[b-hebrew] authority of holem
yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Fri Dec 29 06:31:59 EST 2006
On 12/27/06, K Randolph wrote:
> How many times do I have to repeat myself before you stop claiming
> that I claim that the Masoretes "made up the vowels" that they
> preserved with their points?
Actually, your claim is more far reaching and deals with consonants as
> Even you admit in the long paragraph (deleted in this response) that
> it is almost certain that those pronunciations were not the same as in
> Biblical times. That is all I have ever claimed.
The claim that the pronunciations were different does not mean that
the original meaning is not preserved. However, your claim goes
much further and says that you can effectively ignore the vowels and
use context primarily. You have also severely contradicted some
basic claims of Hebrew linguistics (such as the "CV theory").
Now, you nor other Christians have a monopoly on the word
"inspired." Even if there is an official doctrine of "Inspiration"
that is published by the Pope, "inspiration" is still an English word
and may be used by other religions without prejudice. In particular,
Judaism has a similar concept in that traditional Jews do believe that
the Massoretic marks represent the divine system of pronunciation.
This system was given to Moses who passed it on, according to this
belief. Even if the system did not exist in written form, traditional Jews
belief it existed, much like you say that the "Torah" existed prior to
the 6th century BCE even though we do not have any copies of it at
all. The belief is that it was passed down orally but an oral text
exists just as well as a written text. We may say that errors in
transmission perhaps occurred through the ages in both the written
and oral text, though I doubt many ultraorthodox Jews believe that.
Now, you can call it what you want, I choose to call it inspired, and
if I steppd on your Christian definition of inspiration then I'm sorry,
but I was not aware that there was a specific doctrine of "inspiration."
When Steve Miller spoke of "every word of the Torah is inspired by
God," I was thinking of Maimonides' statement that it is heresy to say
that Moses wrote a word of his own choice in the Torah rather than
something that he received from God.
I don't understand your claim about being able to find documents
an uncanny ability, but leaving something to be desired of understanding
them. Are you talking about that "capernaum" issue? As you know, in
private mails, I told you that I did not read the entire article but only parts
of it. Those parts I did read seemed to directly suggest that no manuscript
prior to the 4th century BCE contains the spelling "capernaum", and prior
documents contained the spelling "capharnaum" or "cafarnaum". You
seemed to take this as consistent with your belief that "capernaum" is
an otherwise unpreserved early Christian pronunciation because no
Galilean evidence was brought that showed the spelling is "capharnaum"
even in the Galilee. Well, you may think what you want, but I think the
absence of evidence is no place for extreme conclusions. I also
provided a similar example of camel (from "gamal") where it is unlikely
that Galilean evidence had anything to do with it. Now, what do you think
the article said that I did not understand properly?
Going back to pronunciations, I do argue that the pronunciations were
different. I even argue that we can reconstruct them to some degree and
that if we do, we find Hebrew getting closer and closer to the EA Canaanite
and Ugaritic of the Late Bronze, as we reach the Late Bronze period. I
also do not say that because the pronunciation was different the word was
wrongly understood. Yes, Massoretes probably did record pronunciations
that were corrupted by some transmissional problems. This does not mean
that every word should be ignored from the Massoretic notes. The
Massoretic notes, being an authentic representation of a reading tradition,
is the best we have, and one cannot simply ignore it because one does not
like it, or feels he can do just as well otherwise. Yes, readers did read the
Torah scroll in liturgy from an unvoweled manuscript. But they also had a
clear memory of what the vowels were supposed to be that they had
received from oral tradition. While I don't necessarily think that
goes back to Moses, I do think that the tradition goes back to when Hebrew
was still a spoken language. In contrast, your claim is that the reading
tradition does not even go back that far, and that major corruptions were
introduced because the Massoretes or their ancestors did not understand
Hebrew and spoke Aramaic, even so far as to construct an artificial
language that did not exist authentically derive from a spoken language.
This is why I say you say the Massoretes made it up. If instead, you
think that the vocalization system is as authentic as the consonantal
text, then I'm sorry.
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