<wayyiqtol> again

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Tue Dec 28 18:30:28 EST 1999

Galia Hatav wrote:

>Dear Rolf,
>You wrote:
>>I generally accept your demonstration of WAYYIQTOL as a R-building form in
>>your corpus, but  I dispute that you can extrapolate this to the whole
>>Bible corpus, and that this is an inherrent semantic property of WAYYIQTOL.
>>I rather ascribe its R-building ability to the nature of the narrative
>>itself (and the versatility of the conjunction waw). Only when you can
>>demonstrate the universal R-building property of WAYYIQTOL in *all* the
>>kinds of material found in the Bible, will you have a strong case for the
>>R-building being the semantic meaning of WAYYIQTOL.
>	Tow points. First, concerning the corpus. As I wrote to Bryan
>Rocine, it has been demonstrated by Hebraists such as Ben-Hayim that in
>dealing with BH, especially with the verb forms, one needs to distinguish
>between the books from the First Temple period and the books from the
>Second Temple period.  Just like we would not put into the same basket the
>temporal systems of Mishnaic and Biblical Hebrew, we must not put into the
>same basket the temporal systems of the First and the Second Temple
>periods.  However, I do agree with you that limiting the corpus to
>narratives may lead to wrong conclusions.  I chose narratives because most
>of the time one can establish temporal relations between situations, based
>on independent considerations such as causality. Relying on the text alone
>might lead to circular arguments.  I agree that prophetic and other poetic
>texts must be studied to demonstrate that <wayyiqtol> is, indeed, an
>R-building form.  In order to do that, however, one must first study poetry
>conventions in the Ancient East and mainly in BH. Unfortunately, I have not
>done that, so I will stick to my conclusions based on narratives, knowing
>that they still need to be examined in other genres (where they might be
>proven to be  inadequate, of course).

Dear Galia,

I appreciate that you accept the possibility of circularity and look out
for it. I have for some time been interested in the principles for a
diachronic study of hebrew verbs, but have found little consensus as to
which methods to use and which conclusions to draw. There can be no doubt
that the language is somewhat different in the late books of the Bible
compared with the earlier books, but I am not aware of any real evidence
that the basic structure of the verbal system changed between the first and
the last books of the Bible. If I remember correctly, Alviero some time ago
expressed the view after studying Ben Sira, that the verbal system was the
same as in the Bible, and Qimron did not describe any basic changes in the
verbal system of the DSS in his book on Qumran Hebrew (except that he
expressed some uncertainty about the role of WAYYIQTOL). My own impression
from reading the DSS (for instance the Rule of Discipline) is that the
meaning of YIQTOL, WAYYIQTOL, QATAL, and WEQATAL is exactly the same as in

Could you please tell us whether Ben-Hayim and Hurvitz and others claim
that the *semantic meaning* of YIQTOL,WAYYIQTOL, QATAL, and WEQATAL is
different in Genesis-Kings compared with the other books? In that case,
could you tell us what the difference is and what kind of evidence they
have. The questions are very important because diachronic research
evidently is a field which lends itself to circular reasoning. If we have a
theory about the verbal system which is based upon narrative accounts, and
it does not fit non-narrative books, it is tempting to claim that the
non-narrative books use another verbal system. But perhaps it is the theory
that is wrong! There *may* be more than one system, and therefore it is
important to hear the claims and see the evidence. To relate this to your
definition of WAYYIQTOL: Are you saying that we cannot test your definition
of this form in any of the biblical books except Genesis-Kings? Or will you
accept a reasonable number of counter examples from these other books as a
real danger to your definition?


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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