furuli at online.no
Sun Jul 28 04:20:45 EDT 2002
If you use the word "cognates" regarding Tiamat and THWM in its
normal sense,you stand on a shaky foundation. C. Westermann wrote in
his monumental work on Genesis (Genesis 1-11 (1974), Minneapolis:
Augsburg Publishing House, p. 107):
"Tiamat in Babylonian is almost always a proper name and is only
rarely used for the ocean or the sea, which are regularly called
tamtu. Tiamat is a mythical being, and THWM never has this meaning in
the Old Testament. the phrase "upon the face of the deep" shows that
it is not a case of a mythological being but of a flood of water. It
is impossible phonetically and grammatically to derive THWM from the
Babylonian Tiamat; THWM has a masculine ending, Tiamat a feminine;
the H of the hebrew THWM cannot be explained as deriving from Tiamat."
Westermann points out that there is agreement that both words go back
to a common Semitic root (No traces of "Proto-Semitic" has ever been
found. so it is just hypothetical), and then he concludes:
"There is widespread agreement that Tiamat and THWM go back to a
common Semitic root; but the occurrence of THWM in Gen 1:2 is not an
argument for the direct dependence of the creation account of Gen 1
on Enuma Elish."
I have noted that nobody has pointed to any extra-biblical source
from the first part of the first millennium B.C.E., or even later (as
I asked for), indicating a world view of the earth fixed on pillars
in a cosmic ocean with a solid vault above. This may suggest that the
Semites never had such a world view, but that views from the Middle
Ages have been projected backwards.
University of Oslo
> >Ian, I remember you saying something recently about the etymological
>>fallacy. That is the fallacy that just because two words (in the same or
>>in cognate languages) have the same etymology, there is a relation
>>between their meaning. That fallacy potentially applies here.
>The situations are not comparable. I showed what
>was wrong in the specific case. The similarities
>only worked in isolation and not with the
>diachronic changes observed.
>The relationship between Tiamat and tehom is
>systematic in that the differences between them
>can be seen on a language-wide scale. he in
>Hebrew is null in Akkadian. Vocalic waw seems
>consistently an /a/ in Akkadian. Thematic
>feminine taw is lost in the simple form of the
>feminine noun in Hebrew. How would you say
>"his deep" in Hebrew? thwmtw perhaps?
>>may not dispute that tehom and tiamat are etymologically related.
>I didn't say "etymologically related". I said that
>they are cognates, ie they come from the same
>source (just as "caput" and "head" do).
>>does not imply that there is any relation between their meanings or
>>referents, especially in two quite remote languages with (as far as we
>>can tell) many centuries of time difference. I accept that they may be
> >related in meaning or referent. But a common etymology and a similar
> >form does not prove that.
>As they are plainly cognates, the important question
>should be what is the relationship between their
>meanings? We do this by looking at the way the terms
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