BAKHTIN REVISITS DEUTERONOMY: NARRATIVE THEORY AND THE DIALOGICAL EVENT OF DEUT. 31:2 AND 34:7
David A. Bergen
Department of Religious Studies
University of Calgary
The one who
understands . . . becomes himself a
participant in the dialogue (Mikhail Bakhtin). 
Critical approaches to the text of the Bible have commonly
employed some type of "divide-and-conquer" hermeneutic
to deal with its variegated nature. Typically,
scholarship has segregated textual discrepancies and
discontinuities into composite sources and/or traditions,
at the expense of the unity of the final form composition.
However, recent interpretive innovations have developed methods
to "conquer" the Bible's paratactic style while
synthesizing the text's disparate parts within a comprehensive
book of Deuteronomy challenges the critical reader to explain how
its multiplicity of genres and voices cohere within a unified
literary text. Presented as a farewell address by the prophet
Moses, Deuteronomy is the lengthiest uninterrupted speech of any
biblical character, one mediated by the voice of a mostly
unassuming narrator. Few scholars however demonstrate awareness
of the mediating presence implicit in the opening and closing
passages of Deuteronomy. Robert Polzins Moses and the
Deuteronomist (1980) is an exception, engaging the
narrative of Deuteronomy with the assistance of the literary
theories of Mikhail Bakhtin. Yet, despite Polzins
auspicious efforts, both the narrator and Bakhtin remain
relatively foreign to critical Deuteronomic discussions. In
having Bakhtin revisit the narrative of Deuteronomy, this paper
will demonstrate the viability of narratology to account for
Deuteronomy's diversity within unity. A close reading of Deut. 31:2
and 34:7 within a narrative structure will also demonstrate the
untapped potential of Bakhtin's literary theory for interpreting
the biblical narrative.
Bakhtin's theory of dialogic is based on his
understanding of the dynamics and potentialities reverberating in
all conversational dialogue. Dialogic is open-ended and
indeterminate, it values relational truth situated between and
within speaking subjects and revels in the diversity and
difference of voiced plurality. The antithesis of dialogic is monologic,
a (mostly heuristic) concept which asserts propositional truth (in
abstraction from a speaking subject) and demands monovalent unity
(usually through reductionism and/or totalization).
2.2. The primary building block in Bakhtin's theory of dialogic is the utterance, that is, any written or spoken statement integrated within a discourse and embodied in a clearly defined speaking subject. Between any two utterances there exists the possibility for a dialogic event, provided that these utterances in some way collide. Every utterance is also internally dialogic, for in Bakhtin's view, all speech is linked to the words, ideas, and utterances of others. In this sense all human discourse inhabits an intertextual universe; no discourse utters the original word on any subject. And so every discourse is twice dialogizedit carries within itself the utterances and ideas of others, as it is spoken from a specific situation to a specific audience. No utterance, and by extension no person, arrives at completion or conclusion. Monologic attempts to sum a statement, to finalize a life, or to somehow reduce an utterance are anathematic to dialogic thought and process. 
narration of Moses' death is of biblical proportion: brief, and
to the point. Within sight of the land from which he is barred,
Moses is granted his last breath and buried by God in a place of
no fixed address. Following interment, 34:7 makes the following
wny( hthk-)l wtmb hn# Myr#(w h)m-Nb h#mw
Moses was a hundred and twenty years
old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force
This enigmatic comment is made more
so by a prior utterance in 31:2:
)wblw t)cl dw( lkw)-)l Mwyh ykn) hn# Myr#(w h)m-Nb
Ndryh-t) rb(t )l yl) rm) hwhyw
I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I am no longer able to go out and to come in. Yahweh has said to me, 'You shall not go over this Jordan'"
These two verses, individually and
together, have challenged the interpretive resources of biblical
readers for centuries.
The curious phrase "to go out and to come in" can
refer either to general day-to-day motility or to public
leadership. Context is
usually sufficient to determine which of these two meanings is
intended. In Exod. 28:35, Moses employed the idiom to describe
some of the cultic duties of Aaron: "And
[the golden bell] shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its
sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place
(#dqh-l) w)bb) before Yahweh and when he comes out (wt)cbw), lest he die" (Exod. 28:35). Leadership was again on Moses' mind in Num. 27:16-17 when he petitioned God to appoint a successor to not only" go out and to come in" before the congregation
(Mhynpl )by r#)w Mhynpl )cy-r#)), but also to shepherd the people so that they themselves might" go out and come in"
(M)yby r#)w M)ycwy r#)w; note hiphil form).
