The "times" of Isaiah

Tue Sep 28 03:50:27 EDT 1999

        Dear Rolf,
        I also attempt to analyse the verb forms in terms of speech (S), 
        event (E), and reference (R) times.  If I understand you 
        correctly, you are saying that in the _koh 'amar yhwh_ formula S 
        and R are the same, producing present "meaning".  What I am trying 
        to determine is how you would analyse E in such cases.  It seems 
        to me that your syllogism is as follows:
        Major premise: If the formula represents God's voice, then 'amar 
        has a present meaning.
        Minor premise: The formula represents God's voice (see your examples 
        from Jeremiah).
        Conclusion: 'amar has a present meaning.
        Your reasoning is perfectly sound, but it is the major premise 
        which I am questioning.  In some instances, as Krispenz notes and 
        as you yourself seem to admit, there are cases where a present 
        meaning is excluded.  But this overturns your major premise and 
        thus the syllogism is invalid.
> In 33:19 it is said that the formula is directed "to Jeremiah", and by same
> way of reasoning by which we conclude that the words "to me" exclude
> present meaning, we must conclude that "to Jeremiah" excludes past meaning
> or even something similar to English Perfect.
        I don't follow your reasoning here.  What is it about "to 
        Jeremiah" that excludes a past meaning?
Another point is that the
> prophets seem to be God's mouthpiece, and I think that both past meaning
> and what corresponds to English perfect are *lame* compared with the
> forceful "Thus SAYS YHWH" (I have not yet had time to read Krispenz'
> article).
        A number of grammarians (e.g. Pardee, JCL Gibson, etc.) take the 
        formula as reflecting "the prophetic consciousness of having 
        received a message from Y." (Davidson-Gibson, para. 57 rem. 3).  
        This is perfectly compatible with the view that the prophets are 
        God's mouthpiece.  The crucial point, it seems to me, is 
        determining the time of the event (E) referred to.  I think we can 
        account for the data in a much simpler way by saying that the 
        formula refers to a past event in all cases, rather than saying 
        that it refers to a past event in some cases (cf. the examples in 
        Krispenz) while in other cases it has a present meaning.  The 
        article by Krispenz is well worth reading.
        Max Rogland
        Leiden University

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list