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"As the Lord Lives and as Your Soul Lives": An Oath of Conscious Deference

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image of Vetus Testamentum

The biblical oath has a particular formulation which juxtaposes it to a phrase containing the word and a reference to the party addressed. In my examination of this variant, I have attempted to demonstrate that this oath formula is a conscious expression of deference in a situation which necessitates this type of expression. Occasions in which an inferior party does not employ this formula may also be regarded as a deliberate flouting of the customary oath-formula, which should be understood as part of the message of the narrative. It may be concluded generally that oaths are carefully chosen and formulated to express central themes and ideas within the context of the narrative. By paying careful attention to oaths and their formulations, biblical passages can come into focus, revealing the rich subtext of the narrative.

Affiliations: 1: Gush Etzion, Israel


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