In 31:2 however, Moses' intention is elusive, for the phrases
flanking his idiomatic confession generate ambiguity, not clarity.
Earlier in this final address, Moses employed the "going
out and coming in" idiom to detail the potential
windfall available, should the people uphold their end of the
contractual God-Israel bargain (ch. 28). The "blessings and
curses" passage contains six blessings (vv. 3-6) grouped
neatly into three pairs, each introduced anaphorically with the
word "blessed" (Kwrb):
Blessed shall you be in the city
Blessed shall you be in the field
Blessed shall be the fruit of your body . . . ground . . . beasts . . .
Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough
Blessed shall you be when you come in
Blessed shall you be when you go out
All blessings mentioned in this textual unit are in some way
connected to everyday biological concerns: motility, productivity,
fecundity, security, and so on (cf. Deut. 7:13-14). The "going
out and coming in" idiom at the close of the unit gives an
all-inclusive summary to the unit, its reversed syntax
paralleling nicely the blessings of field and city introduced at
the outset (Tigay 1995:259).
The upbeat mood of 28:3-6 has disappeared in Moses' second
use of the idiom, for his admission is most decidedly negative.
However, the meaning behind the idiom in 31:2 is less than
certain. Does Moses' inability pertain to his leadership, or,
following 28:6, does he suffer from a more pervasive disability
that restricts his general physical movement? Close analysis of Moses' ambiguous confession
reveals it to be part of a larger textual unit, framed by the
narrator's perfunctory directions (vv. 1-2a and 7a), and
configured in the following chiastic arrangement:
I am a hundred and twenty years old this day
I am no longer able to go out and to come in
The LORD has said to me (yl) rm) hwhyw), You shall not go over
(rb(t )l) this Jordan (2)
B The LORD your God ()wh Kyhl) hwhy)
himself will go over (rb() before you Kynpl) (3a)
will destroy (dym#y-)wh) these nations before you (Kynplm)
so that you shall dispossess them (Mt#ryw) (3b)
X Joshua himself ()wh (#why) will go over (rb() at your head (Kynpl )
as the LORD has spoken (hwhy rbd r#)k) (3c)
And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and
Og . . .
when he destroyed them (Mt) dym#h) (4)
And the LORD will give them over to you, and you
shall do to them . . . which I have commanded you (5)
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be
in dread of them
for it is the LORD your God himself ()wh Kyhl) hwhy) who goes with you (Km( Klhh)
he will not fail you or forsake you (6)
The pivotal centre of the chiastic structure focuses on
Joshua heading the crossing of the Jordan river (X). Enveloping
this centre are a series of concentric circles whose first ring (C)
contains a promise that God will destroy (dym#y) the nations in preparation for Israel's
possession (Mt#ryw). This
promise is then expanded (C') with a recollection of recent
military successes under God's command (Mt) dym#h), followed by a reminder of
previously stated commands that alludes to Israel's forthcoming
program of ethnic cleansing (cf. Deut. 7:1-5, 12:2-3, 20:16-17).
The second ring (B) promises God's escort for the Jordan crossing
and then expands (B') with a number of imperatives that exhort
courage on the eve of military conquest.
A number of shifts occur between the
structure's third and second rings (A-B) which highlight Moses'
disfranchisement. A shift in subject, from Moses to other
characters, is accompanied by a shift in focus as the speaker
moves from self-characterization (v. 2) to an extended
characterization of God, Joshua, and Israel (vv. 3-6). With
changes in subject and focus comes a shift in mood as Moses'
gloomy self-deprecation gives way to an optimistic description of
Israel's tomorrow. Throughout the structure a number of
subtleties emphasize Moses' exclusion. The prohibition of the
leader is stated at the edge of the chiasmus (A), while the inner
rings pick up on the verb of the divine interdiction (rb(t) and transform it into a
positive leitwort (B and X) which divides those able to cross the
boundary from the one who must remain in the region beyond (rb(). Moses' exclusion is further
emphasized with the repetition of the word Kynpl (B, C, and
X), which casts Joshua himself and God himself (note
the emphatic )wh in B, C, X, and B') in Moses'
traditional role of crossing "before" Israel and
destroying the nations "before them." On the far
side of the chiastic centre, "crossing over"
gives way to actions and verbs in keeping with the task of
Canaanite subjugation. Particularly important is the use of the
word Klhh to describe a God
who "goes with you" (B'),
as opposed to the former rb(
(B) describing a God who "goes before
you." All acts
of "crossing over" (rb()
and "going before" (Kynpl)
have been left behind with Israel's transition into God's promise.
