[b-hebrew] Fw: Aramaic to them?

Ken Penner pennerkm at mcmaster.ca
Wed Mar 3 15:12:11 EST 2004

The label "DSS" can be used in a wider sense to refer to texts other than
those found at Qumran, e.g., the Bar Kokhba letters, which are more like the
"grocery list" type writings Dave is looking for.
The question of whether Qumran Hebrew was primarily a literary or spoken
language is still hotly debated, as seen in several articles in -_Diggers at
the Well_ (STDJ 36, 2000).
I wouldn't be at all confident saying that Hebrew was the mother tongue for
the people at Qumran, but I would say it was at least a living, spoken
language. Still, I wouldn't say even this view is the consensus.

Ken Penner, McMaster/DSS
Dead Sea Scrolls scholars' list owner,

> > The important question here is one you have left open. Do you accept
> > that there was a continuing community for which Hebrew was 
> the mother
> > tongue? That is what the DSS evidence strongly suggests, at 
> least for
> > the period before the destruction of the Temple. And if 
> this did exist,
> > it is what makes the significant difference from Latin in the modern
> > period.
> I'm not sure why you keep saying this.  The DSS are religious 
> documents, and 
> according to the prevailing theory they were written by a splinter 
> *religious* group that separated from the Temple cult.  The 
> vast majority of 
> the documents are biblical texts, which of course would be in 
> Hebrew, and the 
> "community" documents set forth religious practices for the 
> group.  So the 
> DSS actually seem to argue more in favor of Karl's 
> suggestion.  There are no 
> grocery lists, letters from Aunt Bertha, or any such 
> "secular" documents 
> among them, which is what would be needed to make them show 
> that Hebrew was a 
> "mother tongue" to this group.  They used Hebrew in their 
> religious documents 
> and practices, but they also had Targums of the biblical 
> texts including Job 
> and Leviticus.  So I really don't think the DSS show what you 
> maintain they 
> do.

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