Questions for Rolf

Greg Doudna gdoudna at earthlink.net
Tue Apr 24 01:59:25 EDT 2001



Dear Rolf,

Thank you very much for the comments back. I have been 
thinking some more about your original post and have some 
further questions.

(1) Forgive this most basic, basic question: but what is your
basis for saying that prefix-conjugations have imperfect aspect 
and suffix-conjugations have perfect aspect? i.e. you assume
that difference in form will equal difference in meaning, then
say that meaning is an aspect system. (And I have tried carefully
to understand your definition of Hebrew aspect with its
differences from English aspect.)

But when I look at the following examples from 4QpNah,
I cannot see that aspect plays any--I mean any--role in
the choice of form used.

3-4 iii 4.
'Many will discern (yqtl) their sin, will hate them (w-qatal), and 
will loathe them (w-qatal) on account of their guilty insolence...'

These look like three aspectually identical verbs to me,
saying (essentially) the same thing three different ways for
emphasis. The notion of closeup focus with a part of the
progressive action visible, versus far-away snapshot of the
whole event without any action being visible ... I just can't
see it here.

3-4 iii 5.
'the simple ones of Ephraim will flee (yqtl) from the midst 
of their assembly and they will abandon (w-qatal) the 
ones leading them astray and will join (w-qatal) the 
God of Israel.'

Again, these read to me as two (effectively) identical
statements of the same thing followed by a subsequent
third predicted happening. I cannot see any difference
in aspect that would provoke the choices of verb
forms. 

There is a naive rule that does seem to have high
predictive value for verb forms in Qumran texts such
as this (which as a general impression seem to have
less 'complex', though not different, Hebrew than 
BH):

future--starts out yqtl and then (if not interrupted)
continues with wqatal ... wqatal... 
and in these, wqatal seem to substitute, 1 for 1 
(absolutely indistinguishable in meaning) from yqtl.

It looks like word-order and sequencing conventions
are controlling which form gets used (after the inital verb,
which in the pesharim seems almost to function as
a two-tense system, past/present and present/future).
(In the present both qatal and yqtl get used.)

3-4 iii 7
'Its interpretation concerns the Seekers-after-Smooth-Things 
whose counsel will be destroyed (yqtl), and whose 
government will be disbanded (w-qatal).' 

These seem to read as two equivalent statements
in sense, much like classic biblical Hebrew parallelism. 
There is no reason I can see for a difference in aspect
being understood by a reader from this--unless it is so
by definition as established on other grounds. (But what
are your other grounds?)

3-4 iii 7-8
'They will no longer keep on (yqtl) 
leading astray (infinitive) the assembly, and the simple 
ones will no longer strengthen (yqtl) their counsel.'

Here there is sort of another parallelism, but this one
has the negatives which interrupt, and therefore as
expected, two yqtls.  But without the negatives one
would expect yqtl ... w-qatal.  What about the
negative changes the aspect meaning? 

(2) The second question is: while intuitively it is very appealing
that the waw-conjunctive/ waw-conversive distinction is
possibly a scholarly construct that is overlaid on the data, is
it not the case that this is reflected in the MT vowel pointing?
If so, this means there was such a distinction understood at
least by the Middle Ages. In your theory did such a distinction
enter post-Qumran era? Any ideas on when and how such
a distinction arose secondarily, post-BH and post-QH?
(It is of course not necessary to have an answer to this question 
for your theory to be valid, if it is well-grounded in other ways.
This is just a question of interest.)

I'm asking these in the hope that you really are onto the Holy
Grail of a Unified Field Hebrew Verbal Theory that has
proven so elusive.  

So what is the one-paragraph (or more) explanation on
why (a) qatal/w-qatal and (b) yqtl/w-yqtl represent any intrinsic 
or consistent (uncancellable?--is that the term you use?) 
difference in aspect, as you see and define it?

Greg Doudna






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