[b-hebrew] Unpointed, plus qal passive K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Mon Jun 21 12:19:49 EDT 2010

The following includes a few misunderstandings by KR
in providing 'statements/evidence'. This makes discussion longer
and more difficult.

> [KF]
>>> because Aramaic was a close cognate language of Biblical Hebrew, they
>>> tended
>>> to give the unpointed text of Tanakh even pronunciations based on their
>>> knowledge of Aramaic and the Aramaic rules of pronunciation of unpointed
>>> Aramaic.
[RB]>> I see that you have not added even one example to back your claim.
> There were studies made on people who know more than one language,
> some of which I read as I was interested in linguistics, as to how they dealt with
> their languages, how well they kept them apart, if they did: in other words,
. . .

The is irrelevant, because the question is not whether or not language
interference takes place. The question is whether Hebrew traditions have been
rewritten on the basis of Aramaic traditions. For that, it would be easy to
provide evidence. For example, during Second Temple times it is easy to
point out Aramaic loanwords, and Persian loanwords, that have been
incorporated into Hebrew. Just like loan words in languages throughout the
world are continually crossing language borders and being imported.
Structures are imported, too. And in mishnaic Hebrew times we have
evidence of massive knowledge of Greek and some Latin, since Greek
and Latin words have been adopted into both mishnaic Hebrew and talmudic
Aramaic. However, during all of these periods, the basic integrity of the
languages is maintained, and maintained separately. Hebrew was Hebrew
and Aramaic was Aramaic. The people were multi-lingual and maintained
distinctive traditions. They did not 'read Hebrew thru Aramaic'. (Ironically,
there is evidence of re-reading mishnaic Hebrew through biblical eyes,
in medieval times. But that should be understandable, shouldn't it?)
And they placed the preservation of the BH language in high regard,
recognizing and preserving its distinction from Aramaic.
Conversely, if they rewrote and virtually erased BHebrew based on
Aramaic, then please provide EVIDENCE of it.

> And
> now you are trying to convince me that an unwritten pronunciation was
> maintained unchanged over 30 generations when it is rare to maintain it over
> one? Don’t the different transcriptions from differing times and places
> already put a lie to that claim?

This is another basic misinterpretation by Karl. No one is claiming that
no changes have taken place in Hebrew from Ezra to the Masoretes.
Languages change over time. What is important is to document and
explain the changes. Karl claims that the changes are direct misreadings
through Aramaic. The data show that that is an "impossible" position.
{NB: 'impossible' here, means beyond a level of improbability that would
require massive conspiracy theories to account for the data. Maybe some
space people came and devised a morphology so that later
researchers would mistakenly recognize organic development within the
Hebrew tradition.} Researchers are aware that the bgdkefet letters are
phonologically developed. They are NOT convinced that the
morphological character of the grammar categories has been changed
by this. By and large the begedkefet phenomena are phonetic, ie.
sub-phonemic, non-meaningful alterations. Everything is still
transparently visible.

>> Yet biblical Aramaic is differently vocalized …[from] Onkelos Aramaic….
> Where is your evidence for that? Did Aramaic already have a written vowel
> system during Biblical times that was not preserved in the Bible?

We have both the MT traditions of Biblical Hebrew and the MT traditions
of biblical Aramaic. They reflect different morphologies and different
languages that have been separately preserved. Their internal consistancies
and developments can even be studied. So that sometimes we have
surprises like ktiv/qre in biblical Aramaic where the qre form is preserving
earlier Aramaic traditions rather than later ones as is typical in BH
And Onkelos (a second century CE Aramaic translation recorded in the
East in a literary dialect and later adopted in the west, supplanting a
western Palestinian tradition from the 2-3 centuriesCE.) also has a
vocalized tradition. Onkelosian Aramaic is a distinct dialect different from
biblical Aramaic, from Qumran Aramaic, and from 'Palestinian Aramaic',
both talmudic and targumic Pal Aram varieties. All of this can be studied
and examined for its impact on BH. What is immediately observable, of
course, is that each of these traditions is dialectally separate, and none
of them explain the shape of the biblical Hebrew in the MT. One is
compelled to 'conspiracy theory' in order to make the broad,
unsubstantiated claim that the MT is linguistically 'untrustworthy'
because it was 'written thru Aramaic lenses'. That is nonsense.

