[b-hebrew] Proto-Semitic, was WAYYIQTOL

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sun Mar 14 12:44:15 EST 2004

On 14/03/2004 05:58, Brian Roberts wrote:

> On Sunday, March 14, 2004, at 12:52  AM, Polycarp66 at aol.com wrote:
>> Why should you assume that Hebrew was the original language? (I 
>> believe this
>> is what you are implying here.  Correct me if I misunderstand.  
>> Indeed, I tend
>> to think of Babel as a myth to explain the existence of a multitude of
>> languages despite a previously stated origin of the human species 
>> from a single
>> ancestor.  This forum is really not the proper place to discuss this 
>> matter, but
>> since you raised the issue I feel obliged to clarify the point.  You 
>> may, and
>> perhaps should, answer offlist.
> As there is no conclusive proof of the origins of Phoenician, Hebrew, 
> or Aramaic, I believe Karl's questions are not only valid, but should 
> be supported. If proto-Semitic is becoming a sacred cow without good 
> call, then it must be challenged.
> I believe that was Karl's point. He wasn't assuming Hebrew was the 
> original language, he was suggesting it. There is a tremendous 
> difference.
Well put, Brian. Proto-Semitic is indeed a scholarly construct, and like 
all scholarly constructs it needs to be reviewed carefully by scholars. 
If Karl has done that kind of thorough review, based on a proper 
understanding of comparative Semitic linguistics and of the evidence for 
and against the generally accepted scholarly reconstruction, he is of 
course entitled to put forward an alternative theory. I trust that he is 
not assuming without good reason (even in the Bible taken very 
literally, I should point out) that the traditional theory is wrong and 
that the original language is Hebrew. If he is taking that position, 
then (since Karl mentions evolution) Huxley's (alleged) words to Bishop 
Wilberforce apply:

"If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recording, it 
would rather be a /man/... who... plunges into scientific questions with 
which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by aimless 
rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real points 
at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious 

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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