Criswell Theological Review 2.1 (1987) 3-17

[Copyright © 1987 by Criswell College, cited with permission;

digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere]









Criswell College, Dallas, TX 75201


I. Introduction


Although English versions of the prophecy of Malachi divide the

book into four chapters, and the MT divides it into only three (4:1-6

counted as 3:19-24), commentators almost uniformly have settled on

a division into six units, referred to as oracles,l or disputations,2

followed by one or two epilogues or appendices (usually considered

to be later additions).3 As given by O. Eissfeldt, the units are as


1:2-5 Yahweh's love for Jacob

1:6-2:9 Reproach of the priests

2:10-16 Condemnation of divorce

2:17-3:5 Reply concerning divine retributions



1 W. Neil, "Malachi," IDB 3.228-32.

2 E. Pfeiffer, "Die Disputationsworte im Buche Maleachi," EvT 19 (1959) 546-68.

But cf. H. J. Boecker, "Bemerkungen zur formgeschichtlichen Terminologie des

Buches Maleachi," ZAW 78 (1966) 78-79, who prefers the term "discussion speech"

(Diskussionsworte), and A. Graffy, A Prophet Confronts His People (Rome: Biblical

Institute Press, 1984) 15-17, 22, who demonstrates that the dialogues in Malachi have a

different structure and aim than the genre "disputation."

3 B. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: For-

tress, 1979) 495-96.

4 O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (New York: Harper & Row,

1965) 441-42.

5 A few conclude this unit with 3:6. Cf. S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the

Literature of the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1913) 356; E. Achtemeier,

Nahum-Malachi (Atlanta: John Knox, 1986) 186; E. J. Young, An Introduction to the

Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 285; W. C. Kaiser, Jr., Malachi: God's

Unchanging Love (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984) 87-88, 116.


4                      CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW


3:6-12 Regarding the tithe

3:13-21 Regarding the day of judgment

3:22 Appendix: Exhortation to observe the Law

3:23-24 Appendix: Proclamation of Elijah to precede Yahweh


Though having an appeal on formalistic grounds,6 such an analysis

fails to appreciate and display whatever unity may exist in the book.

C. F. Keil attempted to indicate some unity by recognizing only three

sections following the introduction: 1:6-2:9 accuses the priests, 2:10-

16 accuses the people, and 2:11-4:6 promises blessings for the repen-

tant and warns the ungodly of judgment.7 E. J. Young identified only

two principal parts: chaps. 1-2 describe Israel's sin and apostasy, and

chaps. 3-4 the judgment and blessing.8 While not disputing that all

these units may exist in some sense in Malachi's discourse, I believe

that by subjecting it to a textlinguistic analysis on the model of R. E.

Longacre, a more unified, verifiable, and satisfying structure is pos-



II. Discourse Classification


The first step in such an analysis is to classify the discourse. This

has been a major emphasis of Longacre's work, who declares that


Characteristics of individual discourses can be neither described, pre-

dicted, nor analyzed without resort to a classification of discourse types.


6 Each of these units begins with questions and with what I am calling "pseudo-

dialogue," in which the author puts into words the attitudes of the hearers and then

responds to them (except in the third unit which begins with questions but the pseudo-

dialogue does not occur until 2:14).

7 C. F. Keil, The Twelve Minor Prophets (2 vols.; reprinted, Grand Rapjds:

Eerdmans, 1949) 2.427-28.

8 Young, Introduction, 285.

9 For a historical introduction to the fields of discourse analysis and textlinguis-

tics" cf. T. A. van Dijk, “Introduction: Discourse Analysis as a New Cross-Discipline,"

1.1-10 and R. de Beaugrande, "Text Linguistics in Discourse Studies," 1.41-70 both in

Handbook Discourse Analysis (3 vols.; ed. T. A. van Dijk; London: Harcourt Brace

Jonanovich, 1085). For a theoretical introduction, cf. R. de Beaugrande and W. Dress-

ler, Introduction to Text Linguistics (London: Longman, 1981); T. A. van Dijk, Text

and Context Explorations in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Discourse (London:

Longman, 1977); G. Brown and G. Yule, Discourse Analysis (Cambridge: University

Press, 1983); J. E. Grimes, The Thread of Discourse (Berlin: Mouton, 1975). For an

evangelical argument on the importance of textlinguistics for exegesis, cf. J. H. Sail-

hamer, "Exegesis of the Old Testament as a Text," A Tribute to Gleason Archer (ed.

