[b-hebrew] primitivization of language english

fred burlingame tensorpath at gmail.com
Wed Dec 22 09:55:09 EST 2010

Hello Yigal:

Thanks for your detailed comments.

My question, first and foremost, was directed to the factual record we have
today; the leningrad codex. Was that document created for consumption by the
general population? And since we have a 10th century date for manufacture of
that document, I suppose my question first and foremost refers to 10th
century consumers of the document. Could the general population of persons
who endorsed or followed that document in the 10th century, read it; and
understand most of it when it was read to them?

My secondary question; assuming a largely similar predecessor document(s)
existed in 500 b.c.; could the general population of persons who followed
the document(s) then; understand it, when it was read to them?

I have serious doubt that 50 or more of 100 people, on any given street in
america today, could understand the book of chronicles read to them in
modern english language.

fred burlingame
On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 2:42 AM, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:

> I don't think that it's that simple. Fred's original question, "was the
> biblical hebrew language, was its masoretic text, created...", is kind of
> ambiguous (as a lot of things that Fred writes, are). Did he mean the
> Iron-Age/exilic/post-exilic Hebrew language in which the texts were
> written,
> or did he mean the specific Masoretic text with its many "reading aids"?
> There is a huge difference. Yes, by the time of the Masoretes, the Torah,
> selected passages from the prophets (the haftarot) and the five scrolls
> (Lamentations, Esther, Qohelet, Song and Ruth) were read out loud in the
> synagogue. Many of the Psalms and some other passages were incorporated
> into
> the liturgy. As far as the rest, I'm not at all sure that anyone who was
> not
> a scholar ever read Proverbs, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Daniel, or even
> the
> Prophets straight through.
> But all this describes the situation in late antiquity and in the Middle
> Ages - and to a certain extent even today. If the question is about the
> original composition of the biblical texts way back in the late pre-exilic,
> exilic and early post-exilic period, when literacy rates were lower and the
> synagogue service as it later developed did not yet exist, it would
> probably
> differ from book to book, from place to place and from period to period.
> Psalms may have been recited in the Temple. Other sections, especially from
> the Torah, may have been read at special gatherings (such as mentioned in
> Ezra and Nehemiah), but my feeling is that for a good part of the early
> Second Temple period, the texts were actually read mostly by "scholars" (of
> whom there were different types).
> However, the biblical Hebrew language was not "created or intended for use"
> by or for anyone. It was the living, spoken language of the people of Judah
> (and, with certain dialectical differences, Israel) during the Iron Age and
> the exilic and post-exilic period. As such it was used by all. Of course,
> as
> with any language, there must have been differences between the spoken and
> the literary forms, but they are still the same language. At what stage it
> ceased being a living, spoken language is a matter of debate, and has been
> discussed on this list in the past.
> Yigal Levin
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Randall Buth
> Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 8:04 AM
> To: Hebrew
> Subject: [b-hebrew] primitivization of language english
> > the biblical hebrew language, was its masoretic
> > text, created or intended for use and/or consumption by the general
> > population; by other than a relatively few highly trained scribes?
> this one's easy: the general population.
> Go listen to a shabbat morning reading where the particular, traditional
> intonation system is regularly used. listen to any bar-mistvah at that
> synagogue.
> --
> Randall Buth, PhD
> www.biblicalulpan.org
> randallbuth at gmail.com
> Biblical Language Center
> Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life
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