[B-Greek] Iesous/zeus connection
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
Thu Sep 29 15:17:37 EDT 2005
Shalom Don, (OUK EGNWN OTI AKOUEIS.)
>It is not merely a question of pronouncing the <ayin but whether
there was a furtive patah. Syriac (an Aramaic language) has he <ayin
but does not indicated a furtive patah: yeshu<.
Don is right on this, though more lurks under the orthography. With <ayin
and Het (e.g. ha-mashiiH) non-semitic language speakers will hear something,
even when a helping vowel is not added. In Arabic today one says yasuu<
al-masiiH. The <ayin and Het are quite distinct, but difficult for English
speakers to describe when they meet it. It is impossible to know how much
vocalic quality may have been added to <ayin in both Hebrew and Aramaic of
the first century, and it wouldn't have been written in any case. The
question of a helping vowel, of course, is sub-phonemic, meaning that the
word and meaning did not change, no matter how much 'a' was heard or
As Donald mentions, the written helping vowel belongs to the Masoretic
tradition of the ninth century CE. We do know that there were sub-standard
speakers of both Hebrew and Aramaic during Ben Kosiba's time (132 CE), e.g.
who confused shin and samex (a clear Grecism) as well as Het and HE. It
wouldn't surprise me if Greek was at least a contributing cause of the
helping vowel. It could have entered the language in degrees, dialects and
registers, any time from BenSira and the Macabbees onwards.
>As for Gary's point about the pejorative pronunciation, that is
something about which I was totally unaware. Is there some
documenatation or discussion of this somewhere that one can easily
access? I'd love to read about this.
Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.
You might look up the abbreviation y-sh-u in Even Shoshan's dictionary where
it will be given as "yimaH shmo vezixro". (If the dictionary is not in the
library, ask Lenore Mullican.) Some elementary school kids might think that
that was Titus' family name: "Titus YimaH-shmo" (this is the Titus of
temple-destruction infamy). However, contrary to conspiracy theories on
Yeshuu<'s name, I think the form Yeshu in "Yeshu ha-notsri" came directly
from Christians and Greek usage. Christians called him IHSOUS, IHSOU,
IHSOUN. If one takes that Greek name and backs it into Hebrew it could pick
up a shin, but could also be left foreign and Greek by leaving off either
<ayin or a case ending. That would explain the lack of <ayin, which as
noted, was NEVER an early feature of writing the name Yeshuu<. When they
wanted to slur him they said Yeshu ben pantera. See Even Shoshan or perhaps
Jastrow or a book on rabbis names in the Talmud. Today in Israel, almost all
Israelis use the form Yeshu ha-notsri, thinking that that was his name,
while Messianic Jews use the form Yeshuua<, as historically correct. No one
consciously hears the name Yeshu as the abbreviation y-sh-u, because when
someone refers to the abbreviation they say the words themselves. Just like
no one in English says "ETS" when they mean "et cetera, yada yada".
As to what percentage of later Galileans would pronounce a clear <ayin,
certainly some did, but as to what percentage, not only is there no
concensus (as Gary rightly points out), it is unknowable (mainly based on
Babylonian anecdotes, but needing balance with Arabic place names).
ERRWSO, YEVAREXEXA HA_SHEM
Randall Buth, PhD
Biblical Language Center
c/o margbuth at gmail.com
also, Director, Biblical Studies in Israel
under Rothberg International School,
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
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