[b-hebrew] The mystery of vav-consequtive

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Thu Apr 28 16:20:41 EDT 2005

Dear Peter,

I do not think we should forget Biblia Hebraica, because the issue raised by
Sperber is important: Do we get our understanding of Hebrew grammar from the
Hebrew text, or are we forcing our own wiew of Hebrew grammar on the Hebrew
text (a view we got from our teachers, who got it from their teachers, who
got it from their teachers...)?

Sperber (1966:52) refers to Kittel`s monograph of 1902 and its suggestion
"to purge the Bible text of `obvious mistakes and errors of any kind`", and
comments: "In the light of Kittel`s remarks quoted at the beginning of p.
46, there can be no doubt at all as to the meaning implied by the words
`obvious mistakes and errors.`  They refer to any deviation from the rules
and laws of Hebrew grammar.  and it is just this attitude towards the Hebrew
Bible, to give the right of priority to The Grammar and to make the
Scriptures conform with it, which I refuted by saying: "Whether he admits it
or not, the exegete assumes that the laws of the Hebrew language, as laid
down in the Hebrew grammar, are binding for the Bible. Whenever a
discrapancy is discovered between the Bible and these
`established`grammatical  laws, the Bible is the looser: the text is
`emended` so as to conform with the grammar...It is high time that Bible
scholars...approach the Bible not as schoolmasters teaching the prophets how
Hebrew sentences should be formed and Hebrew words be spelled, but as humble
students of these masters of Hebrew."

Sperber could write the words above because he was a student of the Biblical
text, the whole Biblical text! But I am aware of no scholar who has done the
same in the last fifty years of the 20th century. Only parts of the text
have been thoroughly studied by each scholar, and the opinions of leading
scholars have counted more than the witness of the biblical text itself.
Today scholars do not emend the text, but still The Grammar has the
priority. All kinds of strange explanations are given to passages
contradicting The Grammar, and no single study exists where *all* the verbs
that contradict the established grammar of four conjugations are discussed
and accounted for. So let us never forget Biblica Hebraica!  It is a witness
in favor of the need of a scientific revolution (in the Kuhnian sense of the
concept) in connection with The Grammar.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
Univesity of Oslo

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
To: "David Roth" <daroth at JTSA.EDU>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>; "Kirk Lowery" <klowery at wts.edu>
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 5:42 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] The mystery of vav-consequtive

> On 28/04/2005 14:36, David Roth wrote:
>> ...
>>Sperber is referring to Biblia Hebraica (either 1 or 2), but certainly not
>>BHS.   Notice that Rolf Furuli cites "Biblia Hebraica" (as opposed to the
>>BHS apparatus, on which he comments later) ...
> Thanks for the clarification. I was misunderstanding Rolf as abbreviating
> the full name of BHS to "Biblia Hebraica". But I don't see what is the
> relevance to this discussion of this obsolete Biblia Hebraica. Let's
> simply forget it.

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