Fw: The "times" of Isaiah

Paul Zellmer zellmer at digitelone.com
Fri Aug 13 13:11:02 EDT 1999

I messed up and forgot to change the address of this post to include the
whole list.  So I'm forwarding it to you all now.

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Zellmer <zellmer at digitelone.com>
To: Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no>
Sent: Saturday, August 14, 1999 1:07 AM
Subject: Re: The "times" of Isaiah

> Rolf,
> It's interesting that you, not holding to the "traditional
> four-component model," are once again making a blanket statement about
> the large numbers of problematic forms.  Because you fail to give the
> details so we can check your methods and results, how is anyone
> to respond?  This is especially necessary, because I see in the few
> specifics that you do give either an error in your methods or the
> working as the model predicts.
> First, a methodological error:  You specifically classify KOH )FMFR
> YHWH as QATAL with present meaning.  You wrote:
> > 201 QATALs with present meaning (including 22% with the words "Thus
> says YHWH")
> How do you arrive at this "timing" determination?  Is it based only on
> the common English (and perhaps other European language) texts?  Is
> there really anything in the Hebrew text to prevent it from being
> translated, "Thus said YHWH"?  I was taught that the use of the
> in cases results in a more vivid text, but that is an *English* rule.
> And, while this argument cannot be considered definitive, we have
> illustrations from other two-conjugation languages that use the
> past-time form in this type idiom.  For example, the Ibanag language
> the Philippines would state the phrase as, "Yaw i kinagi ni Yahwe,"
> "This [is] the thing said by YHWH."  I see no problem in taking these
> QATALs as completed actions.  If your other counts use similar
> methodology, your reported data is extremely suspect.
> Next, while I am not completely sold on Peter's exegesis of Is
> I do not see where the theory is at all surprised by what is found
> there.  Basically, we are looking at a passage that describes a
> "time-less" situation, rather than a description of a single actual
> occurrence in past, present, or future times.  So we would expect a
> language to handle that situation in manner dictated by the "rules" of
> that language, not the "rules" of another language.  Where is there a
> problem with the translation that follows? (I deliberately left it
> n, and I'm going to start a couple of verses earlier to give a
> although I actually see the discourse starting earlier and ending
> later.)
> Is 44:9-17
> Formers of idol--all of them [are] nothingness,
>    and the treasured things of them will not help,
> And their witnesses--they will not see and they will not know,
>    such that they will be ashamed.
> Who formed a god, and an idol he poured
>    so as not to help?
> Behold, all his company will be ashamed,
>    and craftsmen--they [are] out of man
> May they assemble together, all of them; may they stand;
>    may they tremble; may they be ashamed all together.
> The craftsman of iron, an adze,
>    and he would work with charcoal,
> And with hammers he would fashion it,
>    so he worked it with the power of his strength.
> Also he was hungry and there was no strength,
>    he did not drink water, and he came to be tired.
> The craftsman of wood stretched out a line
>    [that] he might outline him in red chalk,
> [that] he might make him with knives,
>    and with a compass he might outline him.
> And he made him as [the] shape of man,
>    as [the] beauty of man for sitting quietly [in a] house.
> To cut for himself cedars,
>    and he took conifer and oak,
> And he strengthened for himself in the trees of the thicket,
>    *he planted laurel* and rain made grow.
> And it would become for a man for burning up,
>    and he took from them and became warm,
>    also he would kindle and would bake bread,
> Also he would make a god and he worshipped it;
>    *he made it an idol* and he bowed down to it.
> Half he burned in a fire,
>    upon half flesh he would eat,
>    *he would roast roasted meat* and would be satisfied
> Also he would become warm and might say, "Aha,
>    I was warmed, I saw fire."
> And the remainder of it for a god he made, for his idol
>    [that] he might bow down to it and might worship
> And might pray unto it and might say,
>    "Deliver me, because my god [are] you."
> As far as I know, everything here except the clauses noted by * * in
> verses 14, 15, and 16 was handled in accordance with the theory as
> developed in prose.
> --In verse twelve, the weqatals and X-yiqtols (translated with the
> auxiliary "would") were handled as frequentatives or procedurals.  The
> use of this form is not really surprising, since that form basically
> transcends specific instances in historical literature, i.e., it is
> basically "time-less".
> --In verse thirteen, the yiqtols are treated as modals, giving the
> purpose for the stretching of the line.
> --In verse fifteen, the weqatals/X-yiqtols are again frequentative.
> --In verse sixteen, the weqatal/X-yiqtols are again frequentative.  I
> took the weyiqtol as modal.
> --In verse seventeen, I took the weyiqtols as modal.
> This leaves only three "surprises" out of the passage you put forward
> being very troubling to the theory.  Hardly something to fall on one's
> sword over.  And even these three have a pattern to them that might
> demonstrate a "rule" that does not appear in prose.  In verses 14 and
> 15, we see a clause-initial qatal starting a second strophe of a
> parallelism, a parallelism that is in the wayyiqtol/X-qatal structure.
> Similarly, in verse 16, it appears as if a clause initial yiqtol is
> playing the same type function in a weqatal/X-yiqtol structure.  (A
> modal just didn't make good sense here!)  So perhaps there *is* a rule
> that acts similarly to the clause initial qatals that mark direct
> historical narratives in direct discourses, allowing for clause
> qatals and yiqtols to be used at the start of second strophes of
> parallel forms.
> Conclusion, Rolf:  If this text is truly a good example of problematic
> forms as you have identified them, I don't see a real concern to the
> theory.  Oh, it was a good exercise, because it demonstrated where the
> common translations have missed some of the nuances, but the theory
> seemed to handle it fine.
> As far as the Isaiah 2 passage, about which you wrote:
> > A comparison of Isaiah 2:17 and 2:11 may show us something to look
> in
> > our studies. In v 17 we find three WEQATALs with future meaning. In
> 11 we
> > find a verse with exactly the same words (save a detail or two). The
> > setting here is also future, and this is expressed by the same two
> > WEQATALs, but the third WEQATAL in v 17 is in v 11 a QATAL.
> I found your description to be a bit misleading.  (I'm sure it was
> unintentional.)  What I expected to see in verse 11, based on your
> description, was WEQATAL, WEQATAL, X-QATAL.  What is actually there is
> X-QATAL, WEQATAL, WEQATAL.  And I think you have unwittingly
> the reason for X-QATAL here.  Sure, the waw could not attach to the
> because of the X element, but that isn't the important question to ask
> here.  The question you should have asked is, if verse 17 uses the
> WEQATAL form for all three, why does the verb remain QATAL when the
> subject moves in front of it?
> I believe you would find that discourse theory has an explanation for
> this, in that the unexpected form marks the start of the most
> part of that discussion that YHWH is having with the people.  To use
> discourse term, 2:11 starts the peak
> of the discourse.  The normal form would have been WEQATAL.  If the
> subject needed to be brought into greater focus, normally an X-YIQTOL
> would have been used.  So, when the readers/hearers came across the
> X-QATAL instead, it shocked them from whatever lethargy they had
> into.
> Is the X-QATAL future here?  Yep.  But it's pragmatic because of its
> role in the discourse.  Your syntax "explanation" does not give any
> grounds to predict other occurrences or to interpret other instances
> where this phenomenon is found.
> Yours,
> Paul Zellmer

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