[b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sat May 29 10:43:59 EDT 2004

On 29/05/2004 08:02, Michael Abernathy wrote:

> Only in personal names is there internal linguistic evidence in the HB that something new started with the Moses narratives (Alt). . . >
>If I correctly understand what you are saying, you are implying a remarkable degree of unity within the Hebrew language.  Let me explain my thought.  I once saw a study English dialects within 20 miles of London in the same time period.  Not only were over a dozen dialects found, but some of those dialects were barely recognizable as English.  It is my understanding that this kind of conformity is very rare and implies that either a single editor or school of editors corrected the entire text of the Hebrew Bible to a single standard, or that the earliest  Scriptures were the standard used by all later writers, or that the entirety of the Hebrew Bible was written in a very short period and in a very small geographical region.  None of these explanations seems very satisfactory to me.  I should think that the first explanation would anticipate the kind of scribal errors I suggested. The second is hard for me to swallow when I look at the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The third seems unlikely because I find it difficult to believe that the entire Hebrew race would be fooled into believing that a Bible they never heard of was the same one used by their ancestors.  Am I overlooking something?
>Michael Abernathy
One thing you are overlooking, Michael, is the distinction between 
spoken and written language. If you look at *written* texts produced 
within 20 miles of London, or indeed anywhere in England, you will find 
in the great majority of them a considerable uniformity, and a gradual 
change over time. That is because all educated writers usually used a 
rather standardised form of the language, with only occasional use of 
dialect words and forms. We see the same picture in the Hebrew Bible: 
the unformity of a standardised written language, with occasional 
dialect variation and some gradual long-term changes.

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

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