“Word Play” in Qoheleth

Scott B. Noegel

Abstract


This study offers a comprehensive treatment of the subject
of “word play” in the book of Qoheleth. After discussing the problematic nature
of the term “word play,” and explaining my preference for the word “punning,” I
examine six different types of punning found in Qoheleth. The first, focuses on
alliteration, or the repeated use of consonants. The second section collects
examples of assonance, or the repeated use of vowel patterns. The third section
focuses on illustrations of polysemy; cases in which words bear more than one
meaning in a single context. The fourth section, which is related to polysemy,
details cases of antanaclasis. Antanaclasis occurs when a word is used multiple
times, but with different meanings. In the fifth section, I provide examples of
allusive punning, i.e., the use of words or forms that imply by way of
similarity of sound another word that does not occur in the text. The sixth
section is devoted to instances of numerical punning. After providing the data
for each of these devices, I offer some general observations on punning in
Qoheleth.

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