[b-hebrew] hebrew is dead?

fred burlingame tensorpath at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 12:23:06 EST 2010

this is not good news.

for the announced purpose of the latter 1/3 of this document included an
existential debate with your minority of hebrew scholars below about their
biblical hebrew language scrolls. And such debate, framed in the context of
the great language of the west (greek) or the great language of the east
(aramaic) at that time ..... would have likely been met with laughter.

Clearly, the death, nice funeral and pleasant burial of the biblical hebrew
language, well before that time ... represents a much more palatable version
of history.


fred burlingame

On Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 10:28 AM, Nir cohen - Prof. Mat.
<nir at ccet.ufrn.br>wrote:

> dear colleagues,
> i avoided anexing the extensive debate over the burial of the
> hebrew language during the last few days, due to its length.
> one has to make a clear distinction between biblical hebrew and
> the more recent strata. it is difficult to pinpoint an exact time
> frame which separates those, as the latter ones have not emerged from
> the former in a single, well determined step.
> clearly, hebrew in general never stopped to be used in SOME restricted
> circles, and knew several revivals, such as the golden era in spain
> (roughly
> the time frame of the aleppo script). as far as i know, it has always been
> in use among the yemenite jews, till their recent immigration to israel.
> i do not know whether their hebrew can be classified as biblical.
> mishnaic and medieval hebrew, besides aramaic, was used for
> correspondences and biblical studies throughout this time.
> clearly MOST jews lost daily contact with the hebrew language
> during this period, except (at most) for the prayers.
> there is, however, a small minority which continued to study
> BIBLICAL hebrew extensively. i
> am speaking of yeshiva/midrash students. the picture of the rabbi (or,
> more precisely, baal tfila/chazan etc) READING the bible in front of the
> illiterate congregation certainly does not apply here. their way
> of study has ALWAYS been a careful vertical analysis of the text (tora,
> mishna, gmara, mefarshim), starting always with the biblical text.
> this type of study was initiated by the first mishnaic rabbis and
> sanhedrin in the roman era.
> while biblical hebrew passed away as a spoken language more or less in
> parallel to the destruction of the two temples, it has always remained an
> object of careful in-depth study by this group of people. i tend to think
> that
> most of the masoretic texts, including the edition of the Tanakh, were
> written
> with these "consumers" in mind.
> this, and more: the hebrew alfabet and some biblical texts
> were included in the jewish "primary school" (cheder) curriculum,
> at least  for many centuries now.
> i have no data as to what percentage of the population sent their
> boys and young adults to the cheder, and then to the yeshiva, at
> any given time. but clearly the numbers are substantial and
> cannot be ignored in this debate.
> best
> nir cohen
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