Criswell Theological Review 2.1 (1987) 3-17
[Copyright © 1987 by
digitally prepared for use at
THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI:
A TEXTLINGUISTIC STUDY
E. RAY CLENDENEN
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 -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 (
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 (
tress, 1979) 495-96.
4 O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (
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
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, -
16 accuses the people, and -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
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 ).
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
(3 vols.; ed. T. A. van Dijk;
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 (
1977); G. Brown and G. Yule, Discourse
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-
Clendenen: THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI 5
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
vols.; ed. T. A. van Dijk;
Story of Divine
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.
Clendenen: THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI 7
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.
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
STRUCTURAL CHART OF MALACHI
¶MOTIVATION: Yahweh's Love 1:2-5
PRIESTS EXHORTED ¶PROBLEM: Failure to Honor Yahweh 1:6-9
TO HONOR COMMAND: Stop Vain Offerings
YAHWEH 1:2-2:9 ¶PROBLEM: Profaning Yahweh's Name 1:11-14
¶MOTIVATION: Results of Disobedience 2:1-9
¶MOTIVATION: Spiritual Unity 2:10a, b
PROBLEM: Faithlessness 2:10c-14
TO FAITHFULNESS ¶PROBLEM: Complaints of Yahweh's
MOTlVATION: Coming Messenger of 3:1-6
¶COMMAND: Return to Yahweh with 3:7-10a
TO RETURN TO ¶PROBLEM: Complacency toward Serving 3:13-15
YAHWEH 3:7-4:6 God
MOTIVATION: The Coming Day -4:3
¶COMMAND: Remember the Law 4:4-6
¶= Indicates new paragraph.
17 Longacre, Grammar, 13-14.
8 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
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
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
of Biblical Hebrew Narrative" (M.A. thesis, The American
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
Clendenen: THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI 9
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 (-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
offered by a pseudo-dialogue introduced by Mtrmxv in v 13. The
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
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
10 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
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
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
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; "
Turbulence," Beyond the Sentence: Discourse and Sentential Form (ed. Jessica Wirth;
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
humiliation of those who refuse to respond.
The first three slots of the second movement are all encoded in
one paragraph (-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
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 -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.
12 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
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 to mark the turning point in the whole chiastic second
The rest of the second movement is also found in a single
paragraph (-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.'
(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.
Clendenen: THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI 13
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 (), the men
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.
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,
14 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
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
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. )
shall call you fortunate (rwx)." Note the contrast here with the future
(cf. the use of fwr, in 4:3).
The next paragraph of the book fills the next two slots, in -
4:3. As in each of the other problem slots, this last one in the center of
the chiasm (-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
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 (-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-
Clendenen: THE STRUCTURE OF MALACHI 15
bines, however, both the positive (-17, 4:2-3) and the negative
(-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 -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 , 4:2. The
macrostructure of the third movement may be expressed as follows:
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
16 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
by addressing the people, the following macrostructure may be sug-
gested for the whole discourse:
Problem: The failure of the priests of
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
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.
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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