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

About the author(s)

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


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


Total abstract views: 4819
Total article views: 10370


Crossref Citations

1. An Overview of Biblical Hebrew Grammars and Current Trends in Research on Masoretic Accents
Lodewyk Sutton
Journal for Semitics  year: 2023  
doi: 10.25159/2663-6573/12565