[b-hebrew] Hebrew "If-and" construction and the Book of

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 16 19:04:38 EDT 2006

Cross-linguistically, some language coordinators/conjunctions commonly 
group meanings which other languages choose to divide (see the reference 
below). It is not uncommon for a single coordinator to group the 
meanings "and", "sequential" (then), "resultative" (so that), etc. The 
Morman translation, then, has failed to recognise that what Hebrew does 
with the one coordinator/conjunction (waw) English regularly does with 
two ("and", "then").

Malchukov, Andrej. 2004. “Towards a Semantic Typology of Adversative and 
Contrast Marking.” Journal of Semantics 21: 177-198.

David Kummerow.
> I am looking to get some confirmation about an apologetic that is 
> growing in popularity among Latter-day Saints. For those who are not 
> familiar with the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith claims to have 
> translated the text from gold plates that were written upon an Ancient 
> Hebrew writer.
> The original manuscripts of the Book of Mormon include weird phrases 
> that involve an if-and construction instead of an if-then 
> construction. According to Mormon scholar Royal Skousen:
> "In a recent paper I describe two important examples of Hebraisms in 
> the original text of the Book of Mormon that do not occur in the King 
> James Bible. One example is the use of the if-and clausal construction 
> instead of the expected if-(then) syntax of English, as in the 
> following extended passage from Helaman 12 where it occurs seven times 
> (thus showing that we are not dealing with an isolated transcriptional 
> error):
> if he sayeth unto the earth move and it is moved
> if he sayeth unto the earth thou shalt go back that it lengthen out 
> the day for many hours and it is done .
> if he sayeth unto the waters of the great deep be thou dried up and it 
> is done.
> This construction is a literalistic translation of the Hebrew-language 
> construction, but does not occur at all in the King James Bible."
> For our Hebrew experts out there, is it true that the "if-and" 
> construction is a common occurence in the Hebrew Bible, and is it also 
> true that this lingustic phenomenon is unique only to Hebrew?

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