[b-hebrew] Which of the two?

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Jul 15 23:41:55 EDT 2003

Dear Yigal:

Sorry, I did not mean to imply that the Masorites invented their points out of whole cloth, i.e. that they invented the vocalizations, just that they invented the points to illustrate the vocalizations that they were using. There is indication that the vocalizations changed over time, and my understanding is that the Mazorites froze the vocalizations that were handed to them.

However, I believe that there is evidence that the vocalizations have changed over time. We find one evidence preserved in the Byzantine tradition Gospels in transliterations of names showing differences of pronunciation between Galilee and Judea. From linguistics the theory is that backward places (like Galilee) tend to preserve older pronunciations than preserved in the cultural centers, and so we find that the Masorites preserved the Judean pronunciations, i.e. those from the cultural center. I believe that other letters have changed their pronunciations as well.

Therefore I find myself questioning Masoritic vocalizations: are they accurate (some obviously are not)? However, the consonants are from an older tradition and I’m trying an experiment, do I read the text differently when not encumbered with the Masoritic dots than when they are present? So far the main difference seems to be a simplification of grammar while still getting a clear meaning. But a second difference is that I tend to concentrate on meaning instead of taking time questioning the vocalizations.

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Yigal Levin <Yigal-Levin at utc.edu>

> At 01:56 PM 7/15/2003 -0500, Karl Randolph wrote:
> >Dear Yigal:
> >
> >After reading several verses where the text made better sense using
> different dots than what the Masorites inserted, I started reading an
> unpointed text. Therefore in this question, an unpointed text supports a
> plural reading as well as singular, and the plural fits the context better.
> >
> >In the face of what I think is overwhelming contextual evidence that “my
> servants” should be read as plural, does anyone have any clue why the
> Masorites made this a singular?
> >
> Very good question, to which I do not have an answer. However, I do not
> accept your premise (if I understand it correctly), that the Masorites
> more-or-less invented the vocalization. They were heirs to a long tradition
> of reading and interpretaion. I know that there are many cases in which
> alternative readings seem to make more sense; this may be one of them. But
> before I "sign on", I want to find out if there are witnesses to a plural
> reading (such as the LXX, or DDS versions with two yods). If not, I'm
> willing to admit that here's one more text in which we find if difficult to
> understand the author's full meaning.
> Yigal
> Dr. Yigal Levin
> Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
> University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
> 615 McCallie Avenue
> Chattanooga TN 37403-2598
> U.S.A.
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