Master's Theses

Date of Award

Summer 1962

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Sam M. Hamilton


This thesis concerns a study of the epistle to the Romans in light of the ancient Jewish poetical trait of parallelism. The intent is to show the influence of this poetical trait in Paula’s most systematic prose writing. No consideration of theological issues is taken up, for the study is conducted on a strict literary basis. Examples of parallelism are quoted from the American Standard Version and are written in such a way as to show the coextension of ideas. In the eighteenth century, Bishop Lowth finally saw through the strict prose printing of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. This discovery is discussed as it pertains to the intent of the thesis. His lectures of Hebrew poetry are indeed epochmaking and have an important place in any consideration of Hebrew parallelism. John Forbes, who recognized the presence of parallelism in New Testament writers is also given a great deal of consideration. The entire epistle to the Romans has not been exhausted. Dispersed examples of parallelisms from the various chapters are called to the reader’s attention and commented on. The fourth chapter of Romans is treated in great detail to show that the Hebrew influence on Paul was pronounced enough to make parallelism the characteristic trait of this letter. Any of the sixteen chapters could have been used to illustrate the same point. Types of parallelism are unfamiliar to most students of literature, therefore great care is devoted to an explanation of synonymous, synthetic and antithetic parallelism. These three major types are often used in a specific form called “inversion”. Paula’s use of inverted parallelism is profuse and an extended explanation utilizing examples from both the Old and New Testament is given. The metaphoric element of the Hebrew language is important is understanding their use of parallelism. This element is discussed in relation to the correspondence of ideas. To simplify understanding and explanation of the various strophes, tristich (three clauses), tetrastichs (four clauses), pentastich (five clauses), and hexastich (six clauses) are used to define certain parts of long passages. For instance, eleven lines may be quoted from the Old Testament; the explanation of these lines may be quoted from the Old Testament; the explanation of these lines may first of all involve the first pentastich (the first five lines) and later, the concluding hexastich (six lines). The reader will notice the strong element of antithetical parallelism. Often, diatribes are the mode used to express antithetical ideas; at other times, Paul will begin a long discourse and write strophe after strophe of antithesis. Certainly, Paul can be understood, admired and enjoyed to a greater degree, if one is familiar with this very definite characteristic of his writings: that of parallelism.


Copyright 1962 Paul M. Biays


Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code).