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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat Oct 11 18:26:41 EDT 2003

On 11/10/2003 13:19, Karl Randolph wrote:

>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.
And, personally, I believe in one God... If that is the kind of creed or 
belief you are talking about, I'm not going to shake you with any 
arguments or evidence. I will just say that your creed seems a rather 
unusual one.

>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.
Thanks for sharing your interesting background. I sympathise with you 
feeling like a stranger in a strange land. But in a way you are very 
postmodernist in believing what you believe without caring whether there 
is evidence or not. Perhaps I should let you believe it in peace. Well, 
I would if you didn't argue so fiercely with those who don't share your 

>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”.
OK, you are probably right. But I don't see what other key there is to 
the past, unless that past is a purely speculative reconstruction based 
on almost no evidence. Maybe that's true of all reconstructions of the 
past. But if so, don't we have to resign ourselves to "history is bunk"?

>Karl W. Randolph.

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

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list