The "times" of Isaiah

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Wed Aug 25 14:43:10 EDT 1999

Chalomi Balaylah wrote:

>Since I'm new to the list I'm arriving in the middle of several
>conversations.  This might be a ridiculous question, but what is (MR and
>what does RT before C mean?  I do have some idea that you're talking about
>verb tenses or lack of them expecially in relation to using the vayiQToL
>which is supposed to signify the past, but sounds more like 'and + future
>tense' to me.

Dear Elisha,

The terminology is linguistic, and the use of it helps us discuss the
nature of a situation or event without using grammatical terms.  The letter
"C" stands for a fixed point, from which the particular action or state is
seen. It is in most cases the speech time.  An event or state has a
beginning and end, and the time between these is called "ET" ("event
time"). The letters "RT" stands for "reference time" and tells us whether
the speaker/writer sees the event in the past present or future in relation
to the present moment or some other time.

Regarding Hebrew verbs, my view is that the system is tenseless and all
forms can be used for past, present, and future, although particular forms
tend to be used in different kinds of discourse because of linguistic
convention. The opionion of Peter and Paul, with whom I often have been
discussing Hebrew verbs, is more difficult to grasp (at least for me); they
tend to avoid clearcut definitions of each verb form, because their method
is principally based on discourse analysis.  In any case, they disagree
both with my linguistic model and with  my conclusions.  The letters )MR
stands for the Hebrew letters aleph, mem, and resh (the verb 'amar).
There is a convention for transcribing the Hebrew letters, and perhaps it
is time for those responsible for the list to repeat this convention


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo


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