Rabbi David E. S. Stein David @ DavidESStein.name

Selected Publications Available Online

III. Hebrew Bible: Text, Translation, and Liturgical Use > Academic Papers


Angels by Another Name: How ‘Agency Metonymy’ Precludes God’s EmbodimentIdentifies an ancient Hebrew narrative convention to succinctly express endeavors that involve both a principal and an agent in the representational arrangement known as agency. (This convention, called agency metonymy, refers to both parties while naming only the principal. It is encoded via referential anomalies in the text.) Shows how, when, and why the text’s ancient audience would have decoded this convention by default, to construe a coherent narrative. Concludes that neither divine embodiment nor theophany can be the plain sense of episodes involving God’s agents.To be presented to the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures section of the Society of Biblical Literature, Nov. 2017. [PDF]


Agency: Making Sense of Anomalous Usages of the Hebrew Noun אישEmploys the cognitive-linguistic concept of “basic-level term” to explain the prevalence of איש in the Bible. Shows that איש meets the standard criteria for a basic-level term specifically within the cognitive domain of agency—that is, where one party represents the interests of another party. (As such, the noun איש would have been the first choice of label for use in agency contexts.) Shows how, after these linguistic concepts are invoked, many “odd” usages of איש become more meaningful.Narrated slide showPresented to the Biblical Lexicography section of the Society of Biblical Literature, Nov. 2015 [QuickTime Movie]


The Iceberg Effect: The Previously Unrecognized Role of Conventional Figures of Speech and Other Commonplaces in Biblical Depictions of God’s Operation via Agents, and Their English TranslationApplies cognitive linguistics to show that the ancient audience would not have construed biblical depictions of angels as literally as modern scholarly interpretations have assumed.Documented extensively with footnotes and 14 appendixesPresented to the “Metaphor Theory and the Hebrew Bible” section of the Society of Biblical Literature, Nov. 2015. [PDF with attached handout]

Meaningful Manipulations of Grammatical Gender: Explaining a Set of Exceptions to So-Called Masculine Precedence in Biblical HebrewExplores and explains the pragmatic (expressive) potential of the anomalous use of feminine syntactic gender, as employed in 19 biblical verses to designate characters.Narrated slide show (with accompanying handouts here and here)Presented to the Bible section of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew, Jun. 201223 minutes. [QuickTime Movie]

Improving an English Dictionary’s Characterization of the Gender Representation of Personal Nouns in Biblical HebrewIn order to convey referential gender accurately, a dictionary must categorize its treatment of “male” personal nouns according to the specificity of their referenceNarrated slide showPresented to the Biblical Lexicography section of the Society of Biblical Literature, Nov. 201119 minutes. [QuickTime Movie]

The (In)adequacy of ‘Man’ as an English Equivalent of the Biblical Hebrew Noun ’ishNarrated slide showPresented to the Bible Translation section of the Society of Biblical Literature, Nov. 200828 minutes. [QuickTime Movie]



Updated 20 October 2017Culver City, California, USA