all naturally dubious about the significance of the order of books. Because everybody knows that interpretation is dubious. But functionality is not interpretation. What a functional element means can be discussed and debated, but the consonants and the structure itself are right there, alongside the earth mammals and the vegetation. No interpretation required.
Richard and Fr. Marc revisit Mark 1.
Episode 428 Mark 1; Music:
Tiki Bar Mixer by Kevin MacLeod