W. C. Kaiser, Jr. and R. F. Youngblood; Chicago: Moody, 1986) 280-82. For the

textlinguistic model of Longacre, cf. especially R. E. Longacre, The Grammar of

Discourse (New York: Plenum, 1983); “The discourse structure of the Flood Narra-



It is pointless to look in a discourse for a feature which is not character-

istic of the type to which that discourse belongs.

So determinative of detail is the general design of a discourse type

that the linguist who ignores discourse typology can only come to


The strength of Longacre's system of discourse typology is its success-

ful use in analyzing texts in dozens of contemporary and ancient

languages. He classifies discourse on the basis of four pairs of

parameters: (1) agent vs. thematic orientation, (2) contingent temporal

succession vs. logical succession, (3) future orientation ("projection")

vs. present or past, and (4) the presence or absence of tension,

manifesting itself in plot, argument, or the overcoming of certain

obstacles.11 The first two pairs of parameters allow a distinction of

four basic discourse types: (1) narrative--agent orientation with con-

tingent temporal succession, (2) procedural--thematic orientation with

contingent temporal succession, (3) behavioral--agent orientation with

logical succession, and (4) expository--thematic orientation with

logical succession. Each of these categories may be further divided,

then, by means of the other parameters. A text, however, must be

understood on at least two levels--(l) the surface structures including

the author's choice of words and grammar and (2) the notional (deep

or semantic) structures including the author's purpose or intention for

the text. The classification of a discourse, therefore, must take both

levels into consideration, since it is possible for there to be disagree-

ment or "skewing" between the surface and notional structures of a

discourse. For example, an author may give advice (behavioral) in

the form of a story (narrative), or he may explain the nature of

something (expository) by describing how it is put together (pro-

cedural). There are a variety of reasons for such skewing in a dis-

course. Longacre suggests that drama (a surface structure type that is

simply an alternative way of telling a story) and narrative are the

discourse types ranked highest in vividness, which explains their


tive," JAAR 47 (1979) 89-133; "A Spectrum and Profile Approach to Discourse Analy-

sis," Text 1 (1981) 337-59; "Interpreting Biblical Stories," Discourse and Literature

(3 vols.; ed. T. A. van Dijk; Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1985) 3.83-98; Joseph: A

Story of Divine Providence (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, forthcoming).

10 Longacre, Grammar, 1. The term "discourse" is used in this paper to refer to

any linguistic utterance longer than a sentence which stands as a complete unified

meaningful unit of communication, whether written or oral, dialogue or monologue,

e.g., a play, a fairy tale, a sermon, a political speech, a telephone conversation, a TV

commercial, or a recipe.

11 Ibid., 3-10.


6                      CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW


popularity as a vehicle for encoding12 various notional structures.13 A

Sunday morning sermon, for example, tends to be rather dull if it

contains only expository or behavioral surface structures without some

narrative illustrations. Also, there are certain situations in which an

attempt to affect behavior will be more effective or more palatable if

it is mitigated, i.e., if it is made indirect by refraining from the use of

imperatives or other command forms.14 The prophet Nathan, for

instance, mitigates his rebuke of King David for his sin by the use of a

story in 2 Samuel 12.

Just as there are certain characteristic features that define an

object such as a chair (e.g., seat, back, legs), there are also features

that define a discourse type. According to Longacre, the notional

structure of a narrative, for example, consists of exposition, inciting

moment, developing conflict, climax, denouement, final suspense,

and conclusion.15 A hortatory discourse (a behavioral discourse type

with future orientation) such as the Book of Malachi, consists of the

essential features of problem, command, motivation, and authority.16

A text, that is, that attempts to affect the future behavior of someone

must state what situation or behavior needs to be affected (the prob-

lem), what action is required or recommended (the command), why

that action is necessary (the motivation), and why the addressee

should listen to the speaker (the authority). There is no definite order,

however, to hortatory structures. They may be, as they are in Malachi,

repetitive and recursive.

