[b-hebrew] Dahood on `ecah, derek, mow$ab

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Oct 1 16:31:13 EDT 2003

On 01/10/2003 12:42, Dave Washburn wrote:

> ...
>Dahood's approach really threw the scholarly world for a loop when it first 
>appeared, because his extensive use of Ugaritic in his lexicography stood the 
>field on its collective ear.  Some of his proposals are speculative, as Peter 
>suggested; however, Ugaritic exists and we need to deal with it.  
>Unfortunately, that means that a lot of folks' houses of cards come tumbling 
>down if Dahood's approach is viable.  Hence, the scholarly world has done 
>with Dahood's commentaries on Psalms what it frequently does with drastic new 
>ideas based on new evidence: it has ignored them in favor of Qumran and the 
>versions (again, see Peter's response).
I don't think this is fair. Dahood's reconstructions were not ignored 
arbitrarily. Before Dahood's commentaries were published, his 
methodology of reliance on a cognate language had already, along with 
all other etymological approaches to determining the meaning of words, 
been thoroughly weighed in the balance and found seriously wanting by 
James Barr, e.g. in "The Semantics of Biblical Language" (1961). Most 
scholars have accepted Barr's arguments and so rejected such etymologising.

>Dahood in his lifetime was aware of this trend; in a festschrift for Cyrus H. 
>Gordon he wrote an article, "Ugaritic and Phoenician or Qumran and the 
>Versions" (_Orient and Occident: Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon on the 
>Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday_, ed. by Harry A. Hoffner, Jr.  AOAT 22 
>Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1973, p. 53-58) in which he argued 
>strongly that evidence from the Palestinian/Canaanite languages, Ugaritic and 
>Phoenician, is much more important and useful than the Qumran materials for 
>understanding the HB.  I highly recommend it.
I haven't read this. It does sound interesting. But does Dahood, writing 
twelve years after Barr, give a convincing answer to Barr's criticism of 
his methodology?

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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