[b-hebrew] Complexity and Dating of Hebrew Texts

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Thu Apr 23 20:27:38 EDT 2009

Karl wrote:

There is evidence even among Biblical books. Those that were written before
the Babylonian Exile show a greater linguistic complexity than those written
afterwards, e.g. the final three prophets, Haggai, Zakaria and Malachi used
the language in a simpler manner, as befits those who do not have native
fluency of the language, than their pre-Exile predecessors.


Karl, I'm not sure how you're defining 'complexity' here, but I'd beg to differ on that one. The Book of the Twelve must be a post-exilic book, and there doesn't seem to be any great disparity between the Hebrew of, say, Hosea and Zechariah. I would argue that Ezekiel preserves an at times strange brand of Hebrew. Furthermore, you have the problem of identifying the date of particular books, which is very difficult to do. One could legitimately make the case that some (or a lot) of the material in the Pentateuch is post-exilic.

Dating biblical books on language is fraught with difficulties. I refer you to the recent two volumes, Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts, by Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd.


Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)

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