[b-hebrew] Basic question on Qal, Piel, and Pual

Yigal Levin Yigal-Levin at utc.edu
Tue Jul 22 16:33:10 EDT 2003

Hi Waldo,

When I first learned Akkadian, we used transliteration first, and then went
on to cuneiform. The idea was, that we should first get a feel for the
language, grammar etc. through a medium that we would feel comfortable. We
also learned that Akkadien has two dialects - German and American. In other
words, EVERYTHING that we learn about a dead language is reconstructed, as
best as scholars are able. 
In the case of Hebrew, any attempt to understand the "biblical" text
"as-is" would be a reconstruction of its own. We have very little
"internal" evidence of the difference between Qal and Piel. In fact,
remember that even the consonantal text that we have is the product of
later transmission - we just don't have the "untouched" original text.
However in the case of Hebrew, we do have a tradition of pronunciation
going back 1500 years, much closer to the source than we are. To me, this
is the obvious place to start. Once we learn what the Masoretes had to tell
us about the text, we can then also reasonably question them.


At 12:04 PM 7/22/2003 -0700, waldo slusher wrote:
>I really appreciate the responses and suggestions on
>what to do and read next. I plan on following much of
>what you all have suggested, both on-line and
>I wasn't trying to open a can of worms with my last
>question, but was seeking clarification. 
>My only hesitancy in learning OT Hebrew with the
>Masoretic's interpretive vowel points is that I feel
>like I am learning OT Hebrew ONE STEP REMOVED FROM IT.
>If, for example, the PUAL and PIEL had the same
>consonantal FORMS, and the Masoretics determined when
>a verb was PIEL and not PUAL, then I feel like I am
>not study the ORIGINAL LANGUAGE; I am learning what
>the Masoretics thought of the text. 
>Suppose I invented a completely new set of vowel
>points today. Then I read the OT, and whenever I
>thought a verb was PUAL, I so marked it. My
>interpretation of whether or not it is in fact a PUAL
>seems like something that should take place in a
>commentary, not in the text itself, and not in a
>grammar book.
>And please keep in mind that I am very new to OT
>Hebrew, so I am aware that I may be a bit naive in my
>thought process. It's just that the accent marks in
>Greek have always been a source of irritation to me;
>why they were invented I'll never understand. In my
>opinion, you gain nothing by learning the accent
>Hope that clarifies what I asked. And again, thank you
>for your thoughtful responses.
>Waldo Slusher
>Calgary, AB
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Dr. Yigal Levin
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga TN 37403-2598

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