Left behind too is Israels aged leader, his fate sealed (A)
by a divine prohibition ("and the Lord said" -- yl) rm) hwhyw) that stands in sharp
contrast (X) to Joshuas divine affirmation (hwhy rbd r#)k -- "as the Lord has
spoken" [cf. Deut. 1:38, 3:28]).
3.8. The contrast between the able figure of Joshua at the centre and the disabled 120 year old figure at the periphery is clearly explicated by the structure's patterns and shifts. However, at the edge of the chiastic structure the consistent pattern of statement plus expanded restatement suddenly breaks down, leaving Moses' negative announcement (A) without parallel augmentation (A') and the chiastic unit without appropriate inclusio. This chiastic incongruity forces a re-examination of 31:2, which reveals an important gap in Moses' self-disclosure. The last phrase of v. 2 ("you shall not go over this Jordan") is an exact repetition of God's words directly quoted in 3:27. This phrase provides Moses' audience and the narrator's reader with a link to the prophet's feisty petitions and face-saving arguments (1:37, 3:23-27, 4:21-22). Yet in 31:2--at the very moment when Moses' narrative coincides with his narration--no sign of protest or petition is heard from the speaker, no hint of Israel's alleged culpability ("the Lord was angry with me on your account") is alluded to. Are these omissions indicative of physical exhaustion? Or do they reveal a dispirited leader resigned to the fate that cuts him off one crossing short of his life-time goal? Such questions cry out for a parallel explanation, but all answers are left to dangle in the crucial silence of the chiastic gap (A').
No mention of inadequacy or limitation appears in 34:7.
Instead, the two comments following the repetition of Moses
age portray anything but an effete or exhausted character. The
meaning of the first comment, "his eye was not dim" (wny( hthk-)l), is relatively
straightforward. The second comment, "nor was his natural
force diminished" (hxl sn-)lw),
contains a difficult hapax legomenon (hxl). Several
ancient interpreters, influenced perhaps by the preceding
reference to Moses' eyesight, understood hxl as a derivative of yxl (cheek, jaw) and explained it as a
reference to Moses' youthful appearance at the time of his death
(perhaps due to a full dentition). More commonly, scholars have interpreted hxl as a reference to Moses'
retention of "natural force" or "vigour," an
interpretation favoured by some medieval grammarians and most modern English
translations. This interpretation is largely derived from the
adjective xl, which describes
the "dampness" or "moisture" of healthy trees,
ripe fruit, and "green" wood (cf. Gen. 30:37-43, Num. 6:3,
Judg. 16:7, 8, Ezek. 17:24).
A colourful variation to the "vigour"
interpretation is forwarded by W. F. Albright, whose Ugaritic-informed
reading of hxl leads him to
state: "The precise connotation . . . is undoubtedly 'sexual
power,' the decline of which is the most painful aspect of
senescence among all primitive peoples" (1944:33n). Albright
concludes that hxl refers to
Moses' sexual virility, a euphemistic testimony to Moses'
tremendous strength and vitality even at the advanced age of 120
Jeffrey H. Tigay takes exception to all interpretations (especially
Albright's) that see in hxl a
reference to "vigour" or "virility,"
preferring instead to find a connotation of "moistness"
that might harmonize with 31:2. Following Jonas Greenfield (1984:223-24),
Tigay finds a parallel with the Northwest Semitic root Nd(, a word which Tigay notes is
well attested in rabbinic literature as a description for
youthful, luxuriant skin. From this comparison, Tigay concludes
that 34:7 is a reference to the condition of Moses' skin. However, Tigay's
attempt to parallel hxl with the Northwest Semitic Nd( is a puzzling non sequitur, while
his reliance on 31:2 to obviate any sense of "vitality"
or "vigour" for the word hxl
is unacceptable (as already seen, 31:2 cannot be read
unequivocally as the description of a decrepit dotard). Whether hxl refers to "vigorous
vitality" or "lubricious skin" is perhaps not all
that important, for the implication of either is similar: Moses
departed from Israel in possession of a significant degree of
Given the differences between 31:2 and 34:7, scholars have
remained divided over whether these two verses are consonant or
dissonant. Many follow Martin Noth (1981:176) and apportion the
two verses to different authorial sources: the seemingly
enfeebled man of 31:2 the portrayal of the deuteronomistic
historian; the invigorated individual of 34:7 the product of the
Priestly writer.  Others
join Tigay in harmonizing the two verses, arguing that although
Moses had lost his privileged status as leader (whether through
antiquation or prohibition), he was neither blind nor hidebound
at his time of death. Can
narrative theory, in co-operation with Bakhtin's dialogic, move
the reader beyond these simplistic categories of consonance
From a narratological perspective, 31:2 and 34:7 are intoned
by two different voices. The description of incompetence and/or
limitation in 31:2 is Moses' self-characterization as he prepares
to be "gathered to his people" (Deut. 32:50). The
description of youthfulness in 34:7 is the reporting voice of the
narrator as he draws his discreet narration to a conclusion.
