[b-hebrew] linguistics, was Re: Prov. 30:19

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Sat Oct 11 16:19:57 EDT 2003

Dear Peter:

The question is not whether people have changed, but of the nature of evidence. The latter is the philosophical difference.

I personally believe that the 22 characters in ancient Hebrew represent the original 22 consonental phonemes. I also believe that ancient Hebrew was very conservative in not splitting those phonemes into separate phonemes until relatively late, in contrast to cognate languages. I also believe, based on internal evidence and literary styles, that when Moses “authored” Genesis, he basically collected earlier documents, even antediluvian documents, written with the original 22 character alphabet, to make one book.

Yet, I’ll have to acknowledge that my objection to translating (LMH as “virgin” in Proverbs 30:19 is based on the expectation that people and nature have not changed from then till now. As a father with three sons, I should know something about the sex drive. Even about the sex act. As a man whose wife left him so that he had to bring his sons up as a single father, I am very conscious of the fact that I am a father. As a person who grew up in forest and glen, swamp, mountain and desert, seaside yet in foreign countries such that I had a fluent knowledge of two foreign languages before age 16, whose family was of a scientific leaning such that his physicist grandfather was given an academic defermant (he was a college teacher who had to carry around a Manhattan Project draft card) from the Manhattan Project, I am equally at home tracking a deer in the forest as with discussing philosophy in German, whose dyslexia was a blessing in disguise in that it forces me constantly to e
 valuate grammar, logic and meaning, whose interest in history is almost insatiable, who became a bookworm as ours was the only family in neighborhood and extended family who did not have a TV until after I was a teenager (even now I still don’t like watching TV, I usually don’t even listen to radio), in view of all of the above, I do not fit into a typical postmodernist Westerner. In fact, I feel very much like a stranger in a strange land. Who among our mailing list has read Tenakh 20 times in Hebrew?  I can’t prove that I have, for I lost count close to two decades ago, but I now find it easier to read it with pre-Galut-Babel glyphs and an unpointed text than when using modern Aramaic square glyphs and all the points. The grammar and meanings make more sense that way.

Getting back onto subject, I have yet to see any convincing data that indicates that the present is the key to the past. Let me emphasize again, the philosophical difference is whether or not the present is the key to the past. I say “No” and I think you say “Yes”.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>

> On 10/10/2003 15:47, Karl Randolph wrote:
> >Dear Peter:
> >
> >I think I recognize where our differences lie: it is philosophic with linguistic overtones, and not linguistic per se.
> >
> >...
> >
> >Do you agree that we are dealing with differences that are more philosophical than linguistic? If so, we should leave off arguing as linguistic arguments will not resolve philosophical differences.
> >
> >Karl W. Randolph.
> >
> >  
> >
> If you philosophy is that over the past 1000-3000 years there has been 
> such a fundamental change in human nature, intelligence, language 
> capabilities etc (even sex drives if you don't understand the issue of 
> the way of a man with a girl) that we cannot assume any similarity 
> between ancient and modern human beings, yes your philosophy does differ 
> from mine, and the difference will not be resolved quickly. I think you 
> will find plenty of evidence against your position in ancient texts 
> which show that ancient humans were very like modern ones except for the 
> technology etc. But it takes more than evidence to change basic 
> philosophical presuppositions.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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