reading unpointed Hebrew text, was [b-hebrew] Isaiah 53:8
peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Dec 17 06:17:47 EST 2004
On 17/12/2004 00:55, Moshe Shulman wrote:
> At 07:30 PM 12/16/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>> ... I prefer to read the unpointed text as it often makes more sense.
> Karl, this is very true. I am quite fluent, and I find that it is
> easier to read the texts that do not have vowels then the ones that
> do. Most of the printed Hebrew texts do not have vowels.
Karl and Moshe, I can understand that this might well be true when you
already have a good idea of what a text is supposed to mean, because you
already know the story rather well from yeshiva or Sunday school. And
this would surely have been true of readers from the late second Temple
time until just before the Masoretes, as I suppose in those times only
those already well educated in the Bible would have been allowed to read
the precious scrolls.
But can you honestly say that you would be able to read with full
understanding, and no ambiguity, an unpointed biblical Hebrew text with
which you had no previous familiarity, and which included some rather
difficult words and constructions? I'm not sure how good an example this
is, but what about the book of Sirach, if you are not already familiar
with it? Or newly released Dead Sea Scrolls? Of course here you have to
allow for a little language change. But are there not material
uncertainties in the readings of such texts because they are preserved
(at least in Hebrew) only in unpointed form?
In other words, is your fluency more a tribute to your excellent Bible
knowledge than to your ability to read the text?
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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