Rather than conflate these verses into a single unified
description, a narratological approach interprets them in their
respective narrative situations and levels. Conversely, rather
than tatter the text into separate sources, a narratological
approach ties these verses together in dynamic tension within the
narrative fabric of Deuteronomy.
The stage is set for a dialogic event. But the two primary
speakers do not stand on a level platform, for the utterance
belonging to Moses' discourse (31:2) is embedded within the
framing discourse of the narrator.  The dialogic angle between quoted and quoting
voices is therefore drawn by the boundary separating the host
discourse and the adopted speech. As adopted speech, Moses'
address simultaneously serves two speakers, each of whom are
"dialogically interrelated." The embedded discourse is
re-accentuated in another's voice and is subject to the narrator's
dialogic evaluation and interpretation. When these two voices,
speaking from two discrete contexts, converge on the same object
of reference, they create a double-voiced effect which
intensifies the dialogic action.
5.3. Double-voiced discourse, according to Bakhtin, comes in varying degrees of dialogic intensity. If a speaker assumes another's discourse and "objectifies it" for his own purposes, the double-voicing is a stylization of the original. The "stylizer" assumes the assimilated discourse to be essentially correct and in agreement with his own aims. Stylization turns to parody when the intentions of the quoting discourse are somehow different from the intentions of the quoted discourse. "In contrast to stylization," says Bakhtin, "parody introduces . . . a semantic intention that is directly opposed to the original one" (1984:193). Parody turns to hidden polemic when the speaker delivers a calculated polemical blow against another's discourse. Hidden polemic is a common practice; few day-to-day conversations take place without at least one "dig" or "barbed word" tossed in someone's direction. 
the dialogically sensitive ear, 34:7's restatement of Moses' age
is more than superfluous repetition. The reiterated age of Moses
represents a shift to double-voicing as the narrator deliberately
borrows, stylizes, and objectifies for his own framing purposes a
phrase lifted from the hero's disclosure in 31:2.
What is the intonation of the voice that stylizes these words?
Does the narrator evince reverence and respect as he eulogizes
the death of the prophet? Hardly have these questions surfaced
before the reader is caught off guard as the stylization moves to
parody: "His eye was not dim nor his natural force
diminished." Whereas 31:2 portrays Moses in depressingly
negative terms, 34:7 paints a much brighter picture of the
seasoned leader. One does not require Albright's carnivalesque
interpretation to sense a radically different tone (though the
absence of any erectile disfunctionality certainly goes a long
way in enhancing the heros legendary potential). The
dialogic angle between 31:2 and 34:7 is clearly visible when
|I am 120 years old this day||Moses was 120 years old when he died|
|(hn# Myr#(w h)m-Nb)||(hn# Myr#(w h)m-Nb)|
|I am no longer able to go out and to come in||his eye was not dim, nor
was his "natural force" diminished
|Yahweh said to me, You
shall not cross this Jordan
The narrator's stylized quotation of Moses' first phrase
represents a dialogic of agreement. The narrator then contrasts
Moses' confession with two negatively-stated comments (fused with
a co-ordinating conjunction) which transform Moses' admission
into a parody, "[borrowing] a style and [applying] it to
expressive purposes that are in some sense the reverse of the
original purpose" (Lodge 1990:36). The narrator's
superlative evaluation of Moses' physical health problematizes
any conflation that would see Moses disqualified from leadership
for reasons of physical debilitation. Rather, the narrator's
positive evaluation shifts the responsibility for Moses'
inability in the direction of the one who suppresses the hero.
