[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect? Psalm 107

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Sat May 22 15:57:08 EDT 2004

Dear Peter,

In order to have an intelligent exchange, please answer the question 
I posed to Vadim: If you use a modern linguistic approach, how can 
you know whether the WAYYIQTOL  of )MR  in Gen 1:3 has past reference 
because past tense is a *semantic* part of the form or whether the 
past reference is *pragmatic*?
(It is quite interesting that M. P. Streck (1995) Zahl und Zeit 
Grammatik der Numeralia und des Verbalsystems im Spätbabylonischen, 
pp. 107-108 refers to several examples of past reference of the verb 
QABU ("to say") in the IPARRAS  conjugation, which is believed to be 
a counterpart to Hebrew YIQTOL. I have also found several similar 
examples with that verb in my own reading of Akkadian documents.

Also, please address my Phoenician examples (and similar examples 
from the Amarna letters) of infinitive absolutes functioning as 
finite verbs with past reference. Do they represent past tense 
("grammaticalized location in time"), or is their past reference just 

When this is done, we may have an intelligent discussion of the 
hypothetical deductive method, where one million confirmatory 
examples do not prove a hypothesis, but where one certain 
counter-example falsifies it.

Best regards


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>On 20/05/2004 14:01, furuli at online.no wrote:
>>To ignore the examples that contradict one's view with the argument 
>>that they are errors, does not recommend itself as a good 
>>scientific method. Errors will occur, but they must be shown to be 
>>errors on the basis of a scientific analysis. If you have studied 
>>the Philosophy of science, you should be familiar with the problem 
>>of induction; one million white swans do not prove that all swans 
>>are white, but two black swans, who are not dyed or have gone 
>>through a fire, will falsify the hypothesis. Thus, the 1.000 
>>non-past WAYYIQTOLs are a stronger basis for saying that WAYYIQTOL 
>>is not semantically speaking past tense than the 12.000 WAYYIQTOLs 
>>occurring in past narratives. ...
>Your argument from swans is an interesting one. Suppose we do find a 
>million white swans and two black ones. What do we conclude? Of 
>course not that all swans are white. But we suspect that there is 
>some reason for the exceptions. Maybe the black ones are a different 
>species, or mutations. Or maybe they have been in some special 
>environment which has changed their colour. Good scholars will look 
>for a reason. But they will not argue that "not all swans are white, 
>therefore the colour of swans is irrelevant". However, that seems to 
>be how you argue when you reject the significance of the observation 
>that the great majority of WAYYIQTOLs are sequential, and most of 
>these are in past context although some are future because they 
>follow future verb forms.
>Peter Kirk
>peter at qaya.org (personal)
>peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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