[b-hebrew] Deconstructionism

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Apr 11 09:44:57 EDT 2007

Hello David,

Since I posted the message to which you reply, several developments took
place.  One of these is that Bryant discussed inerrancy as he saw it, and
added an aside that he felt this was off-topic.  I read Bryant's message to
be related only to the discussion of what is inerrancy itself, but then a
second development took place - the moderators posted a message
suggesting the entire topic is marginal to the list purpose.  I completely
disagree with this claim.  I think deconstructionist analysis (or a discussion
like Harold and I were having) is perfectly suitable.  In fact, it is in my
opinion, much more suitable than a discussion of the differences between
"dine" and "have dinner" (I can understand the reason the relevance of the
dinner issue to the larger discussion at hand though).   But my feelings
are not the moderators'.  So subsequently, I felt little purpose in posting on
the list (at all!) due to this moderator  decision.  However, the other day
came the stab at Ibn Ezra to which I had to respond.

I think it would have been better for you to concede that you were using
a word in the earlier discussion that has a specific meaning in
scholarship.  Instead, you are doing it again now -- using a definition of
deconstructionism to make conclusions about all "skeptical scholars."

But that topic is closed now.  You revived it somewhat, and while the
topic is "closed," I think I deserve to issue a short rebuttal of some
offensive comments and themes in your posts.  Specifically, these are
the attempts to identify Hebrew and non-Hebrew thought.  Of course,
you are dependent on scholarship(!) for your idea there that you can tell
such a difference between Hebrew and non-Hebrew thought.  But it is
bad scholarship.  Back in November you made reference to Boman's
"Hebrew Thought Compared With Greek."  At the time (actually in
response to someone else, a couple of days before you made
reference to it), it was suggested that Barr's work, "The Semantics of
Biblical Language," published within a year of the english translation
of Boman's work, be read.  From one description, Barr "effectively
demolished any claim by Boman of scientific objectivity, knowledge of
or commitment to the science of linguistics.  Boman is unmasked by
Barr as selective, sloppy and inconsistent, arguing for an antiquated
form of linguistics that scholars in the field [this was 40 years ago!] no
longer take seriously," whereas Boman "is without embarrassment
trying to demonstrate the sublimity of the Bible, its reliability and the
superiority of Christianity over other world religions, ancient and
modern."  Maybe you disagree with this description but it is a fact
that reference to Boman's book appears to be somewhat sparse in
scholarship but very frequent in Christian sites. I was going to post a
discussion of the "Jewish view" of inerrancy in response to Bryant's
description (much the same as yours) which I see as a "Christian view",
but I did not in view of the above mentioned moderator message.

However, let me just say several things: your claim that I do not use
"Hebrew" thought is ridiculous and offensive; similarly, the implications
that I am not a "believer", (and variations such as that I do not have
"emunah", etc.) are also offensive.  Whether you are aware of it or not,
your consistent use of the Hebrew/non-Hebrew thought differences is
rooted in works of Christian supremacy and this shows in some of your
posts where you appear to simply state as a matter of fact to me how
you understand Jewish sources better than I do.  This is really what lies
behind the Hebrew and non-Hebrew rhetoric of yours and I think it has
no business on this list.  That I did not touch on these points earlier is
not because I agreed, it is just that they were much more explosive and
problematic to deal with.  Since you brought it up, though, I felt I
deserve to point these issues out.

Go ahead.  Read Barr's "The Semantics of Biblical Language."

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list