With this dialogic, the narrator's utterance suggests that, given
the opportunity, Moses could have led the people into
their possession. Moses'
retirement was premature, the result of a binding dictate from a
monologizing God rather than the physical exigency of a tired
duodecogenarian (cf. 32:48-52). With his dialogic of difference,
the narrator's potent evaluation unfinalizes the hero, in the process
delivering an indirect critical comment towards/against the
The dialogic collision between 31:2 and 34:7 is reinforced
with the realization that 34:7 is not only the narrator's
stylization and parody of Moses' confession, but also the missing
piece of the chiastic unit in 31:2-6. The narrator's intrusion at
31:7 pre-empts an explanation, from the perspective of the
hero, of the multiple issues surrounding his statement in 31:2.
Instead, the external narrator has taken upon himself the task of
resolving the open-ended ambiguities. In the process of breaking
frame, the implied author's poetic of double-voicing is exposed.
The resulting dialogic collides across narrative voices, levels,
and situations, pressing further questions to the fore. Why did
the narrator deny the hero his own explanation? Did Moses'
inclusio perhaps express his capitulation to the monologizing
Other, a capitulation in some way offensive to the narrator's (dialogic,
theologic, or ideologic) sensibilities?
There is still one dialogic remaining, one which leaves the
reader the task of filling yet another gap. In the face of God's
prohibition ('You shall not cross this Jordan') the narrator
silently retreats. Why this critical gap in the midst of a full-blown
chapter of narratorial evaluation? Bakhtin claims that any
speaker engaged in hidden polemic "literally cringes in the
presence of the anticipation of someone else's word, reply,
objection" (1984:196). Does this narratorial gap indicate
the recriminating presence of a fear deep within the soul of the
behind-the-scenes author? In whose presence does he "cringe"
in anticipation? Whose ideology is promoted in this dialogic of
silence, and against whose ideological position has the author's
narrator delivered a barbed hook? Or does the Deuteronomic author, like Bakhtin
himself, cower beneath the gaze of some ancient "Stalin?"
7.1. The voicing of two of Deuteronomy's more problematic verses to different narrative voices and situations maintains the obvious tensions between these utterances while locking each in tight literary (mis)step. Furthermore, a Bakhtinian reading of Deut.31:2 and 34:7 demonstrates the potential of narrative theory and dialogic to raise important questions and to provide alternative approaches to old issues. The dialogic event between these two verses invites the reader to become a co-partner with the narrator in reading the hero's struggle in the monologizing presence of God. In the process of reading, the reader is manoeuvred by the narrator into many ambiguities and gaps left open when Israel's greatest prophet was silenced in the region beyond the Jordan. These gaps beckon the reader to reread the narrative, to grapple with its moral issues and questions, and ultimately, to participate in its dialogue. For Deuteronomy, like all great literature, is not only to be read, but reread. 
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quoted by Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist (1984:1).
 For some applications of Mikhail Bakhtin's thought to the Bible, see Carol A. Newsom (1996), Walter L. Reed (1993), Herbert Levine (1992), and David McCracken (1992).
 For further discussions on the dialogic nature of speech and utterance, see Bakhtin (1984:183-184; 1986:91-3), Keith M. Booker and Dubravka Juraga (1995:16), Michael Holquist (1990:60), Clark and Holquist (1984: 9-10, 241), Newsom (1996:293-95).
 Outside Deuteronomy, the general sense of the idiom is found in Ps. 121:8 and Jer 37:4. More frequently however, the idiom is used with reference to leadership, particularly military leadership; see Josh. 14:10-11, 1 Sam. 18:13, 16, 29:6, 1 Kgs. 3:7, 2 Kgs. 11:8 (// 2 Chron. 23:7), and 2 Kgs. 19:27.
 Most commentators interpret 28:6's idiom in a general sense, either as a reference to a person's "daily round" (Anthony Phillips 1973:190; Peter C. Craigie 1976:336) or as a blanket statement covering "the whole range of man's life" (J. A. Thompson 1974:270; Ian Cairns 1992:242; Eugene H. Merrill 1994:354; A. D. H. Mayes 1991:352; S. R. Driver 1986:305).
