[b-hebrew] translations of important quotes using Rolf's ideas

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Tue Apr 10 05:03:42 EDT 2007

Dear Peter,

My personal viewpoints regarding prophecies are linguistically irrelevant. 
However, my observations are that some persons believe that real prophecies 
can be uttered before the events come, and others believe that accurate 
predictions before the events materialize are impossible. This last view was 
the original reason for the hypothesis that the book of Isaiah has several 

In my work with the Hebrew text I use the following assumption proposed by 
P. H. Grice in "Logic and Conversation". In "Syntax and Semantics: Speech 
Acts," edited by P. Cole and J. Morgan: -Because the hearer assumes that the 
speaker is being cooperative, he assumes that the speaker will only say 
things that she believes to be relevant, informative, and true in that 
context.- This can be applied to texts as well. The are of course cryptic 
and figurative language where Grice´s assumption is not valid.

The point is that when a prophet spoke words which is his mind referred to 
the future, the reference of the verbs he used would be future. When a 
prophet who had seen some events wanted to write about these for an 
audience, and he would place his words in a prophetic setting, either to 
deceive his audience, or because he believed this was legitimate, he would 
still use verbs with future reference (there are examples of this in the 
Ethiopic Enoch). In other words, the prophet would choose his verbs as if he 
lived before the event. In this prophetic context only verbs with future 
reference would be "relevant, informative and true".

In my dissertation work I did an extensive linguistic research on verbs used 
in prophetic settings, and the interesting picture that emerged was that if 
the four-component model is followed strictly by the translators of 
prophecies, the result is often a zig-zag text as far as time is concerned, 
where past tense, present, present completed, and future tense are used, and 
the readers are completely confused as to the real time reference. Jeremiah 
50 and 51 are examples of this.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Kirk" <peter at qaya.org>
To: "Rolf Furuli" <furuli at online.no>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 7:24 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] translations of important quotes using Rolf's ideas

> On 09/04/2007 18:24, Rolf Furuli wrote:
>> ... As for Isaiah, the question is indifferent to the issue whether some 
>> of Isaiah´s words are prophecies ex eventu (spoken after the event). The 
>> answer sought is whether the writer wanted to apply the words to the 
>> future (if he wrote them after the event, he formed them as if they were 
>> written before the event). Thus, the time of writing is irrelevant for 
>> the answer.
> Rolf, you seem to accept that an author can write an ex eventu prophecy as 
> if it were future when in fact the events are past, in other words from a 
> past deictic viewpoint, thus cancelling the uncancellable future semantic 
> meaning components of future tenses. Do you not accept that an author can 
> write genuiine predictive prophecy, or forecasts or speculation about the 
> future, in the past tense from a future deictic viewpoint, thus cancelling 
> the past semantic meaning components of past tenses?
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
> Blog:    http://www.qaya.org/blog/
> Website: http://www.qaya.org/

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo 

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