[b-hebrew] morpho-syntax,was Proverbs 5:16 a declaration or a question?
kwrandolph at email.com
Sat Jan 1 11:59:17 EST 2005
----- Original Message -----
From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>
> > Harold:
> > I think I see what you claim. In other words, this is a question
> > in the form of a statement, also often done in English, in this
> > case expecting a negative answer. If that is your interpretation,
> > would not the best translation be, And the people said unto
> > Samuel, Who is he who said, Saul will be king over us?? Allow
> > us that we may cause him to die.. In this case, that the second
> > half of the question is understood as a question in itself, is
> > not a grammatical feature, but a stylistic use of a statement to
> > carry the idea of a question. Is that what you mean?
> HH: No, it is not what I meant. The opponents of Saul originally
> asked a question:
> 1Sam. 10:27 But some troublemakers said, "How can this fellow save
> us?" They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept
This verse clearly, from a grammatical standpoint, poses a question.
> HH: After Saul wins a victory over the Ammonites (1 Sam 11:1-11),
> the people think back to what these troublemakers said and despise
> them for saying it. They ask Samuel the identity of these men,
> quoting the substance or thrust of the original question in a
> slightly different form, perhaps giving the implication of the
> original words ("How can this fellow save us?"). So they say to
> Samuel: "Who is the one who said, 'Should Saul reign over us?'
> Bring the men so that we may kill them."
> It is the words "Should Saul reign over us?" that are an unmarked
> question in Hebrew. They are to be read as a question. The question
> "Should Saul reign over us?" was a restatement in slightly
> different terms of the original question "How can this fellow save
> us?" We know that biblical narrative is often condensed, and it may
> be that the troublemakers originally asked both questions. And any
> rate, the quotation by the people corresponds to the original
> questioning of the troublemakers.
You have mistranslated the verse. You have put what was grammatically a statement in Hebrew into what is grammatically a question in English.
To give a modern example: I enjoy science and going to the local science museums. I was taught a definition of what is science from a textbook authored by Dr. George Gaylord Simpson, one of the top evolutionists of the last century (when he retired, Stephen J. Gould took over his chair at Harvard). But looking at the definitions of science and evolution I was taught leads to the logical conclusion that evolution, by definition, is not a scientific theory, never has been and never can be. I have yet to see a logical argument demonstrating how evolution can be a scientific study. So while visiting the museums, I sometimes talk to high school and college interns, teaching what I learned from Dr. Simpsons textbook, giving pointers on how to think critically and logically. When I run into a resident scientist, he usually concludes that I dont know what is science and starts teaching me a basic definition of science, at which point I ask, You think I dont know this?
Getting back to B-Hebrew, notice how my question is framed grammatically as a statement, yet the context and inflection at the end change it to be understood as a question. And like the statement in 1 Samuel 11:12, it expects a negative response. While the Hebrew consonental text cannot show inflection, I see how the context can lead to the understanding that this is a statement that is to be understood as a question. (Incidently, it does not come near to quoting the question posed in 1 Samuel 10:27, but that grammatical question is part of the context leading to the understanding of the statement as a question.)
> > Even if I understand correctly your meaning for 1 Samuel 11:12, I
> > dont see the connection between that and Proverbs 5:16. There
> > are other questions that you havent addressed.
> HH: The example shows that the imperfect verb can be used in
> unmarked questions in Hebrew. Bryan was saying that the imperfect
> verb is not clause initial in 1 Sam 11:12 as in Prov 5:16. I
> realize that but do not know that this distinction disallows the
> possibility of an unmarked rhetorical question in Prov 5:16. I say
> this because my observation of unmarked questions is that they are
> unmarked. It is the context that requires one read them as
> questions. So I would not expect that any particular marking would
> have to be present, such as a subject first word order, which is
> what Bryan seemed to be requiring with use of the imperfect. He is
> right that a subject-first word order is present in some otherwise
> unmarked questions.
> Harold Holmyard
Whereas in English, the grammatical form indicating a question is the word order, that is not true in B-Hebrew. However, Bryan has shown that certain word constructs counterindicate questions, even the understanding of a statement as a question, among those the particular word structure found in Proverbs 5:16. There is no grammatical indication that it is a question, and I see no need to read it as a question.
Karl W. Randolph.
Ps: Please do not take my illustration above as an excuse to debate evolution. I gave that to use as an illustration *only* not to be taken out of the context above, a debate on the subject of that illustration is off topic for this board and I will not respond. If you want to debate the subject, please do so off line.
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