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Hapax Legomena and the Idiolect of John

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AbstractThe present contribution treats hapax legomena in the Fourth Gospel. The author presents three important findings. First, John has few hapaxes in his gospel (84) and only five hapaxes are unique (i.e. these words are mainly used after the composition of the Fourth Gospel). Second, the presence of hapaxes could be an indicator of orality and memory. Third, in several instances John uses hapaxes in conjunction with repetitions in two ways: 1) In John 2:14-16; 12:14; 18:3; 19:39-40 a hapax is followed by a (more) common word that belongs to the same semantic domain as the hapax. The common word repeats and clarifies the meaning of the hapax to the audience; 2) In John 4:7, 11, 15, 20-24; 9:1-2, 6, 8; 11:11-13; 13:5 a hapax is created by means of a stem-related word. The alteration between repetition and hapaxes helps the audience to focus on the narrative and follow the line of thought.

Affiliations: 1: Washington D.C.


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