[b-hebrew] the Jim vs Karl debate

dwashbur at nyx.net dwashbur at nyx.net
Thu Dec 11 21:10:23 EST 2008

On 11 Dec 2008 at 12:12, David Kolinsky wrote:

> Chaverim, I wonder if we could get some additional opinions on this
> debate.    I agree with Karl that Jim's postings are annoyingly
> pedantic and that if he has a comprehensive thesis on Hebrew etymology
> and how it applies to the patriarchal narrative then he should
> seriously consider writing a book or starting a web site.   However, I
> think Karl is behaving as much as a bully as Jim is being pedantic. 

I have to disagree.  Karl is presenting his view and addressing the flagrant errors in Jim's 
material.  He has been a lot more civil than I would have been; that was a big reason why I 
very quickly stopped reading Jim's stuff.  Well, that and the fact that life is too short to waste 
inordinate amounts of time reading all that verbosity.

> Furthermore, it is not only in the context of Jim's rantings that he
> has done so.  Rather, he seems to consistently do so when anyone
> presents and/or disagrees with him regarding Hebrew Etymology.  There
> is no doubt that there is no consensus on the relationship between
> Hebrew verbal roots and other words with seemingly similar "root"
> letters.  This holds true as well when it comes to making the same
> comparisons between semitic languages (cognates).  But the fact that
> there is no consensus does not mean that people who profess these
> ideas are idiots (as Karl seems to regularly suggest).  Nor does it
> make it a subject not worth exploring.  Those of us who have our
> theories of Hebrew etymolgy could create another B-Hebrew list, but
> that would deprive us of the opinions of people who disagree with us
> (Karl's included).  My complaint is that Karl seems much less
> interested in scholarly debate and exploration and much more
> interested in shutting the rest of us down.  Which, by the way, he
> seems to have done rather successfully.    Is that the intent of this
> list?   Sincerely, david kolinsky  

Karl and I have had our clashes in the past, but I really don't see it this way.  In addressing 
my somewhat unique views, he has never made me feel he was calling me an idiot or 
anything else.  Disagreement can be healthy for all concerned, and I am definitely not one 
who could be called "non-confrontational."  But I have probably come closer to insulting him 
than he has to insulting me, because he works hard to do a couple of things: 1) stick to the 
issues, and 2) operate from a consistent view of the text and the language.  This second is a 
big part of his beef with Jim, because Jim's worldview seems to be about as stable as 
nitroglycerin.  He believes this except when he doesn't, sees this timeline except when he 
doesn't, and so on.  While I can and do sometimes disagree with Karl's conclusions, he is at 
least consistent in things like his view of the age, composition and historicity of the text.  He is 
also not shy about sharing his own background, telling anyone who wants to know what his 
credentials are and such.  By contrast, he has asked Jim several times what his background 
in Hebrew and biblical studies is, what his credentials are, and Jim flatly refuses even to 
acknowledge that the question was asked.  I have to echo Karl's query here: what is Jim 

I'd  like to see you define some of the terms you're throwing around.  Specifically, what 
constitutes being a "bully"?  And what to you is "scholarly debate?"  The only way that Karl 
has ever "shut me down" is when I didn't have an answer to his arguments.  That makes me 
go back to the material and see where either I'm wrong, or I need to find out something else 
to show what's wrong with his comments.  As far as I know, that's what "scholarly debate" is.

That's my view.

Dave Washburn

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