[b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Jun 4 01:33:57 EDT 2004


One of the problems in trying to date the development of Biblical Hebrew is the limited corpus that is presented to us. It is too limited for us to make a good determination.

For example, when looking at the Gezar calendar, I found the word (CD עצד which is not found in Tanakh. From the context, it looks like a verb, probably meaning to ret, a common term in flax growing country, as ancient Israel was. I then ask, how many other common terms in society never made it into Tanakh? How many terms were used in Ugaritic, but never made it into Tanakh until a late writer, if at all?  How many of the differences that we notice are merely dialectal? We need many more examples of writing before we can make that determination.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Abernathy" <mabernathy at isot.com>

> Kevin,
> 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.
> Sincerely,
> 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>
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