>> Finally, I was sad to see you return to your refrain, proclaiming the
>> consonants
>> 'close enough' and then dismissing the vocalization as 'untrustworthy'. But
>> you
>> haven't shown any linguistic proof/evidence of linguistic
>> untrustworthiness.

> When I first learned Hebrew, I was taught in class what the professor
> called
> the Yemenite pronunciation of the Masoretic points. I have since come to
> the
> conclusion that those points indicate pronunciations that are inaccurate
> as far as preserving the pronunciation of the consonants, which were
> written, let alone the vowels which prior to the Masoretes were not written.
> Yes I refer to the BGD KPT, but I also include the sin/shin distinction.

This only shows language development, something acknowledged by
everyone. It doesn't show wholescale changing of the structure of the
language. More importantly, it doesn't show an untrustworthiness of
the language if the internal linguistic development can be shown to
be preserved.

> But the most important reason I claim that the vowel points are
> untrustworthy is because they sometimes indicate meanings that are
> gibberish, i.e. just plain wrong. And I slowly came to this conclusion after
> reading Tanakh over and over and over again (something you admit you have
> not done).

Gibberish?! Even gibberish would have its story to tell and would need
explaining. But I am not sure that Karl has the tools to do this. And Karl
must distinguish between an interpretation of a verse that he disputes
and between corruption of the language. I have previously listed an
example of such. Is 53.5 has MT Havurato 'his association'. The lack
of the dagesh tells me that the Masoretes did not read 'Habburato'
"his wound". The LXX backs the interpretation of 'wound', and a person
may accept or reject the MT as they like. But they cannot accuse the
Masoretes of ignorance of Hebrew based on evidence like this. To the
contrary, it shows mastery and understanding of the Hebrew language

Maybe the time has come to set another Karlism straight. You asked
some time ago, if I had read the whole Hebrew Bible. [The question itself
was comical, sort of like a little leaguer asking a professional baseball
pitcher if they had ever thrown a slider.]  I mentioned that I had read
it thru cover to cover a couple of times in the mid 70s. You concluded,
but I did not say, that I had only read it a couple of times. I ignored
your follow-up comments of diminuition at the time, as irrelevant. I have
no idea how many times I've read the books of Bible. Somewhere
between beaucoup and harbe. I worked in Bible translation in Africa
for twenty years, because of my background, always read from the
original languages, with beaucoup/harbe readings. I slowly came to the
conclusion that the MT was even more linguistically reliable than I had
been taught when young. Until the mid-20th century it was fashionable
to 'rewrite' the text according to the Greek LXX. That position has been
in full-scale retreat since Qumran. But as mentioned, it is not the
interpretation of individual verses or words that is under discussion here,
but whether or not the MT provides an authentic, organic witness to
BH. It does. Conspiracy theories and claims that the language is
"untrustworthy" as language will need to amass quite a bit of evidence
to support such a claim. And once again, there is NO evidence brought
forth by Karl. Does Karl want to doubt the pi``el, based on BA-BA-BA
phonology theory? Does Karl want to claim that pi``al like shillam was
based on Aramaic dreams after eating tacos? Evidence would help.
But the pi``el is secure, and the pi``al will not be erased from the record
if Karl doesn't happen to like it.

The bottom line is the need for evidence, but the evidence comes from
evaluating details for which Karl does not have the tools. It would be
polite to acknowledge this and to perhaps restrict claims and discussion
to items that can have relevant data brought. Go ahead and dispute
verses, but please stop trying to imply that the Maoretes had a poor
knowledge of Hebrew or were systematically corrupting it. Scholars
will recognize such claims as 'rantings' but beginners can't tell the
difference. Or else bring relevant data for discussion, not 'suspicion'.

And again, while the thread name mentions 'qal passive', not a
word of reasonable explanation comes for explaining the existence
of the BH internal *qutal/yuqtal passive in the MT.


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

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