On the other hand, the classification of the surface structure of a

discourse is marked most prominently by the choice of verb forms.

The indicative simple past, for example, is the most prominent in an

English narrative, though we would expect the most prominent verb

forms in a hortatory discourse to be imperatives, jussives (third person

commands), and modals such as "should" and "ought." The book of

Malachi, however, is offered here as an example of a book clearly

hortatory in notional structure, yet in which there are only six com-

mand forms--two jussives and four imperatives (except for a jussive

in a quote--1:5, and two ironic jussives 1:8, 9). The majority of the


12 Linguists, especially sociolinguists, often use the term "code" to describe a

language. To "encode" means to express a particular meaning or notional structure by

a particular form or surface structure.

13 Longacre, Grammar, 10-13. Note the recent interest in "story theology"; cf.

P. W. Macky, "Biblical Story Theology," The Theological Educator 33 (1986) 22-32

and other articles in the same issue, and G. Fackre, The Christian Story: A Narrative

Interpretation of Basic Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978).

14 R. E. Longacre, "Exhortation and Mitigation in First John," Selected Technical

Articles Related to Translation 9 (1983) 3.

15 Longacre, Grammar, 22.

16 Longacre, "Exhortation," 3.




verbs in independent clauses (assumed to carry the major argument)

are perfects and imperfects. Much of the book, then, consists of

mitigated commands which serve to identify the text as hortatory.


III. Structure


The hortatory structure, authority of speaker, is encoded in

Malachi by the much repeated tvxbc hvhy rmx, “says Yahweh of

Hosts," alternating with hvhy rmx in four cases and lxrWy yhlx hvhy

rmx “says Yahweh the God of Israel," in one. The structure of the

book, however, may be analyzed by observing the hortatory struc-

tures of problem, command, motivation, resulting in three chiastic

movements or embedded discourses17 (cf. Structural Chart which






First Movement

 ¶MOTIVATION: Yahweh's Love                                1:2-5

PRIESTS EXHORTED  PROBLEM: Failure to Honor Yahweh                        1:6-9

TO HONOR                    COMMAND: Stop Vain Offerings                              1:10

YAHWEH 1:2-2:9          ¶PROBLEM: Profaning Yahweh's Name                      1:11-14

 ¶MOTIVATION: Results of Disobedience                    2:1-9


Second Movement

  ¶MOTIVATION: Spiritual Unity                                  2:10a, b

    PROBLEM: Faithlessness                                         2:10c-14

JUDAH EXHORTED       COMMAND: Stop Acting Faithlessly                         2:15-16

TO FAITHFULNESS     ¶PROBLEM: Complaints of Yahweh's                                     2:17

2:10-3:6                                     Injustice

    MOTlVATION: Coming Messenger of                      3:1-6



Third Movement

 ¶COMMAND: Return to Yahweh with                                     3:7-10a


JUDAH EXHORTED      MOTIVATlON: Future Blessing                                 3:10b-12

TO RETURN TO          ¶PROBLEM: Complacency toward Serving                   3:13-15

YAHWEH 3:7-4:6                     God

   MOTIVATION: The Coming Day                              3:16-4:3

 ¶COMMAND: Remember the Law                              4:4-6


¶= Indicates new paragraph.


17 Longacre, Grammar, 13-14.

8                      CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW


First Movement


It is only in view of the rest of the movement that the first

paragraph (1:2-5) may be seen as motivation. The thesis "I have

loved you" is stated first, and then the supporting evidence, consisting

of an embedded paragraph18 that contrasts Jacob and Esau. It is our

working hypothesis that the hvhy rmx clauses (including the variants

referred to above) are used in the book to mark prominence. In this

paragraph, the thesis is marked by this clause. The evidence for the

thesis is framed by the author's frequently-used literary device of

pseudo-dialogue introduced by Mtrmxv, "But you say."

