In his characterization of the poetic function, Nel is looking for a term that is broader than parallelism, the term Jakobson used, and capable of describing metalinguistic as well as linguistic phenomena. Recurrence is the term he reaches for, and he describes the modes of recurrence as involving identical, equivalent, or similar elements, and segments in a specific relationship to each other, such as identical sequence, distribution, opposition, or analogy.
Nel reserves the term parallelism for the idiosyncratic realization of recurrence in ancient Hebrew poetry. The phenomenon of parallelism, according to Nel, must be seen as unitive, and is maximally realized in said poetry across a line consisting of two to three versets – he refers to versets in the terminology of Robert Alter and cola or stichoi in the terminology of others as “co-ordinated lines.”
Nel identifies seven levels on which recurrence is realized in ancient Hebrew poetry: the morphological, lexical, syntactic, semantic, and phonological levels, and levels he designates as those of line and text formation.
Nel’s theoretical framework has much to commend it. It allows the theorist to describe the characteristic hallmark of all poetry with one word – recurrence – and the language and culture-specific realization of that hallmark in ancient Hebrew poetry by another – parallelism.
Nel’s identification of a broad range of modes of recurrence – repetition of identical, equivalent, or similar elements, symmetrically, congruently, or oppositionally arranged – is far more comprehensive and less open to criticism than the traditional trichotomy of Lowthian fame: synonymous, antithetical, and synthetic parallelism.
His identification of a broad range of levels
on which recurrence is realized is another positive. In this respect, he
rejects the approaches of Collins and O’Connor, who made syntactic patterns the
basis of poetic analysis, and sides instead with those of more Jakobsonian
bent, Adele Berlin in particular, who understood that parallelism in ancient
Hebrew poetry is a phenomenon that invests all levels of language. On
the other hand, he transcends Berlin
One never hears of Nel’s theory because he failed to apply it to a significant corpus of texts. It has remained a theory in search of at least one consistent practitioner. Nels also failed to explain his terminology in sufficient detail. Between the lines of his turgid prose, too often one can only guess what he had in mind.
Future research on ancient Hebrew poetry will nonetheless not be remiss if it seeks to recoup Nel’s insights in combination with others of independent origin.
 Nel interacts with the approaches of Terence Collins, Line-forms in Hebrew Poetry: A Grammatical Approach to the Stylistic Study of the Hebrew Prophets (Studia Pohl, Series Maior 7; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978); Michael Patrick O’Connor, Hebrew Verse Structure (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1980; reissued 1997 with “The Contours of Biblical Hebrew Verse, An Afterword to Hebrew Verse Structure” [pp. 631-61]); Adele Berlin, The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1985).
 The only instance of application I am aware of is Philip Nel, “Recurrence in Biblical Hebrew Poetry: An Analysis of Psalm 132,” in Proceedings of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies. Division A: The Bible and its World (ed. David Assaf; Jerusalem:; Magnes Press, 1994) 145-150.