Original Research - Special Collection: James Alfred Loader Dedication

Reading Habakkuk 3 in the light of ancient unit delimiters

Gert T.M. Prinsloo
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1975 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.1975 | © 2013 Gert T.M. Prinsloo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 April 2013 | Published: 05 August 2013

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Gert T.M. Prinsloo, Department of Ancient Languages, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Habakkuk 3 is one of the most controversial texts in the Hebrew Bible. Diverging opinions have been expressed on literally every facet of the text. Quite surprising though, interpreters are virtually unanimous in their opinion about the structure of the pericope. Apart from a superscript (3:1) and subscript (3:19b) four units are normally demarcated: a prayer (3:2), a theophany (3:3–7), a hymn (3:8–15) and a confession of trust (3:16–19a). Unit delimiters in ancient Hebrew manuscripts demarcate two (3:1–13 and 3:14–19) or three (3:1–7; 3:8–13; 3:14–19) units. This study evaluates this evidence and reads Habakkuk 3 in the light of the units demarcated in ancient manuscripts. It raises awareness of interesting structural patterns in the poem, calls for a rethinking of traditional form critical categories, and opens avenues for an alternative understanding of the pericope.


Habakkuk 3; Unit Delimitation; structural patterns; Hebrew manuscripts


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