The second paragraph (1:6-10) includes both the problem and

the command elements. The problem is expressed in the form of a

rhetorical question, "Where is my honor/fear?" in v 6 and is marked

by an hvhy rmx clause. We are to understand the problem, then, as

Judah's failure to honor/fear Yahweh. This rhetorical question func-

tions as the thesis, followed again by evidence presented in a pseudo-

dialogue introduced by Mtrmxv. There are two ironic imperatives in

this section, "Offer it to your governor" in v 8 and "Appease the face

of God" in v 9, both followed by condemning questions which are

also marked by hvhy rmx clauses. Furthermore, there is a vocative, “O

Priests," in this section which clearly identifies the audience of the

first movement and serves to mark off the movement by its recurrence

in the final motivation element in 2:1.

The command element, which is naturally the most prominent

element in a hortatory discourse, occurs in the center and, therefore,

the most prominent part of this first chiasm.19 It is actually a mitigated


18 A paragraph may be simplistically defined as a sequence of sentences marked

off by certain grammatical features (i.e., the use of particles, back reference, setting,

conclusion, etc.) and exhibiting thematic unity. The sentences within a paragraph will

display certain definable logical or temporal relations. To understand those relations it

will often be necessary to group sentences into what Longacre calls embedded para-

graphs. Cf. R. E. Longacre, "The Paragraph as a Grammatical Unit," Discourse and

Syntax (Syntax and Semantics 19/12; ed. Talmy Givon; Academic, 1979) 115-34; “An

Apparatus for the Identification of Paragraph Types," Notes on Linguistics 15 (July,

1980) 5-22. For some information on paragraph marking in biblical Hebrew, though

primarily for narrative, cf. F. I. Andersen, The Sentence in Biblical Hebrew (The

Hague: Mouton, 1974) 64-66; and R. Buth, “An Introductory Study of the Paragraph

Structure of Biblical Hebrew Narrative" (M.A. thesis, The American Institute of Holy

Land Studies, 1976).

19 There is a difference between natural and marked prominence. The result

element of a sentence, for example, is naturally more prominent than the reason

element, just as red is more prominent than green. In the same way, the command

element is the most prominent element of a hortatory discourse. In addition, every




command expressed by an imperfect of wish, "O that there were

someone even among you who would close the gates!" There is some

irony here since this is not really the behavioral change Yahweh is

aiming for. The implication is clear that what Yahweh desires is the

priests' honor/fear manifested in proper sacrifices from a pure heart.

It is interesting to note the discourse strategy of the author in reserving

direct commands until late in the discourse. The hvhy rmx clause in

this element marks the reason for the command, the existential clause

in v 10, "I have no pleasure in you." Its prominence, which does not

exceed that of the mitigated command, may result from its use to

mark the turning point in the chiasm, a fact indicated by the para-

phrase that occurs in the next clause, "and an offering I will not be

pleased with from your hand."

The third paragraph (1:11-14) consists of the second problem

element which serves to elaborate the first one. Closure is achieved in

the paragraph by the repetition of references in vv 11, 14 to the name

of Yahweh among the nations. These clauses are marked for promi-

nence by hvhy rmx clauses since they serve as the thesis in a contrast

paragraph whose idea is that although Yahweh will be feared among

the nations, Judah is profaning him. Proof or explanation is again

offered by a pseudo-dialogue introduced by Mtrmxv in v 13. The

result that Israel's behavior has on Yahweh is also marked as promi-

nent in this paragraph, First, he is enraged, and second, he is not

pleased (v 13).

The final slot in the chiastic first movement--the second moti-

vation element--is filled by a rather complex paragraph (2:1-9)

introduced by htfv "and now;" and beginning with the topicalizing

clause, "This is my decree20 for you, O priests." The decree which

immediately follows is a conditional sentence in which the conse-

quence of the priests' disobedience is given, "then I will send upon

you the curse" (v 2). This must be taken as the thesis of the paragraph,

followed by an elaboration in which Yahweh speaks in the first of five


language has an inventory of linguistic features by which it may mark prominence.

Either the naturally prominent element may also be marked for prominence as in this

passage, or an element lower in natural prominence may be raised (by a chiastic

arrangement, for example, or an hvhy rmx clause) so that it is equal to or almost equal

to the naturally prominent element. Cf. J. Beekman, J. Callow, and M. Kopesec, The

Semantic Structure of Written Communication (Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics,

1981) 109-10, 119-20.

