targums (Paul)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Sat May 15 19:12:46 EDT 1999

At 05.35 16/05/99 +0800, Paul Zellmer wrote:
>Ian Hutchesson wrote:
>> At 11.17 15/05/99 -0500, Jack Kilmon wrote:
>> >This is too simplistic an analysis of the language usage of the DSS.
>> Yes, a thousand texts and less than two hundred Aramaic ones. That's pretty
>> simple. Three dialects of Hebrew. Two of Aramaic.
>> >I see 20% of the texts in Aramaic as very significant.
>> Well, yes. Perhaps a fifth of the population used Aramaic.
>IMHO, it is *you* that has the faulty logic here.  You are taking a body of 
>evidence from a single community and generalizing it for the entire

Unfortunately, Paul, this is part of the DSS mythology. There is no reason
to believe that the DSS represents a single community or that it has any
special significance for Qumran other than that that was the place where
the collection was found.

As you know there are two languages involved as well as various dialects of
each. Therefore the DSS are not from a *single speech community*. The myth
of the DSS being written at Qumran is clearly false -- as is made blatantly
obvious by the 800 odd scribal hands indicating that there is no specific
scribal tradition to be found amongst the scrolls and far too many
different and unrepeated hands.

>While it may be (and quite likely is) the case that the Qumran community
>Hebrew extensively, maybe even almost exclusively, that in no way demands 
>that the community was a representative of the populus as a whole.  And, 
>were the Qumran community primarily Hebrew, the presence of 20% Aramaic 
>*is very* significant.

The logic is based on faulty assumptions. There is no way to justify the
"Qumran community" hypothesis. It is not born out in the scribal evidence
or the linguistic evidence.

>You're going to say that I'm guessing, but you keep failing to acknowledge 
>that you, too, are guessing and generalizing without specific evidences.  

No, actually I think you're wrong -- at least with what you've said here.

>In fact, you are ignoring the fact that the targums were indeed written, 
>and written for some purpose.
>If Hebrew was so predominant in the populus in general, then please explain 
>the need for Aramaic targums?

Still the same assumptions that I think are wrong.

>As far as Jack's Latin illustration, that pattern has the support of 
>holding true in other cultures that had an "elitist" language.  

The elitism has not in fact been demonstrated other than that these are
texts and therefore require an "elite society" to produce them, but that is
the case with all such texts and therefore we aren't saying anything in

>example, if one were to look at the legal and educational texts of the 
>Philippines, one would conclude that English is by far the predominate 
>language.  The fact of the matter is that, while almost all the people 
>know some English, few are comfortable with it, and even fewer speak it 
>as their primary language.  

As the basics of the thought have in no way been established another
example of the same analogy not demonstrated as being appropriate doesn't
help us. The popular mythology surrounding the DSS as supported by numerous
scholars has never been demonstrated as having any validity. In the last
forty years it has got us no further in understanding the scrolls and
mainline DSS scholars are now looking to deal with the scrolls along
different lines. 

>Both of you are guessing, but Jack is the 
>only one of you that at least admits it.

Paul, my position was outlined previously. I saw at least three ways of
dealing with the information that we have and that Jack was only seeing one
and allowing no room for any other. I prefer another, but at least I gave
the three for consideration. I think the DSS, not being the texts of some
weird bunch of hermits, throws the weight behind the Hebrew proposition,
while there is very little to support the Aramaic.


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