 In contrast with 28:6, many interpreters connect the idiom in 31:2 with public leadership (George W. Coats 1988:149; Cairns 1992:271; Mayes 1991:373; Jeffrey H. Tigay 1996:289).
 The phrase "the LORD your God" (Kyhl) hwhy) is used whenever Moses speaks of the leadership and guardianship of Israel's God (B and B'). Elsewhere in this unit (A, X, and C'), Moses refers to the divine character simply as hwhy, "the LORD."
 Indeed, were it not for the mediating performance of the Deuteronomic narrator standing on this side of the Jordan, even Moses final address would have remained in the beyond (Ndryh rb(b; cf. Deut. 1:1).
 An extensive
discussion of the biblical technique of leaving gaps is found in
Menahem Perry and Meir Sternberg (1986:275-322) and Meir
 The BDB Lexicon (1979:535) translates the word hxl as moisture or freshness, while Ludwig von Koehler and Walter Baumgartner (1974:499) give the definition as (Lebens-) Saft, Frische.
 Tigay (1995:345).
R. Joseph Qimhi negates this ancient reading, pointing out that
the final yod is missing in hxl,
while it is retained in the suffixed forms of yxl, for example wyxl in Job 40:26 (Eng 41:2) (Tigay 1995:346).
 Tigay documents the dictionaries of Ibn Janah and Qimhi, the translation of Saadia, and the Samaritan Targum (1995:346).
 Interpreters who
understand this word to mean "freshness" include Coats
(1993:181-94), Driver (1986:424), and G. E. Wright (1953:311-30).
 R. Eliezer b. Yaakov (Sipre) understood hxl esoterically: Moses' post mortem corpse never dried up, but was preserved in perpetuity (Tigay 1995:347).
 Tigay notes that
in Gen. 18:12 Nd( is
contrasted with the word hlb:
"After I have grown old (ytwlb),
and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure (
hnd()." He writes:
is used in contrast to ytwlb
'I am withered' and it refers to "lubricious quality of the
skin due to its being moist and freshened;" . . . This was
understood in the Talmud, which describes the fulfillment of
Sarah's words thus: "After the skin had withered (hlbtn) and wrinkles multiplied, the
skin was freshened (Nd(tn)
and the wrinkles became smooth and beauty returned . . . [T]he
restoration of Sarah's skin led to the disappearance of her
wrinkles. This suggests that Moses' moistness, hxl, may also refer to unwrinkled skin"
 For example, Dennis T. Olson (1994:167), Phillips (1973:231), Mayes (1991:413), Cairns (1992:305), Coats (1993:186-187), and Driver (1986:424).
 For example, Thompson (1974:320), Craigie (1976:405n), and Tigay (1996:338).
 Embedded utterances are quotidian fare, occurring whenever we quote, ridicule, mock, or evaluate another person's discourse (Bakhtin 1983:340, 1984:195).
 On the complex subject of double-voicing, see Bakhtin (1984:324-25), Simon Dentith (1995:98f), David Lodge (1990:85), Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson (1990:150), and Tzvetan Todorov (1984:68f).
 Many interpreters have recognized the premature nature of Moses' death. Coats for example, views Moses as a tragic figure (1988:152), while both Olson (1994:172-82) and Patrick D. Miller (1990:243-44) interpret Moses' untimely passing as (respectively) a "decentering element" or a "subversive element" in the book of Deuteronomy.
 In Problem's of Dostoevsky's Poetics, Bakhtin writes: "Nothing conclusive has yet taken place in the world, the ultimate word of the world and about the world has not yet been spoken, the world is open and free, everything is still in the future, and will always be in the future" (1984:109). In Bakhtinian scholarship, the open-ended nature of dialogic truth finds English expression in the (somewhat clumsy) word "unfinalizability." According to dialogic, no human person nor any human dialogue can ever be "finalized." Newsom explains: "Whereas monologic conceptions make it possible to "sum up" a person, a dialogic orientation is aware that persons have never spoken their final word and so remain open and free" (1996:294-95, cf. also 1996:296).
 Bakhtin states
that in hidden polemic, "discourse is directed toward an
ordinary referential object, naming it, portraying, expressing,
and only indirectly striking a blow at the other's discourse,
clashing with it, as it were, within the object itself. As a
result the other person's discourse begins to influence authorial
discourse from within .. ." (1984:196).
 Special thanks to Dr. Lyle Eslinger for his numerous editorial and conceptual suggestions during the various stages of the writing of this piece.