[b-hebrew] Complexity and Dating of Hebrew Texts

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Apr 24 03:13:43 EDT 2009


On Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 9:17 PM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 3:27 AM, George Athas wrote:
> > 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 "evidence" about language complexity is flawed in other respects,
> even ignoring that it depends on subjective views of textual dating.
> Consider the following study (a published, peer-reviewed one!):
> http://www.jtsa.edu/Documents/pagedocs/JANES/1998%2026/Polak26.pdf
> Frank Polak reaches widely different conclusions about which texts are more
> complex and which are not.
> Skimming through the article, and checking all the times “complex” is used,
he is using “complex” to refer to grammatical structures, I use it in this
context to refer to literary style, some of which I named.

> Finally, the basic assumption that simple language shows a misunderstanding
> of the language and hence is not by a native speaker is wrong.  That may be
> one
> reason, but simple language is often also connected with spoken language,
> while complex is connected with literary language.  Literary language is
> more
> complex because the eye can more easily analyze and break up the
> sentence, and because it allows for complex richer situations to be
> described.
> Someone whose knowledge is only of literary Hebrew will necessarily frame
> the sentences in the more complex grammar of literary language.
> Again, different definition of “complex”.

> Yitzhak Sapir

Karl W. Randolph.

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