[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

JoeWallack at aol.com JoeWallack at aol.com
Sun Jul 8 19:35:30 EDT 2007

In a message dated 6/26/2007 1:58:06 PM Central Daylight Time,  
hholmyard3 at earthlink.net writes:

>  JW:
> Whoa Nelliphim! The general example above of Hebrew having a  different  
> emphasis is an INTER language issue. Theoretically  all Hebrew Bible  
speakers would 
> be on the same page, so to  speak. Your example in the preceding  paragraph 
> an INTRA  language issue. The subject is definite to the Hebrew  Bible 
> and indefinite to the Hebrew Bible hearer. The default position  is  that 
> is definite to the Hebrew Bible speaker would be  definite to the  Hebrew 
> Bible hearer. What specific examples of  this do you claim (other than  
7:14 of 
>  course)?

HH: It can serve most of the examples  we've discussed, theoretically all 
of them, since it is a category of  usage for which these examples are 
cited. And the thought could be the  same in the reader's mind as in the 
writer's. It does not have to be, as  you suggest, definite for one and 
indefinite for the other. It is equally  definite and generic for both. 
The one who escapes, if we provisionally  accept that idea for Gen 14:13, 
would be, in both writer and hearer, a  genus: "the one who escaped," 
used specifically of an otherwise  unidentified person who came to 
Abraham with news of  Sodom.

This is non-responsive to my question above. If you are willing to try  
harder I suggest you try to answer my one important question above:
What examples would you give in the Hebrew Bible of the Author being  
Definite and the immediate Hebrew hearer taking it as Indefinite?

>> HH:
>> If one is honest with the context in Isaiah  7, there is no  real reason 
>> to assume that there was any  particular woman that the term  in question 
>> pointed to. There  is no other woman mentioned in the context  except 
>> Isaiah's  wife, who was not a virgin and seems to have had grown  sons (so 
>> was not a young woman either). Good writers don't use totally   obscure 
>> references, and I believe God inspired the biblical   writers.
> JW:
> As  far as using the observation that there is no other woman mentioned in  
> the context, if your meaning above is that this by itself forces a  
conclusion of 
>  indefinite, that is proof-texting. If I, in return,  pointed out one  
> consideration as proof of definite I have Faith  that you would likewise be 
> unimpressed.

HH: Here's the rub. I have only a limited amount of time to devote to  
this subject. There is a great deal of support for this category of  
usage by grammarians and translators. So I have no predisposition to  
reject it. Numerous examples are given of the usage. Focusing on the  
particular case in view, Isa 7:14, there seem to be good reasons to  
support it. Having looked at arguments presented to overthrow about a  
dozen of the supposed cases of the usage, I found the counter-arguments  
weak or unconvincing. So I, for the time being, have no motivation to go  
into this further.
If I understand the category correctly it is something definite to the  
author that is indefinite to the immediate Hebrew hearer. I don't think there is  
any such category of Hebrew as the previous sentence has a natural  
contradiction. If someone did accept such a category than they would have a huge  amount 
of Uncertainty regarding whether any Author meant the Definite or  Indefinite. 
An uncertainty I have Faith you do not possess. 
Assuming my understanding of your category is correct how do you  
specifically apply it to 7:14?
I think we can do without the "If one is honest". Yes?

HH: From my perspective, it is wise to go along with grammars and  other 
scholars unless there is strong reason to reject what their wisdom  over 
the centuries has accumulated. Since I have nothing that weighs heavily  
against their view so far, I look at the few who have reservations as  
people who bear the burden of proving the accepted category to be wrong.  
I have seen nothing that does this so far. David suggests that if I read  
the whole article that he provided, I might change my mind. If I have  
time, I will read further in it.
Well you might want to do a current survey of translations. I believe that  
now the majority of Christian translations have "the". 
Joseph Wallack

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