[b-hebrew] Hebrew - dialect of canaanite

dwashbur at nyx.net dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Jun 28 20:15:56 EDT 2006

On 28 Jun 2006 at 23:47, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

> On 6/28/06, Karl Randolph wrote:

> > But the historicity of the text is a legitimate
> > linguistic question. While for purposes of this
> > discussion we don't have to agree on historicity,
> > it has a bearing on how we interpret historical
> > data and how Hebrew compares to cognate languages.
> No, it does not.  Hebrew can be compared and
> contrasted to cognate languages irrespective of
> whether one accepts Biblical historical claims or
> one's position on Biblical historicity.   This is
> because the comparison of cognate languages is
> a process that takes into account purely linguistic
> features, and has no place for any historical
> claim of any kind.  Using Biblical historical
> claims as if they have a bearing on such a
> comparison is simply wrong.

Actually, it does have a bearing.  The most common claim made by those who reject the 
historicity of certain people, places and events is that the texts are "late."  Using that basis, 
comparison to cognate languages such as Ugaritic and Akkadian, and sometimes even 
Aramaic and Moabite, becomes an implicit or explicit comparison of "early" languages 
versus the "late" Hebrew, and virtually all differences between Hebrew and its cognates are 
explained this way.  But if the people, places and events are historical, then either the "late" 
authors drew on earlier accounts and incorporated them, including various facets of the 
earlier language of those accounts, or the texts themselves are early and reflect a Hebrew 
that is much older than previously thought.  The assumed date of the text and language is 
going to have a bearing on how linguists like us interpret the comparative data, there's no 
way around it.  So on this point, Karl is correct.

Dave Washburn
Encephaloriasis: That condition generated when the person you are dealing with is so 
incredibly stupid, you can actually feel your own brain cells drying up and flaking off.

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