20 "Decree" is a better translation of hvcm in this context than the more customary

"commandment" since no explicit commandment is given here; cf. Nah 1:14 for this

use. For an explanation of the linguistic feature of topicalization, cf. Grimes, Thread of

Discourse, 337-44.



hnh ("Behold!") clauses (v 3) that occur in the book, each of which

gives prominence to what he is declaring about the future.

2:3--"Behold! I am about to rebuke your seed."

3:1--"Behold! I am sending my messenger.

. . . Behold! He is coming."

4:1--"For behold! The day is coming. . ."

4:5--"Behold! I am sending to you Elijah the prophet. . ."

He then states the results of his future actions, "and you shall know

that I have sent you this decree to be my covenant with Levi" (v 4),

followed by an elaboration upon the covenant in an embedded para-

graph where he contrasts Levi with the contemporary priests (vv 5-

9). Note that both the first and last slots of the first movement contain

embedded paragraphs where a contrast is made, the scope of the

second (contemporary priests and Levi) being more narrow than that

of the first (the nation of Israel and the Edomites). The slot is

understood as motivation (1) because of the series of grammatical

perfects in the thesis expressing the consequences of disobedience

and (2) because of the hnh clause which consistently in the book

signals motivation based upon the future (occurring each time with a

participle). The clauses marked by hvhy rmx are (1) the conditional

clause in the thesis in v 2, (2) the result of Yahweh's curse (v 4), and

(3) the antithesis in the contrast paragraph, "But you turned aside

from my way" (v 8). Though motivation is most prominent in "the

paragraph, the initial condition in v 2 is certainly a mitigated com-

mand, as is the contrast with Levi whose faithfulness is highlighted in

vv 5-7. The dependent yk ("for") clauses which comprise v 7 contain

two modal imperfects stating what a priest should do, "For the lips of

a priest should guard knowledge, and instruction they should seek

from his mouth." Furthermore, there is a reference to the problem in

the antithesis in vv 8-9, "But you turned aside from the way." The

fact that this paragraph is so notionally "packed," uses the prominent

hnh clause, and is so grammatically complex, may indicate that it is

the climax, emotional high point, or what Longacre calls the "peak"

of the surface structure of the first movement.21


21 The "peak" of a discourse is the section at which the discourse reaches the

highest level of tension or cruciality such as generally occurs at the climax or resolution

of a narrative. It is a term that describes the surface structures of the discourse and will

be marked by certain surface features peculiar to the language. Longacre has compiled

an inventory, however, of the various ways languages mark peak, especially in nar-

rative: (1) rhetorical underlining, (2) concentration of participants, (3) heightened

vividness, (4) change of pace, (5) change of vantage point and (6) use of special

particles or onomatopoeia. Longacre, Grammar, 24-38; "Discourse Peak as Zone of

Turbulence," Beyond the Sentence: Discourse and Sentential Form (ed. Jessica Wirth;

Ann Arbor: Karoma, 1985) 83-98; “A Spectrum and Profile Approach to Discourse

Analysis," 347-58.

Clendenen: THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI                  11


The theme or "macrostructure"22 of this first movement must be

expressed in terms of the three elements of problem, command and


Problem: The failure of the priests to honor/fear Yahweh ex-

hibited by their faithlessness regarding the covenant of Levi,

particularly in their careless attitude to the offerings.

Command: Honor Yahweh with pure offerings and upright


Motivation: Yahweh's demonstrated love for Israel and the future

humiliation of those who refuse to respond.


Second Movement

The first three slots of the second movement are all encoded in

one paragraph (2:10-16). It begins with three rhetorical questions, the

first two of which fill the motivation slot and serve as the premise on

which the third question is based.

"Is there not one father to us all?"

"Is there not one God who created us?"

"Why do we treat faithlessly each his brother?"

The third question is a mitigated command for which the first two are

the motivation. It actually introduces the problem slot, however,

since it is restated as the declaration in v 11 that "Judah dealt faith-

lessly." This charge is explained and elaborated upon in the rest of

the problem slot (vv 10c-14), including another pseudo-dialogue in

v 14. Closure is marked at the beginning and end of the problem slot

by repetition of the verb dgb, "treat faithlessly." There is another

mitigated command in v 12 expressed as a curse upon those who

marry "the daughter of a foreign god."

