[b-hebrew] quotes with uncertain Hebrew meanings

Bill Rea bsr15 at cantsl.it.canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Aug 26 16:30:44 EDT 2007

James wrote:-

>you may take my opinion as an extreme
>view but I would call into question the meaning of
>every single word in the Hebrew corpus until you have
>justifiable linguistic reasons for accepting its
>i) contextual harmony
>ii) traditional understanding
>iii) cognate testimony
>iv) etymological reasons
>I put the list in the order above purposefully

Indeed, this is an extreme view. The reality is that we
have an unbroken tradition maintained by our Jewish freinds
which goes all the way back to the authors, however you interpret
authorship for these texts. The only way for someone to learn
Biblical Hebrew is through this tradition. Once someone has
mastered that tradition then the other things mentioned above
can be utilitized. How can you understand context until you've
learned to read Biblical Hebrew? How can you learn to read Biblical
Hebrew without the tradition? These texts are not like some which
have been dug out of the ground in an unknown script and which
must somehow be deciphered. The script, the language, and the
meaning have never been lost except for a very small number of
words. Even with those few words we have other parts of the
tradition such as the LXX, Targums, and commentaries which
should be consulted before going down other less reliable
paths such as cognates and etymologies, or something subjective
like our view of what constitutes contextual harmony.

Bill Rea, ICT Services, University of Canterbury \_
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