[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53:8 lamo

Vadim Cherny vadim_lv at center-tv.net
Mon Dec 20 09:45:56 EST 2004

> >Had we possess these contexts now, I would agree with you. Since Tanakh
> >more or less all we have from that time, other texts amounting to a
> >of it, we have too little data for contextual analysis. Etymological
> >analysis is a better bet.
> >Had we the Library of Congress amount of data for Hebrew, I would agree
> >you that we have to proceed contextually.
> >
> We don't have the contexts to work from, I agree. But they did exist in
> ancient times, at least in spoken language if not in written. The
> implication is that semantic shift did take place - even if we don't
> have evidence of it. This implies that etymological analysis is
> seriously flawed.

It only implies that etymological analysis "may" be flawed. In fact, Hebrew
etymology, due to the root system, is much more stable that in Germanic
No doubt, the contemporaries, speaking the living language, knew the correct
meaning contextually. We don't possess this knowledge. Our best bet is
etymological. Or do you think four (?) entries of lamo make  a context?
I was learning English largely contextually, with little of formal grammar,
and from some point without vocabulary. I can tell you empirically that
meaning even of nouns is not clear from few instances. Service words, like
lamo, need dozens of instances to clarify the meaning. Etymology is the best
we have for Hebrew, though not without shortcomings.

> If you are not convinced, follow George's excellent advice and read
> James Barr.

Why do you assume I didn't? Barr's most cherished concern is protection of
the sacred pasture of theology from outsiders. He is perfectly willing to
infuse his theological views in the semantics instead of reading the plain

Vadim Cherny

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