The beginning and end of the command slot in 2:15-16 are

marked by command forms of dgb, preceded by the waw consecutive

perfect of rmw.

So guard yourselves in your spirit

and let him stop treating faithlessly the wife of your youth

for He hates divorce,

says Yahweh the God of Israel,

and him (who) covers his garment with violence,

says Yahweh of Hosts.

22 I am using the term macrostructure to refer to the "germinal idea" or message

of the text, its "overall meaning and plan" which exercises a selective control on what is

included and how it is presented; cf. Longacre, "A Spectrum and Profile Approach to

Discourse Analysis," 337. There may be a foregrounded or given macrostructure, as in

Gen 45:5-7; 50:20; and John 20:30-31, in addition to one that is backgrounded or

deduced; cf. van Dijk, Text and Context, 143-48.



So guard yourselves in your spirit

and stop acting faithlessly.

The two commands also enclose hvhy rmx clauses which leaves the

clause "and him (who) covers his garment with violence" in the

center and most prominent position of a chiasm.23 The structure

functions like the paraphrase in the command slot in the first move-

ment in 1:10 to mark the turning point in the whole chiastic second


The rest of the second movement is also found in a single

paragraph (2:17-3:6), though here it is pseudo-dialogue and must be

analyzed differently than a monologue paragraph. A simple dialogue

paragraph will begin with an initiating utterance (= IU, an utterance

being the continuous words of a single speaker), which may consist

of a question, a proposal, or a remark. The IU will then be concluded

by a resolving utterance (= RU) consisting of an answer, a response,

or an evaluation, respectively. Most dialogues, however, are not

simple. In a complex dialogue paragraph the IU is followed not by a

R U but by a continuing utterance (= CU) which may be a counter-

question, a counter-proposal, or a counter-remark, which may be

followed by another CU and another, perhaps with no RU at all.24

According to this model, Mal 2:17-3:6 may be analyzed as a complex

dialogue paragraph as follows:

IU (remark):                           "You have wearied Yahweh with your

words." v 17a I

CU (counter-question):        "How have we wearied (him)?" v 17b

RU (answer):                         "When you say

IU (remark):                           “’All who do evil are good in the eyes of

   Yahweh and in them he takes pleasure.'

    v 17c

(question):                             or 'Where is the God of justice'" v 17d

RU (answer):                         "Behold, I am sending my

    messenger. . . and suddenly the Lord

    whom you seek will come to his

    temple. . . ." 3:1

Note that the RU of the complex dialogue consists of an embedded

simple dialogue. The problem slot of the discourse is filled by all the

paragraph except for the RU of the embedded simple dialogue (3:1-


23 For an interpretation of tpis difficult clause, cf. Kaiser, Malachi, 73-74; Achte-

meier, Nahum-Malachi, 183. In addition, note the phonological similarity between dg,B,

"garment" and dgaBA. For an argument in favor of a literal rather than cultic interpre-

tation of 2:10-16, cf. R. Smith, Micah-Malachi (Waco: Word, 1984) 322-24.

24 Longacre, Grammar, 43-53.



6), Yahweh's answer, itself an embedded paragraph filling the motiva-

tion slot. The motivation for obedience is here declared to be the

coming of the messenger of the covenant who will come in judgment

"like a burning fire" (3:2). The declaration of his coming in 3:1 is

highly marked by the twofold use of hnh ("Behold!") at the beginning

and end of the verse, and by the chiastic repetition:

He will come to his temple

the Lord whom you seek,

and the messenger of the covenant in which you delight

behold! he will come.

The declaration is followed, of course, by tvxbc hvhy rmx in v 1,

which also concludes and, therefore, encloses the motivation section

in 3:5 (v 6 is a dependent clause subordinate to the first two clauses of

v 5). Because of the highly marked nature of the final slot of the

second movement, I suggest that as in the first movement, so here the

concluding motivation slot is the peak or climax of the movement.

In summary, the macrostructure of the second movement may

be stated thus:

Problem: Indifferent toward the will of Yahweh (2:17), the men

of Judah are treating one another faithlessly, especially their

wives, and are profaning the temple by marrying pagan


Command: Stop acting faithlessly.

Motivation: The spiritual unity of God's people and the fact that

the Messenger of the covenant is coming to refine the sons

of Levi and the people with fire.


