[b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics

Michael Abernathy mabernathy at isot.com
Thu Jun 3 23:42:20 EDT 2004

At the beginning of the discussion I asked if anyone had done a study of the historical development of the language.  That would be a big help.  For example, if you were reading a passage in English that used thee, thou, knoweth, etc. You would have reason to believe that the language was archaic.  Some authors have attempted to imitate an older style by including these in their works; however, I have noted that they rarely use them correctly and when they do they tend to use anachronistic terms in other passages.
In Hebrew, one way we might make this determination would be by a combination of comparative language studies and a comparison with other texts that are supposed to be contemporary.  You might find that some of the earlier works use words in a way that corresponds to an earlier language such as Ugaritic.  If in all the later works the word is either lacking or has a different meaning, that might suggest a chronological difference.  Another consideration would be the influence of other languages on the books of the Bible.  While it might be naive to assume that all Aramaic influence occurred after the Babylonian captivity, we should expect a stronger Aramaic influence after 580 BC.  
    I really don't know how exacting a study could be made, but one should at least be able to determine some general trends in the language.
Michael Abernathy
>The trouble with Hebrew, and other written languages of the past, is knowing
what is dialectal or chronological variation and what is simply a different
choice in vocabulary or grammar.  How do you tell if writer A uses word 'X'
and writer B uses word 'Y' because they were two equally valid choices
available to all speakers, or whether they represent a change in vocabulary
because of different dialects or time?

Kevin Riley>

>-----Original Message-----
>From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
>[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Michael
>    Actually, I did not suggest that the texts were all written at
>one time and place.  I suggested that discernable lingusitic
>differences should exist and that it should be possible to find
>evidence of that in the text. I proposed looking at those areas
>where scribes misinterpreted some passage because of linguistic
>change because I believe those who do not accept an early origin
>for any part of the Hebrew Bible would assume that some of the
>differences were deliberate imitation of earlier texts to make
>them look ancient.  Others appeared to suggest that the Hebrew
>language was homogenous. I reject that.  My speculation concerning
>the time and place of writing was in response to the idea that the
>language was homogenous. In essence, I was saying that it would be
>unnatural for Biblical Hebrew to be free of dialectal differences.
>I proposed some possible explanations for why Biblical Hebrew
>could be uniform, but I rejected them.  I argued and continue to
>argue that we do find differences in the text due to language
>development and regional variations in usage.
>Such differences should contribute some small amount of evidence
>concerning the origin of the text.  If as others seemed to
>suggest, no differences in the language exist, then that also
>suggests something concerning the origin of the text.
>Michael Abernathy
>>   This may have been so, but, some would say, more likely not have
>> been so. In short, sheer speculation, like much that has been
>> speculated on this subject.
>>   Uri
>Absolutely. My point is that my speculation is no less likely than
>Michael's that the texts were all written at one time and place, and we
>have no way of knowing which is true.
>> */Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>/* wrote:
>>     the kind of model I have in mind is:
>>     1) Deuteronomy was written at one time and place.
>>     2) The other literature e.g. much of Joshua-Kings which so clearly
>>     echoes the languages and themes of Deuteronomy was written at a later
>>     time, and potentially a different place, in imitation, either
>>     deliberate
>>     or accidental, of Deuteronomy.
>>     Therefore, Michael's stylistic argument that Deuteronomy and
>>     Joshua-Kings were written at one time and place fails.
>Peter Kirk
>peter at qaya.org (personal)
>peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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