qumran (was ruth)

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Sat May 22 20:18:28 EDT 1999

Please, Rolf, don't try to shift the argument on to other matters. The 
discussion about Habakkuk is not about WEQATAL, and I am not prepared 
to give a definite answer on that one. And I was only suggesting as a 
possibility that WAYYIQTOL may have been a pointing error for 
WEYIQTOL, so I am not going to defend that option either - except to 
say that it is odd for you, after claiming before that WAYYIQTOL and 
WEYIQTOL are phonetically identical, to say now that they must have 
been so phonetically distinct that the Masoretes "could hardly err at 
all" by mishearing one for the other. I would suggest that the 
originally distinct forms had become so similar by Masoretic times 
that they were rather easily confused. But then that is NOT the basis 
of my main argument. My main point, which you have failed to answer, 
is to invalidate the falsification which you claim to have provided of 
the hypothesis that WAYYIQTOL is a past tense, by pointing out that 
your supposed example of future WAYYIQTOL is not unambuguously 

You wrote: "You turn the situation upside down when you say that I beg 
the question because 1, until the opposite is proved, assume that all 
prefixforms have the same semantic meaning (I exclude modality). It is 
you who have the onus of proof!" Well, possibly so if I were putting 
forward a new theory. But the position I am taking is broadly the 
historical consensus of most writers and of ancient translations. I 
think it is for you, if not necessarily to disprove this theory, to 
put forward an alternative which is more convincing - I doubt if we 
can find formal proof here. To me, such a theory would need to explain 
the forms WAYYIQTOL (shortened form only), YIQTOL (short/jussive), 
YIQTOL (full), WEYIQTOL (short), WEYIQTOL (full), QATAL and WEQATAL, 
and also their distribution among material which is past, present and 
future, non-volitive, volitive and otherwise modal, and whatever other 
variables you wish to claim. The theory I have can (more or less) tell 
me why WAYYIQTOL is used here and why full YIQTOL there etc etc. - at 
least in terms of temporal setting etc if not in etymological terms. I 
admit that this theory has its problems. But any advance you might 
make needs to come up with a better theory with fewer problems which 
answers the same questions. I think you are still a long way from 
doing this, and I still suspect (but cannot prove in advance) that you 
are not likely to make good progress while you continue to presuppose 
(despite the differences both in form and in distribution in temporal 
settings) that WAYYIQTOL (shortened) is semantically no more than 
conjunction plus YIQTOL (full form).

Peter Kirk

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