Third Movement

The order of the notional slots in the third movement (3:7-4:6) is

rearranged so that the command elements, naturally prominent, are

on the outside and the problem element is marked as prominent by

being placed in the center of the chiasm. The reason for this is most

probably that the prophet wants to conclude his discourse on the

naturally prominent note--the command. The very fact that this

movement concludes the discourse, as well as its being uniquely

arranged and having two command elements make it most likely that

it is the peak, or most prominent section of the whole discourse.

Furthermore, like the last slot of the first movement, the first slot of

the third, which is encoded in a single paragraph, is "packed." All

four elements, in fact, are neatly expressed in 3:7 as nowhere else--

Problem: "Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from

my statutes and you have not kept (them).

Command: "Return to me,



Motivation: "and I will return to you."

Authority: says Yahweh of hosts.

This verse, however, is understood as introducing the command

element (vv 7-10a) because of the natural prominence of this first

imperative, because it is to this command that the response is made

in the following pseudo-dialogue, and because another imperative

concludes the paragraph in v 10a, "Bring all the tithe into the store-

house." This last command summarizes the sentences in vv 8-9 which

elaborate on the command to return. Their return is to manifest itself

in bringing to Yahweh the tithes they have been withholding.

The motivation slot in vv 10b-12 looks at first like part of the

command because of the imperative in v 10b, "Test me." However, it

is clear from what follows that this is only a rhetorical device to

introduce what Yahweh will do for Israel if they will return, which is

motivation. It is interesting to note that there are three hvhy rmx

clauses in each of these final motivation sections. In this first section

the positive statement of Yahweh's blessing in v 10 is so marked, then

the negative statement of blessing in v 11, "I will rebuke for you the

devourer," and finally the result in v 12, "and all the nations (cf. 1:11)

shall call you fortunate (rwx)." Note the contrast here with the future

of Edom (1:4), which will be called hfwr lvbg "the region of guilt"

(cf. the use of fwr, in 4:3).

The next paragraph of the book fills the next two slots, in 3:13-

4:3. As in each of the other problem slots, this last one in the center of

the chiasm (3:13-15) is expressed in pseudo-dialogue (which, there-

fore, is not being used to mark a separate oracle but a particular

notional structure). The problem is that Judah has responded to their

difficulties by concluding that it is vain to serve God (v 14a), since

their obedience has brought no fcb "profit'" (v 14b), while it is the

arrogantly wicked (Mydz. . . .hvwr ywf) who are called fortunate (rwx)

in v 15 (cf. v 12), since they have tested God (cf. v 10) and escaped.

The final motivation slot (3:16-4:3) is marked as such by the use of

waw consecutive perfects expressing the future (e.g., yl vyhv "and

they shall be mine," Mhylf ytlmHv "and I will take pity upon them" in

v 17) as well as the hnh clause with the participle in 4:1, "For behold!

the day is coming burning like a furnace. . . ." It is interesting to note

at this point that in each of the previous movements the first motiva-

tion element is positive, reminding the hearers of the past favor of

God. Each of the second motivation elements, however, is negative,

warning the hearers of the consequences of disobedience. Similarly,

the first motivation element in this final movement is positive, focus-

ing though on how Yahweh will reward obedience in the future. This

concluding motivation element, also focusing on the future, com-



bines, however, both the positive (3:16-17, 4:2-3) and the negative

(3:18-4:1, 4:3), the latter being sandwiched by the former, then the

two mixed together in the last verse,

And you (fearers of Yahweh) shall tread down the guilty ones (Myfwr),

for they will be dust under the soles of your feet on the day which I am

preparing, says Yahweh of hosts.


It is the center of the sandwich, the negative motivation in 3:18-4:1,

that is marked by hnh in 4:1 and is, therefore, the most prominent

element in the motivation slot. The first of the three hvhy rmx clauses

in this final motivation element (see the comment on 3:10b-l2 above)

marks a clause in the first positive part, "and they shall be mine," in

3:17. The second one marks a clause in the central negative portion,

"and the coming day shall burn them," in 4:1, and the last marks the

final sentence in 4:3 quoted above.

