[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect? Psalm 107

Richard Burks rburks9400 at comcast.net
Sun May 23 14:10:09 EDT 2004

On 5/23/04 12:51 PM, "furuli at online.no" <furuli at online.no> wrote:
By the way Liz ... Rolf is another one who I read his memos with interest.

Bill Burks
> Dear Liz,
> When you ask me, I would guess the bird was a swan, because that
> would be more likely statistically speaking. But as a scientist I
> would not venture a guess. Because I am aware of the existence of
> white crows, according to your words, the birds could have been a
> crows as well.
> Please note that my illustration was related to the all-proposition
> "all swans are white," and the falsification principle works in cases
> that are similar to all-propositions. To parts of the Hebrew verbal
> system the falsification principle can be applied. Please consider
> the following:
> On p. 95 in the work "The Evolution of Grammar, Tense, Aspect, and
> Modality in the Languages of the World (1994), J. Bybee, R. Perkins,
> and W. Pagliuca states that simple past cannot express future events.
> This is almost a truism, and few, if any would disagree with that. On
> the basis of this we can make the following all-proposition: A Hebrew
> conjugation with the semantic meaning "past tense" will not have
> verbs with future reference. This means that if a reasonable number
> of verbs from this conjugation have future reference, the claim of
> the conjugation being past tense is falsified.
> Waltke/O'Connor (1990:460) applies this principle to the Hebrew
> conjugations: "How can forms each of which "represent" all three
> English major tenses have a primary temporal value?"
> And even more interesting, W. L. Moran did this to the Canaanite
> verbal system as witnessed by the Amarna letters in 1950 (Moran, W.
> L., "A Syntactical Study of the Dialect of Byblos as Reflected in the
> Amarna Tablets" (Ph. D. diss., The Johns Hopkins University, 1950) =
> Amarna Studies: Collected Writings (ed. J. Huehnergard and S.
> Izre'el; HSS 54; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003) 1-130.
> Note how A. Rainey  (1996 II:6) in his four volume work on Northwest
> Semitic (Amarna) grammar endorses Moran's view (Rainey, A. F. (1996).
> Canaanite in the Amarna tablets : a linguistic analysis of the mixed
> dialect used by the scribes from Canaan, 4 vols. Handbuch der
> Orientalistik. 1. Abteilung, Der Nahe und Mittlere Osten, ed. B.
> Spuler.):
> "Both transitive and stative forms could serve to express past,
> present or future meaning. The suffix conjugation did not, therefore,
> express completed action or state as taught by S. R. Driver
> (1892:13-26; Moran 1950a:34)."
> We should note that Moran's QATALs, on which he drew his conclusions,
> were few:  122 with present reference, 33 with future reference and
> 100 with past reference. On this basis he viewed Driver's claim as
> falsified!
> In many cases the distinction between semantic meaning and
> conversational  pragmatic implicature is difficult to establish. But
> Peter draws this too far, because there are many areas of language
> where the difference is clear-cut, as in connection with verbs. Of
> course, falsifying examples must have a secure foundation (textually,
> contextually etc), and even exceptions can be allowed if they can be
> linguistically explained. But the main proposition stands: A verb
> conjugation which semantically represents past tense cannot have
> future reference.
> The fact that the infinitive absolute is used for narrative accounts
> in Phoenician, and to some degree in the Amarna letters, has no
> direct bearing on the falsification principle. But this fact
> illuminates the case with the WAYYIQTOLs from another angle.  If
> infinitive absolutes, which nobody would say semantically represent
> past tense, are used as the narrative verb form, then the WAYYIQTOLs
> neither need to represent semantically past tense, just because they
> in great numbers are used in narrative accounts. Why some say they
> cannot understand this simple fact is difficult for me to understand.
> Best regards
> Rolf
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
>> The reference to white swans and induction is extremely interesting.
>> Let us say that you saw 1000 white swans and 2 black ones.
>> Further let's say that you saw 1000 black crows and (for argument's sake)
>> two white ones.
>> Now suppose I told you that there is a white bird out there.
>> Would you assume it to be a swan or a crow?
>> Liz
>>>  -----Original Message-----
>>>  From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
>>>  [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Peter Kirk
>>>  Sent: Saturday, May 22, 2004 2:23 PM
>>>  To: furuli at online.no
>>>  Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>>>  Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect? Psalm 107
>>>  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. ...
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