[b-hebrew] phonetic writing, was Initial "Beged Kefet" consonants always have a...

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Oct 25 13:39:36 EDT 2005

On 25/10/2005 18:14, Karl Randolph wrote:

>But that's just the point. While the number of names that 
>Joel Hoffman presented is small, that the same names 
>have radically different pronunciations calls all the 
>pronunciation schema into question. ...

I don't see why the variations in Greek transliterations, generally made 
by people whose grasp of Hebrew was inadequate, calls into question the 
Tiberian pronunciation of Hebrew.

>... Further, none of the 
>pronunciation points nor transliterations were extant when 
>there were still native speakers of Biblical Hebrew to 
>interview. The earliest was generations later. Who knows 
>what changed before.

This is not true. There were certainly still mother tongue speakers of 
Hebrew when LXX was translated. But they probably were not in Alexandria 
where it was translated. Josephus is a different matter, as he surely 
knew mother tongue speakers of Hebrew in Jerusalem before it fell.

>And I will add to that that even within the tradition of the 
>Masoretic points, it is demonstrable that some of them are 
>wrong. Remember, I gave an example concerning 
>Proverbs 1:19 a while back.

Well, no human work is perfect. The Masoretic text has a few clear 
errors, although remarkably few considering its size and complexity, and 
the absence of computer checks!

>The probability that after 1000 years of war, upheaval, no 
>native speakers, exiles, foreign accents and so forth, that 
>the MT should accurately preserve Biblical pronunciation 
>is a vanishingly small probability. Hence I can confidently 
>claim that the Masoretic points do not reflect Biblical 

I agree that it is highly improbable that the Masoretic text is 100% 
accurate in reflecting "biblical" pronunciations, whatever you might 
mean by that. But that is absolutely no help to us in determining what 
changes might have taken place.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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