The final slot is encoded in a concluding paragraph and is am-

biguously marked by both an imperative, "Remember the Law of

Moses," and by a hnh clause, "Behold! I am going to send to you

Elijah the prophet." Since an imperative is the highest ranking verb in

a hortatory text, however, the last three verses must be identified as

command, though containing, as does the first slot of the movement,

a motivation element as well--in this case the last two verses. Both of

the command elements in this movement, then, manifest certain

"turbulent" features that may be considered to mark the peak.

The last movement is sandwiched not only by commands, but

also by the use of the verb bvw "turn, return" in 3:7 and 4:6. The verb

also occurs in 1:4 as does also fwr, a frequent word in the third

movement, and Mfz "curse," a synonym of Mrx in 3:9 and of MrH in

4:6. Another inclusion in the book is the reference to honoring or

fearing Yahweh or his name in 1:6, 14, and 2:1, then in 3:16, 4:2. The

macrostructure of the third movement may be expressed as follows:

Problem: Judah's complacency toward obeying and serving God.

Command: Return to Yahweh by remembering the law of Moses

and bringing the tithes.

Motivation: A day is coming when Yahweh will distinguish

between the obedient and the wicked by blessing those who

fear him and judging the wicked.



Considering the macrostructures of the three movements, the

particular weight of the third movement, the historical situation as we

know it (known sometimes as the "communication situation") and the

fact that the prophet begins by addressing the priests and concludes



by addressing the people, the following macrostructure may be sug-

gested for the whole discourse:

Problem: The failure of the priests of Judah to fear Yahweh

during difficult times has resulted in the people's indifference

to the will of Yahweh.

Command: The priests are to begin honoring Yahweh with pure

offerings and upright service and the people are to honor

him by remembering his law, by honoring their marital

commitments, and by bringing their tithes to the temple.

Motivation: Yahweh's demonstrated love for Israel, the spiritual

unity of God's people, and the coming day of blessing for

those who fear him and judgment for those who are in-

different to his will.


IV. Conclusion


The book of Malachi gives us a good example, I believe, of a

hortatory text which, because of the use of mitigation, does not

require many explicit commands. The fact that the commands be-

come more explicit toward the end is what we might expect as

mitigation becomes less necessary as the argument proceeds.

Even more interesting, however, is the demonstration that this

book offers of the validity of the hortatory structures: problem, com-

mand, motivation, and authority of the speaker. Not only are the slots

present in abundance, but they are found in a very intricately arranged

pattern. This also indicates the importance (if such indication is

necessary) of classifying texts, for without an initial tentative clas-

sification of this text as hortatory, this arrangement of structures

would have been missed.

Finally, the results of this procedure indicate the inadequacy of

an analysis of texts based solely on surface features. My own previous

understanding of the structure of Malachi, in accordance with all the

commentaries I have examined, was very different. Though a metho-

dology of text analysis based solely on notional structures would also

be inadequate, both methods may be used together as controls on

each other with fruitful results. Such a textlinguistic approach also

serves as a control on computer studies such as that of Radday and

Pollatschek who argue that chap. 3 (and chap. 4 in English versions)

was originally independent,25 as well as on form-critical studies that


25 V. T. Radday and M. A. Pollatschek, "Vocabulary Richness in Post-Exilic

Prophetic Books," ZAW 92 (1980) 333-46.

Clendenen: THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI                  17


have concluded that 4:3-6 is a later addition.26 The former viewpoint

would destroy the unity of the second movement, and the latter

would destroy that of the third.


26 Smith, Micah-Malachi, 340-41 considers the verses to comprise two appendices

and declares that 4:4 is "unrelated to anything that has gone before" and is, therefore,

"probably an editorial addition by the redactor of the Book of the Twelve." The same

evaluation is implied of 4:5-6 based on a different role assigned the coming messenger

from that in 3:1 and a different term used of the coming day. But is it not by affecting

the hearts of the people (4:6) that the messenger would prepare the way for Yahweh

(3:1)? This is how the ministry of John the Baptist is interpreted in the NT (cf. Mark

1:2-8). Furthermore, is it unreasonable to allow the prophet to conclude his book by

making explicit the identification of that day he has described simply as "coming" with

the well-known day of judgment and vindication, "the day of Yahweh," prophesied





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