[b-hebrew] re:the mystery of the vav-consecutive

Smith, Colin csmith at bbc.edu
Wed May 25 13:27:15 EDT 2005

The derivation of the wayyiqtol verb is relevant to the discussion. The most likely origin of the
form is that it was an innovation, combining vav with doubling (assimilated nun?) and an archaic
preterite verbal form, adapted for a new kind of literature, religous narrative/prose. The sacred
writing/mythology of the other ANE languages was poetic (treating Middle Egyption prose as
non-Semitic). The Hebrew Bible was the first body of Semitic literature to present sacred texts inprose form and it presented a unique circumstance in which a verbal form was created to suit the needs of the text - a narrative of the acts of a God of time/history rather than a god of nature.

If this is the case, then the wayyiqtol verbal form does not neccesarily need to "conform" to the
Hebrew verbal system a whole (whether aspectual or tense based), which, presumably, grew out
of the spoken language.

Colin Smith 

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