[b-hebrew] hebrew is dead?

Jack Kilmon jkilmon at historian.net
Tue Dec 28 22:48:38 EST 2010


Fred:

It is true that Aramaic replaced Hebrew as the vernacular in the 2nd Temple
period but if you can quote anyone who claimed that Hebrew "died" and was
"buried" I encourage you to do so or please bury this repeated red herring
instead.

Jack Kilmon



--------------------------------------------------
From: "fred burlingame" <tensorpath at gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 11:23 AM
To: "Nir cohen - Prof. Mat." <nir at ccet.ufrn.br>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] hebrew is dead?

> 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.
> http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/codex/default.aspx
>
> 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.
>
> regards,
>
> 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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