Sophia L. Pitcher

Published On


Page Range

pp. 273–323


  • English

Print Length

51 pages

Emerging from Silos of Analysis: A Complexity Theory Approach to the Study of Biblical Texts

Chapter of: Linguistic Theory and the Biblical Text(pp. 273–323)
This chapter surveys a Complexity Theory (CT) approach applied in five areas of biblical scholarship: diachrony, language pedagogy, translation theory, syntax, and the Masoretic accents of the Hebrew Bible. A complexity approach to linguistic theory foremostly recog-nises that language is a complex system and accordingly aims to situate a particular subject of study within a context that more closely resembles the complex interactions of various dimensions of the system. CT is different from the other linguistic theories present-ed in this volume in that it functions as a metatheory. An under-standing of the general principles of CT can mitigate an inclination toward reductionist analysis and enable researchers to perceive fundamental properties and interactions of language phenomena that remain opaque to traditional theoretical frameworks. While an understanding of CT may not be necessary in order to appropriately account for the phenomena of complex systems, this metatheory can provide a helpful perspective for the scholar or practitioner, transforming an analysis via the questions it raises, the manner in which answers to these questions are pursued, and the conclusions ultimately drawn. A brief overview of CT is provided with particular attention to its application in the field of linguistics. Key words: Complexity Theory, complex systems, linguistics, bibli-cal studies


Sophia L. Pitcher

Research Fellow at University of the Free State
Adjunct Professor of Classical Hebrew at North Central University

Sophia L. Pitcher (PhD, University of the Free State, 2020) is a Research Fellow at University of the Free State, an Adjunct Professor of Classical Hebrew at North Central University, and in her capacity with SIL International serves as an exegetical advisor to the South African Sign Language Bible Translation Project. Her doctoral thesis, ‘A Prosodic Model for Tiberian Hebrew: A Complexity Approach to the Features, Structures, and Functions of the Masoretic Cantillation Accents’, integrates the characteristic features of the ṭaʿămē hammiqrå̄ and presents an analysis of the orthography using the theoretical framework of prosodic phonology. Her publications include ‘Towards a Prosodic Model for Tiberian Hebrew: An Intonation-based Analysis’ (Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 2021) and ‘The Medieval Prosodic Orthography of the Tiberian Masoretic Reading Tradition’ (Journal of Semitic Studies, 2023).