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

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Sat Oct 9 13:30:25 EDT 2004

On Saturday 09 October 2004 08:14, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
> 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.

We're not sure if this date refers to the copies we have preserved or to the 
composition of the actual document.

> >  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.

Um, you have a problem here, HH, because there are no letters in the DSS.  All 
of the non-biblical material is religious in nature, which to me only 
strengthens Karl's statement about Hebrew in that time period.  I still 
haven't figured out how scholars such as Tov and the three cited above use 
material that is exclusively religious (DSS, ossuaries, etc.) to claim that 
Hebrew was not an exclusively religious language!  Its structure, vocabulary, 
etc. was somewhat fluid, yes, I'll give them that.  But we have no evidence 
whatsoever to show that Hebrew was used "on the street" as it were, or that 
there really was such a thing as "ordinary spoken Hebrew" in the 
intertestamental period.

Dave Washburn
"No good.  Hit on head."   -Gronk

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