SV: Help on differences between BH & MH

Søren Holst sh at
Sun Feb 18 06:24:10 EST 2001

Hi Ian

To talk of the Bible containing "proto-Mishnaic" Hebrew might be rather
overstating the case. Mishnaic Hebrew differs far more from any brand of
Biblical Hebrew, than the Hebrew of Biblical texts ever differ from each

The most wide-spread term is "Late Biblical Hebrew", I think, and while some
doubt that the difference between "Late" and "Classical Biblical Hebrew" is
necessarily a chronological one, there's general agreement that two slightly
but distinctly differing brands of Hebrew are there. An introduction can be
found on p. 112-29 of Sáenz-Badillos, A., A History of the Hebrew Language,
Cambridge: CUP, 1993 - for further study, a good beginning would be to
compare Polzin, R., Late Biblical Hebrew. Toward an Historical Typology of
Biblical Hebrew Prose, Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1976 to Rendsburg, G.,
'Late Biblical Hebrew and the Date of  "P"', JANES 12, 1980, p. 65-80. If
you want to exercise your Modern Hebrew, this field of research was pretty
much invented by prof. Avi hurvitz in his dissertation beyn lashon lelashon
[The Transition Period in Biblical Hebrew], Jerusalem: Mossad Bialiq, 1972.

If you want to look into Mishnaic Hebrew proper, there is the grammars of
M.H. Segal or more recently M.P. Fernández, or again you could start out
with the relevant chapter of Sáenz-Badillos' History.

I assume you're aware there are chapters on the supposed proto-Mishnaic
character of Copper Scroll and MMT respectively in DJD III (Milik) and DJD X


> -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
> I was wondering if anyone could help me with regard to those features of
> books like Canticles and Ecclesiastes that lead some people to call the
> Hebrew in them proto-Mishnaic Hebrew. Of the few features I've read about,
> $l can be found in Ct in place of '$r l-, but, of a quick browse for
> nunation rather than mimation to indicate masc. plur., I could see no
> examples. What other linguistic items should I be looking for? (I'm trying
> to evaluate a dating argument regarding the Copper Scroll which wants to
> see
> that text as extremely late based on the form of Hebrew.)

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