[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect? Psalm 107
furuli at online.no
furuli at online.no
Thu May 20 17:01:05 EDT 2004
With all due respect for your scholarship, your argument reminds me
of the case of H. Birkeland and F.R. Blake in the middle of the 20th
century. Both were strong proponents for the view that WAYYIQTOL
always signals past tense, but they both had the same problem.
Looking at grammatical works discussing the topic, each of them found
about 150 cases in these books (the same cases) which contradicted
their view (today this number has grown to 1.000). But because both
were absolutely certain that WAYYIQTOL *was* past tense, and nothing
but past tense, they had to explain the contradictory cases. Both
were able to show that the 150 cases did not contradict their view,
but what is interesting, is to compare their reasoning. Birkeland
argued that all the examples (except possibly three) were real
Preterits, but Blake concluded that most of the examples were not
preterits, but that they were wrongly pointed. their results were
given before they started their consideration of the 150 examples.
To ignore the examples that contradict one's view with the argument
that they are errors, does not recommend itself as a good scientific
method. Errors will occur, but they must be shown to be errors on the
basis of a scientific analysis. If you have studied the Philosophy of
science, you should be familiar with the problem of induction; one
million white swans do not prove that all swans are white, but two
black swans, who are not dyed or have gone through a fire, will
falsify the hypothesis. Thus, the 1.000 non-past WAYYIQTOLs are a
stronger basis for saying that WAYYIQTOL is not semantically speaking
past tense than the 12.000 WAYYIQTOLs occurring in past narratives.
The verb form used in past narrative *must* per definition have past
reference, and we cannot know whether this pas reference is pragmatic
or semantic. How should we for instance view the infinitive absolutes
that are used as the narrative verbs in Phoenician, e.g. in the
Karatepe inscription. By traditional logic, these should also be
preterits, but nobody would say so.
So I think it is better to ask yourself: Where have a learned that
the Hebrew conjugations are tenses? Have I read it in textbooks that
I trust? Or have I made a personal inductive study of a great part,
or of all the Classical Hebrew corpus with this conclusion as a
result? How can I be certain that my view is correct?
Prepositions are notoriously ambiguous in any language, and I not
seen evidence for "loose usage" of Hebrew prepositions (if you by
"loose usage" means a use that contradicts lexicon or syntax). Again
I think it is your preconceived ideas about prepositions that are
wrong and not their use in the corpus.
University of Oslo
>Tanakhic grammar is not always strict.
>There is a certain percentage of incorrect or loose usage of prepositions -
>and, certainly, of the verb tenses. I guess you would encounter about the
>same ratio of errors both in the simple tenses in in wa's and we's. These
>are the scribal errors, not refutation of the tenses. I don't think medieval
>English always uses tenses correctly, but you won't argue on existense of
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