JER 27:18

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Thu Sep 23 01:46:50 EDT 1999

Henry Churchyard wrote:

>Sperber is a little strange as far as phonology goes, and I didn't
>find his big book very useful when beginning work on my dissertation.
>From the fact that there are a few contexts in which either s at ghol or
>s.ere can appear, he concludes that there is actually no difference at
>all between s at ghol or s.ere!  I think he ends up reducing Hebrew down
>to about three or four vowels...  ;-)

Dear Henry,

I agree with your observations above. I would further say that Sperber's
conclusions that all the variants in the MT stems from different Hebrew
dialects can hardly be upheld in the light of all the discoveries after his
time. However, his writings are valuable for three reasons:

1) He started as a believer in traditional grammar, but he was forced to
abandon this belief because of his study of old witnesses of the Masoretic
2) He gathered a lot of the passages in the Bible which do not conform with
traditional grammar, and a defence of this grammar without having
scrutinized these examples obviously lacks an important element.
3) He unveiled the important methodological flaw which both is found in
modern textual and grammatical studies, that traditional grammar is used as
the basic premise; thus making the enterprises circular.

Those who work with the meaning of the Hebrew verbal system should not
neglect the reading of Sperber's writings.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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