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Frequently Asked Questions

What is literary structure?

Please see outline explanation about literary structure.

How to extract literary structures? Automatically?

Although most of corresponding elements in Biblical literary structures are composed of same words pairs, there are many other types of corresponding pairs which don't include same words (e.g. same theme, similar concepts, or repeated text style). Therefore automatic detection and extraction for literary structures is difficult based on word level natural language processing techniques. At first I have tried automatic detection but it wasn't succeeded. Therefore the whole analysis about literary structures were done manually. It took ten years.

Isn't those structures arbitrary? Are those depended on individual interpretation?

To tell the truth, the criteria and methodologies for literary structures are different for each researcher. Therefore the structures on this web site are one of those many hypotheses.
My assumption is that there would be unified, regular, or systematic manner about literary structures in the Bible. I had analyzed literary structures in Gospel of Mark at first as a trial, and I found pericope may be important unit for literary structures. After that, I focused on literary structures which are composed of pericopes, and finally I have found systematic structures in every books of the Bible.
However, it can be possible to divide text arbitrary in order to match some literary structures. Moreover frequently appeared words can easily make text pairs in everywhere. Therefore I have checked statistical validity of my hypothesis by counting possibility of corresponding rare words in the texts, and also I have checked validity of pericope divisions by comparing those of several famous English translations. As a result, long literary structures (including more than 49 elements) on this web site have statistical significance. (It is theoretically difficult to evaluate validity of short literary structures.)

How can I analyze literary structures in the Bible?

With respect to language, original Greek and Hebrew text (major critical text) are better to analyze the literary structures in the Bible. There is no perfect translation.
If you are not good at Greek and Hebrew (I am not either), interlinear mode in Biblical softwares (e.g. BibleWorks) are recommended.

The way I have been adopted in order to analyze literary structures is below:
1. Investigating roughly corresponding themes, words, and phrases within the largest (including some whole one book of the Bible) literary structure. Starting from the correspondences between the beginning and the ending, shifting inside little by little and finally finding the center of that book.
2. Investigating roughly the divisions of pericopes along to the entire literary structure. In this stage, each pericope should include some corresponding themes, words, and phrases. Moreover, each pericope should corresponds opposite pericope (The first to the last, the second to the second from the last ...). Those divisions should match to some narratological gap (Changing of time, place, characters, themes, or narrative tones ...).
3. Analyzing internal structure of each pericopes. Also comparing with traditional general divisions of pericopes. If those analysis have been done successfully, the other parallel structures naturally become clear.

Why did you analyzed literary structures in the Bible?

With respect to motivation of my research, at first, I have searched some clue to determine the interpretation of the Bible. You know, there are many different interpretations for even one simple pericope. I assumed that the Bible writers probably left some explicit clue in order to avoid misreading. I thought literary structures are very explicit and they can signify the central theme. Therefore I began to develop database for literary structures.
However, I understood soon that the criteria for literary structures are different for each researcher. Moreover, I could not found any research result which deal with the whole Bible.
If each pericope or some story section have individually different style of literary structures, posterior readers could not identify collectlly. Because there would be countless possibilities about hypothesis of literary structures. I thought that at least one book should have some unified style for literary structure. Moreover, for readability, whole books of the Bible might share some unified style. Then I started analyzing literary structures by myself thoroughly by utilizing in one unified criteria.