weqatal in Jdg 3:23

Paul Zellmer zellmer at cag.pworld.net.ph
Mon Oct 5 05:04:11 EDT 1998

Rolf Furuli wrote:

> The point I tried to make was that any language is an institution which we
> must learn to understand to master the language. Mishnaic Hebrew and the
> other Semitic languages may throw some light on biblical Hebrew, but the
> understanding of the details of a particular text must come from a study of
> the language itself. Therefore we should not force upon the language modern
> theories, but make sure that our approach really fits the language.


This is the second posting you have sent on this subject.  I was one of the addressees
on the first.

I can't speak for the others, but I, for one, am not trying to "force upon the
language modern theories."  Rather, I am doing what the scientific method dictates,
namely, taking a theory and bouncing it against the data.  When the results don't
match the predictions, or the data seems abberant, I don't blame the data.  I blame
and seek to adjust the theory.


> It has never been demonstrated
> that discourse analysis can assign meaning to particular forms, it can only
> discover and predict patterns. To be more specific: If we assume that all
> verbs used in a progressive narrative are perfective, we have used
> discourse analysis to outrule both the brute data and the institutional
> data of Hebrew.

And different people try to study a language in different ways.  Some of us are
currently concentrating on discourse analysis.  You, at least in the past, have
checked the raw data from the viewpoint that all yiqtols are imperfective and all
qatals are perfective.  Are you trying to suggest that you did not use your theory to
"outrule both the brute data and the institutional data of Hebrew."  (Actually,
working in a two "tense" language in the Philippines, I have no problem with your
theory.  But that doesn't mean that the function in an English translation would
reflect the underlying mindset of the Hebrew.  Only colloquial English and certain few
novelist would generally use the present tense to relate historical narrative.)

Just because we have different theories, and those theories cause us to focus on
different "problem areas" does not mean that the adherents to a theory necessarily
cannot allow for other forces to change the data.  Idiom frequently overrides
grammar.  That doesn't bother me in the least, nor does it make me try to force my
grammar on the idiom.


> Some time ago you asked about the differences in some of the doublets of
> the Bible. Not all of these can be explained as textual errors, but have
> you tried to explain them on the basis of discourse analysis? My experience
> in trying to learn the institution of Hebrew, is that the Hebrew of old
> felt comfortable in expressing the same thing either with the prefix form
> or with the suffix form without necessarily intending a semantic
> difference.

If I recall right, Bryan's earlier response was that we were dealing with poetical and
stylistic distinctions.  See, he doesn't force his grammar on the text either!

> There were particular conventions, such as the use of WAYYIQTOL
> in narrative, but a deviation from these conventions would not necessarily
> indicate the minute differences some persons today are ascribing to it.

But we will never know if we *have* minute differences if we don't see the variations
from the model predictions and then investigate to see if they are significant.  I see
perfectly logical cases to be made for the weqatal to be off-line information in the
relating of the dream.  And, if you read the note to which your first note was in
response, you will see that I very clearly noted that the data base was very small.
The implication, which I didn't feel I needed to express, was that the conclusions
were very weak.


Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
Ibanag Translation Project
Cabagan, Philippines

zellmer at faith.edu.ph

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