Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at
Fri Feb 16 13:36:11 EST 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jonathan D. Safren [mailto:yon_saf at]
> Sent: Friday, February 16, 2001 11:28
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know
> > But it
> > seems to me that the way the NT uses the HB has implications for
> > philology and other related matters.  What are your thoughts?
> >
> Someone on this list has already said it: It's important for 
> the history of
> interpretation, as is Rabbinic Midrash, Qumran Peshers and whatever.
> R. Saadiah Gaon, in the 8th century CE, laid the groundwork 
> for comparative
> Semitics, and his work is therefore important for the history of
> interpretation.
> But who would use his commentary today as an authoritative 
> source on Semitic
> philology?

Well, Gaon was a pioneer for modern philology to be sure. However, Matthew
was before the 70 AD fall of Jerusalem. Was he not thus familiar with a
Hebrew language which maintained some significant degree of continuity with
Biblical Hebrew? At least much more so than Gaon, or even the Targums. From
a secular standpoint, i would assume that while Matthew's interpretation (or
Jesus or Paul, as Hebrew Rabbis) might not be final, it should at least be
worthy of discussion. I can't see any scholarly reason why it should be
categorically dismissed. 

Further, since such interpretations are significant to Christians for
understanding the Hebrew Bible, it's actually impossible to exclude them
entirely from consideration unless the Christian interpretation is
dismissed/excluded a priori. If one is willing to discuss the viability of
only those interpretative alternatives which are non-Christian, then that
should be one's own, self-imposed decision.

Dan Wagner

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