[B-Greek] Looking for a quote

bitan buth ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
Sun Apr 2 07:07:23 EDT 2006

>>[RB] We have different sets of data here. They had lots of words for
'mind'. Though the 'heart' metaphor was one among many.>>
>[AH]This is a really crucial point, and although this might be more
appropriate in the Hebrew list rather than the Greek list, I would really
appreciate if you could elaborate on this. I don't know any OT Hebrew word
specifically meaning "mind", so I assume that you are referring to the
Aramaic. >
Again, pan-Aramaism and NT folk. Someday a book will be written on this.
[This would probably not come as a surprise if I advocated that NT
researchers had a fluent control of Hebrew, any dialect. Next generation :-)
>[AH] As far as I can see, in OT Aramaic (as for instance found in Daniel),
there does not appear to be any distinct word for "mind", since lev is used
all the time whereever the mind is referred to. But by the time of the
Peshitta, it appears from say Mark 12:30 that there was a word that
specifically means "mind", perhaps something that came about under Greek
influence. So it seems that some time between say the 4th century BC and the
4th century AD, Aramaic adopted a word meaning "mind". I would really
appreciate it if you could elaborate on this, and let me know where I can
find further information.>
For starters, Hebrew and Aramaic are not canonically limited. Hebrew was a
living language for Jews in the Land throughout the Second Temple period and
continued in live use up to about 200CE plus extensive 'second-language' use
from thereon (its first-language demise appears to be connected to the
population decimations and transfers following the wars of 70 and 135 CE
with their anti-Jewish policies). Aramaic was also used in the Land
throughout the Second Temple period and remained in use in villages even
under the Islamic conquests of the 7th century. (Hence Christian Palestinian
Aramaic texts of later times and the modern Ma`alula enclave.) What that
means is that Qumran Hebrew, BenSira Hebrew, and Mishnaic Hebrew (especially
tannaitic) are all respositories where the language picture may be seen. 
Also, it must be remembered that DIANOIA is not necessarily the most basic
Greek word for NOUS and PsUXH. 
Hebrew words for mind include (without taking time for a search): 
yetser maHshavot ('organ for thoughts' 1or2Chronicles)
Heshbon ('calculation', 'ability to think' DIALOGISMOS BenSira 9,15, 
   I happen to have a copies at hand at the moment) 
da`at ('knowing', especially in contexts refering to the 
   ability to know, Qumran serex ha-YaHad column 1. Cf. madda`, 
   modern for 'science'.)
hon (see Even Shoshan milon/DICTIONARY [not Bible concordance] for 
   rabbinic uses)
tvuna, bina ('understanding, discernement', 
   again, in contexts where the ability is in focus rather than the 
   results or quality, e.g. BenSira 15:15, 44:3)
ra`yonot ('thoughts')
maHshavot ('thoughts')
and of course, 
   lev//levav 'heart' in contexts of thinking.
sexel 'understanding', in contexts where the ability to think is in 
   focus, led to a medieval development of a technical term that is 
   'mind, mental' today in modern Hebrew.
You should also note that the word at Mk 12:30 Peshitta is ra`yon 'thought',
the shared word listed above, already from LateBH and mishnaic, not to
mention BA Daniel 2:29 ra`yon where Theod uses OI DIALOGISMOI
'thoughts,calculations', which brings us back full circle to multiple words
for mind in both Hebrew and Aramaic. And Greek.
ERRWSO hwe shriri 


Randall Buth, PhD
Biblical Language Center


c/o margbuth at gmail.com

also, Director, Biblical Studies in Israel
under Rothberg International School,

Hebrew University

ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il


More information about the B-Greek mailing list