[b-hebrew] Fw: Aramaic to them?

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Fri Mar 5 16:10:48 EST 2004

On Thursday 04 March 2004 04:12, Peter Kirk wrote:
> On 03/03/2004 16:36, Dave Washburn wrote:
> >On Wednesday 03 March 2004 15:51, Peter Kirk wrote:
> >>On 03/03/2004 14:37, Dave Washburn wrote:
> >>>...
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>I've read most of them, but I suspect that most of the conclusions are
> >>>flawed because they are treating documents that are inherently
> >>> religious, as though they were more or less common speech.  There is no
> >>> reason not to expect exclusively (or primarily) religious language to
> >>> undergo change of the type that is purportedly observed; I also suspect
> >>> that at least some of the changes spotted have been somewhat
> >>> exaggerated.  But that's a matter for a different list.
> >>
> >>I haven't read most of the articles. But your hypothesis can be tested,
> >>as there are many languages in the world which have survived for many
> >>centuries as exclusively or primarily religious language, with no mother
> >>tongue communities - or in forms which have gradually diverged from
> >>those used by mother tongue communities, as with Greek. (Hebrew was
> >>probably in that category for more than 1500 years.) Can you point to
> >>cases where such languages have undergone the same types of change that
> >>Hebrew was undergoing during the DSS period? If not, there is good
> >>reason to conclude that these changes occur only in languages with
> >>mother tongue communities.
> >
> >I haven't done any study in the diachronics of other languages; the only
> > one I know of that fits your description offhand is Latin.  What others
> > did you have in mind?
> Latin, Koine Greek (continuing liturgical use separate from modern
> Greek), Old Church Slavonic, Hebrew (in the mediaeval and early modern
> periods), Jewish Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, arguably classical
> Arabic, classical Mandaic, Avestan, Sanskrit, Pali, pehaps old Tibetan,
> arguably even KJV-style English. Maybe not all of these fit 100% (e.g.
> Sanskrit does have a small mother tongue community) but many are close.

Most of these are merely words to me; I haven't really done any post-biblical 
diachronic investigation of the languages that I do know, which in this list 
include Latin, Greek and Hebrew (not counting KJV English).  Since we're 
focusing on Hebrew, and since I don't have the resources at hand right now, 
how about tossing out a couple of the suggested changes in Hebrew of the DSS 
period vis-a-vis say, late biblical and early Mishnaic and we can concentrate 
on those for a bit?

> >>What other list should this be discussed on? Despite the subject line,
> >>we are talking about Hebrew, although not strictly biblical.
> >
> >The discussion seems to be moving more into a DSS-specific direction, so
> > it might be more appropriate for a list like Megillot.  But I'm game if
> > you and the moderators are...
> This is not DSS-specific. The DSS are evidence for the change in
> progress, as is the Mishnah for the end point and late biblical Hebrew
> for the start point. But the goal of the study is not the DSS but the
> study of the Hebrew language in itself, and of all writings from the
> period and region including e.g. the New Testament as well as the DSS.

That works for me.

Dave Washburn
Learning about Christianity from a non-Christian
is like getting a kiss over the telephone.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list