[b-hebrew] FYI: Aramaic study

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 13:22:09 EST 2010

> JK:  ...  Hebrew remained the language of the
> Tanakh and continued to be used in certain pockets like the DSS community,
> the priesthood and the literate, even continuing to develop dialects.

there is a problem here that is covered up by having this discussion
in English without a close acquaintance with the primary data.
'dialects' hides the fact that there were two distinct registers. And
those registers were in contemporaneous use. Dual register systems
arise where a high register is preserved for formal communication and
a low register is used in common speech. "pan-aramaists" like to talk
as if Aramaic was the low language and Hebrew was the high language,
using Latin" as their model (sometimes forgetting that vulgar Latin
dialects and proto-romance language are developments of Latin itself).
In reality, Literary Hebrew (yes, in dialects) was the high language
and 'mishnaic' Hebrew was the low language (also in apparent dialects)
to literary Hebrew. Both were distinct from Aramaic and Greek in a
multilingual situation.

> and the discussions of the Mishnah were written
> down in the language of those discussions, Aramaic.

 just how much of the Jerusalem Talmud is Aramaic? 25%? Less? How much less?

On secondary sources, it is best to read those who live and breath the
difference between Literary and Mishnaic Hebrew. My favorite
description of the situation was by Abba Bendavid, Leshon miqra ulshon
Hakamim, 2 vol, 1967. His description from about page 80 to 165 is

Randall Buth

Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list