Zephaniah’s Macrostructure: A Textlinguistic-Rhetorical Analysis

How should one trace the organization and argument of a prophetic book like Zephaniah? This study seeks not only to identify Zephaniah’s component parts or segments but also to assess how these interrelate to communicate the prophet’s message, which I summarize as: Seek Yahweh together to avoid punishment, and wait for him to enjoy salvation. My method for determining macrostructure (or, what some call “macrosegmentation”) resembles the new form criticism as practiced by Marvin Sweeney and Michael Floyd in that it focuses on the literary structure, coherence, and purpose of larger discourse units and attempts to balance a careful reading of text grammar with the whole rhetorical argument. Like Sweeney, I propose that Zephaniah is a two-part argument with a setting followed by exhortations. Nevertheless, my exegetical and theological assessments differ at key points from both him and Floyd (at times substantially), and I organize the book differently especially in relation to the structuring function of Zeph 3:8 and 14’s imperatival clauses. This study grows out of my years of work on Zephaniah for ZECOT.