nehemiah, minimalism: giuseppe, ian

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Thu Mar 8 01:51:01 EST 2001

Thanks Vince for your post.

>to the extent that i can string out the development of the
>hebrew language (roughly five strata, with finer distinctions), the *bulk*
>of ezra-nehemiah is in stratum V, with ecclesiastes and most of song of
>songs. unfortunately, stratum V is the most complex, currently, for me to
>sort. ;-) what i want to do is work out the relations between stratum V
>and material from the dead sea scrolls, e.g.

If we look at the scrolls we find at least three dialects of Hebrew, a
literary one "BH", a common one "QH", and a rarer variety, related to
rabbinical literature "MH". There are also some interesting shades between.
Some people have tended to say that BH is before the Qumran literature, that
QH is an attempt to be literary and that MH was more reflective of the
language in contemporary usage. This of course doesn't deal with the
evidence as I see it. The QH texts show signs that pronunciation is
important to the writers and that they were attempting to get them
pronounced correctly, ie to them QH was a spoken language. The evidence
seems to support that we have literature from different contempoary dialects
from different speech communities rather than dialects reflective of
different periods. All this is to say, why can't features that you have

worked with reflect not chronological differences (your "strata") but
differences in speech communities?

(One may ask how a text like 1QIsaiahA could end up in the form it is and
neither standard BH or QH. How for example did it gets its nunation?)

>lot to be said for lateral thinking (a la E. de Bono, etc). you
>may know about the position here at u. of toronto: in any case, i've been

(I don't understand the term "short-listed".)

>harnassing the power of the computer and statistics, to study very fine
>variation in large corpora ... i will put a version of that paper on the
>internet in MSWord format for downloading.

I for one will look forward to it.

>briefly, nehemiah 1-4 exhibits traits that i associate with stratum III
>(ca. 500-400); but the bulk looks like stratum V. so that 's interesting.
>also interesting is that there is clear evidence of different aramaic
>dialects in ezra-nehemiah (i haven't seen a treatment of this: maybe you
>know something?).

Although not a dialect analysis, perhaps you might be interested in the
response that David Talshir wrote to Sara Japhet. She had written in VT 18
(1968) pp.330ff that the language of Chr is sufficiently different from
Ezra/Neh to say that they weren't by the same author. Talshir reanalysed the
language VT 38 (1988) pp.165ff, saying that, excluding the Nehemiah Memoir
(which he takes to be a lot bigger than Neh 1-4), there is not sufficient
difference in language for Japhet to be able to make her conclusion. He
gives over 60 linguistic manifestations including syntax and lexis and shows
that while NM is clearly different, the rest of Ezra/Neh is quite

I have another article (or two) in the back of my head with a title like
"Chronicles as a partially translated text", which I can hunt up if you're
interested. The author I remember was arguing that the Chr writer was an
Aramaic speaker.

>so one thing that i want to do this summer is work up an
>exhaustive "dialect geography" a la corpus linguistics, and see how the
>chips fall.... both for the hebrew and aramaic...
>but i suppose you can forgive me for not giving away the specifics till i
>get *some* of this published.... ;-)  (hopefully, very soon.)

But when it hits the fan, you'll let us know, right?

>[..(lateral thinking)..] but i will be in the library
>tomorrow, reading up on the basic sources i've culled from bibliographies,
>and will be in a better position to judge "merit"......

I'll be joining you.


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list