[b-hebrew] GDD (was not: Self-mutilation)

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Sat Oct 9 10:14:32 EDT 2004

Dear Karl,

>We don't know when the Damascus Document was authored, but from the 
>sounds of it, it was centuries after the last of the Hebrew canon.

HH: The date attributed to it is about the first century B.C.

>  In other words, at a time when the people on the street spoke 
>Aramaic and only the scholars spoke Hebrew more or less fluently 
>(much like the medieval monks spoke Latin). Thus it is very likely 
>that GDD in the Damascus Document is either an Aramaic loan word or 
>a late development of GDWD into a verb.

HH> These ideas that GDD in the Damascus Document is an Aramaic 
loanword or a back development from a noun are arbitrary assumptions. 
The Damascus Document is a Hebrew document, and GDD is a biblical 
word.  We don't know that the authors didn't know Hebrew. Quite a lot 
of the Dead Sea Scrolls, even the non-biblical material such as 
letters, are in Hebrew. Here is a quote about the Dead Sea Scroll 
period from _Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation_, by Michael Wise, 
Martin Abegg, and Edward Cook:

Hebrew was manifestly the principal literary language for the Jews of 
this period. The new discoveries underlined the still living, 
breathing, even supple character of that language. A few texts 
pointed to the use of Hebrew for speech as well as writing. . . . 
Rabbinic Hebrew was shown to be no invention, but simply a 
development from the ordinary spoken Hebrew of biblical times.

>As for the "up-to-date lexicon", have you not noticed my discussions 
>concerning BDB? All of those that I know of since Gesenius have been 
>written with presuppositions that I reject: presuppositions such as 
>evolution, the late development of the Hebrew canon, the 
>backwardness of the ancient Hebrew people,

HH: I reject all these things, too, but they are somewhat irrelevant 
to the issue of GDD.

>  and that word usages in cognate languages and in post Biblical 
>Hebrew accurately reflects Biblical Hebrew use. (The last point can 
>often give us clues to rarely used Biblical Hebrew terms, if used 
>with caution.) I find that comparing lexemes with their roots and 
>synonyms within Tanakh more useful for finding accurate definitions 
>than looking at cognate languages.

HH: I don't think lexicons assume that one can transfer wholesale 
into Hebrew the word usage of cognate languages. I have not really 
seen that sort of thinking.

				Harold Holmyard

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list