Friday, March 03, 2023

Position of power

These episodes [between Ruth and Naomi] demonstrate the way of indicating the speaker that is characteristic for the rhetoric of biblical narrative: the participant whose request, proposal or command prevails is mentioned by name or title, whereas the identity of the participant who complies is not indicated explicitly. In other words, the narrator uses the reference to the different parties in the exchange in order to point to their position in the interaction. This aspect of reference reflects “positioning,” which in social psychology and discourse analysis indicates “the assignment, shaping and negotiations of reciprocal relations between all parties involved in the interaction” (Weizman 2008: 16), in particular with regard to the social and emotional stances that individuals take vis-a-vis real or imagined others (Harré and van Langenhove 1999; Harré et al. 2009; Du Bois 2007). This concept has been introduced into narrative theory by Michael Bamberg (1997) and David Herman (2009: 55-63); in biblical context it has been used by Victor Matthews (2008: 101-7). For narrative theory this means the molding of internal “qualities” and “place in society” of the various characters by the narrator, through the interaction as it is shaped. The narrator marks the position he grants to the parties in the negotiation process, as successful and persuasive, or as doing concessions, as obeying and as failing to achieve intended aims.—Frank Polak, "Postioning, and the Pragmatics of Biblical Narrative," in Advances in Biblical Hebrew Linguistics, 161–62

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