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

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Mon Oct 11 16:19:27 EDT 2004

I am not interested in lists of scholar names, I thought I already mentioned 
that.  The question, once again, is WHY were certain of the BK letters in 
Hebrew, WHY were some in Aramaic and some in Greek, etc.?  I have already 
answered all of this and shown the religious nature of his occasional use of 
Hebrew, and all you are doing is throwing more "experts" at me.  I really 
don't care what this or that expert says, I'm interested in the primary 
sources, the raw data.  At this point, I see a movement within Hebrew 
scholarship, one that actually seems to have peaked about 20 years ago and 
then declined, that sought to show that Hebrew was a street language 
alongside Aramaic and Greek, and proceeded to grab onto any and every source 
that had an occasional Hebrew paragraph or clause in it, and say "See?  That 
proves it."  But all of the evidence so used is religious in nature: DSS, 
ossuaries, coins, certain letters from the failed rebellion of the second 
century; this rebellion, as one of your own experts already said, sought a 
return to the good ol' days when people spoke Hebrew and tried to force it 
onto the populace.  It didn't work.  The rebellion itself didn't work, the 
linguistic push didn't work.  The whole idea that Hebrew was a 
commonly-spoken language and not the "Latin" of the time (thank you, Karl, 
that's a great analogy!) doesn't work.  It requires too much manipulation of 
certain evidence and exclusion of other evidence.  You can rattle off names 
and scholar citations all you want, but it's really not going to get you 
anywhere.  If you want to press this issue, I suggest you pull out a couple 
of those letters and cite them and let's talk about the evidence, not some 
general statement by this or that "expert."

On Sunday 10 October 2004 17:41, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
> Dear Dave,
> I'm sorry that i sent that last post to you
> instead of b-hebrew. Thanks for relaying it to
> b-hebrew in your reply.
> >  > >  > HH: My first guess would be that there were three languages in
> >  > >  > use. A
> >>  >>
> >>  >>  good number of scholars say that.
> >>  >
> >>  >Definitely they were.  The question is, which was used for what
> >>  > purposes? That's where we differ.
> >>
> >>  HH: Here's an interesting quote from apparent experts in the Hebrew
> >>  language and linguistics, Bernard Spolsky and Elana Shohamy:
> >>  http://www.biu.ac.il/hu/lprc/Hebrew_after_a_century_of_RLS_efforts.htm
> >>
> >>    The process of shifting from the use of Hebrew as a spoken
> >>  vernacular may have started as early as the sixth century BCE, and
> >>  certainly was well along for many living in ancient Israel by the
> >>  beginning of the common era (Chomsky 1957; Rabin 1973).  How long
> >>  Hebrew continued to be spoken among Jews is a matter of some debate
> >>  but it is now generally believed that there were still monolingual
> >>  speakers of Hebrew in villages of Judaea at the time of the Bar
> >>  Kochba Revolt,  in the second century of the Common Era, and native
> >>  speakers even later.
> >
> >It's a tantalizing quote, to be sure, but upon reading the article I don't
> > see any evidence given, and statements like "it is now generally
> > believed" really don't do anything for me.  What does "generally" mean? 
> > "Believed" by whom? They don't say, and give no backing for such a
> > statement.  Simply citing "apparent experts" isn't going to get us very
> > far.
> HH: Here's a quote from David Steinberg with
> names. I give some introductory material to show
> your side of things, too. The second to last
> paragraph makes my point:
> http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrew.htm#biblicalheb
> With the destruction of the First Temple (587
> BCE) the scribal schools and royal patronage of
> writers ended, Jerusalem was depopulated, the
> country was ruined and much of the population was
> exiled to Babylonia where the common language was
> Aramaic.  Later, a small number of Babylonian
> Jews, probably mainly Aramaic speaking, returned
> to Judah where they provided the leadership,
> under Persian imperial patronage, for a slow
> restoration of Jerusalem and a much reduced Judah
> known as the province of Yahud.
> When written sources again give us a look in, the
> linguistic situation of the country was:
> ·                       Greek was widely spoken
> in (see map of Hellenistic and Herodian Cities):
> o       Coastal plain;
> o       Decapolis (Jordan Valley north of the
> main Jewish area in Trans-Jordan);
> o       Greek cities within Jewish areas in Galilee;
> o       Greek cities within Samaritan populated
> areas of central and northern Samaria;
> o       Greek cities within Idumean areas in the
> northern Negev i.e. what was formerly the
> southern section of the territory of the tribe of
> Judah.
> ·                       Aramaic was the majority
> language of the country.  Probably it was the
> only language, other than Greek, spoken
> throughout the country except for some areas of
> Judea between Lod and Jericho.  It seems to have
> been the language of the upper classes in
> Jerusalem; and,
> ·                       A proto-Mishnaic form of
> Hebrew was probably spoken, along with Aramaic in
> some areas of Judea between Lod and Jericho;, and
> ·                       Late Biblical Hebrew
> which was a literary language, along side Greek
> and Aramaic for the Jewish population.  There
> were no speakers of this artificial tongue.  This
> is not dissimilar to the situation of Modern
> Literary Arabic today or Church Latin in the
> middle ages.
> Spoken Hebrew underwent great changes of three kinds:
> ·                       Natural developments
> internal to the language (see Segal, Kutscher,
> Bendavid);
> ·                       A mixing of dialects due
> to the political upheavals, exile etc.; and
> ·                       The profound influence of
> Aramaic in vocabulary, semantics and grammar
> including inflection.
> Christian scholars have, at times, claimed that
> Hebrew was completely replaced by Aramaic during
> this period.  However, Segal,  Greenfield and
> Levine have demonstrated that this was not the
> case.  Modern linguistic study, research on
> contemporary sources, the Bar Kochba letters in a
> popular spoken Hebrew all show that Hebrew was a
> spoken language of southern Palestine until at
> least 135 CE when, in the wake of the Bar Kochba
> rebellion,  the Romans evicted or killed the
> Jewish population in the areas in which Hebrew
> was still spoken.  At that point, Aramaic and
> Greek became virtually the only spoken languages
> of the whole of what is now Iraq, Syria, Lebanon,
> Jordan and Israel.  An early form of Arabic was
> already spoken on the desert fringes of this area.
> T he Roman suppression of the first Jewish revolt
> against Rome (67-70 CE), including the
> destruction of Jerusalem led to a
> social-cultural-religious collapse.  This
> included the disappearance of the priestly
> aristocracy and Jewish groups such as the
> Sadducees and Essenes.  The earliest Rabbinic
> literature dates from the period 70-200 CE and it
> is written in the spoken Hebrew of the time,
> called, after the most famous literary product of
> the time, Mishnaic Hebrew.
> HH: Here are the sources he gives:
> Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew by M. H. Segal, Oxford 1958, Paperback 1980
> The Languages of Palestine, 200 B.C.E.-200 C.E.
> by Jonas C. Greenfield in Al Kanfei Yonah:
> Collected Studies of Jonas C. Greenfield on
> Semitic Philology, ed. Shalom M.
> Languages of Jerusalem in Levine, Lee I. Judaism
> and Hellenism in antiquity : conflict or
> confluence?, Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. Paul,
> Michael E. Stone, and Avital Pinnick. Jerusalem:
> Magnes Press, 2001.
> 				Yours,
> 				Harold Holmyard
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Dave Washburn
"No good.  Hit on head."   -Gronk

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