[b-hebrew] song of Deborah

David Steinberg david.l.steinberg at rogers.com
Fri Nov 18 08:13:01 EST 2011

Karl -

Thanks for your reply.

The point that Vern and others make and sustain is not that the "archaic 
poetry" is "late" but that it is a thin and conventionalized 
archaization (like using "thou" in nineteenth century English poetry of 
the language of general biblical Hebrew poetry. In fact, it could be 
very ancient with the language updated to be comprehensible to the 
listeners of recited poetry in mid to late First Temple Judah or written 
any time 800-400 BCE. The language, in fact tells you nothing about the 
date of composition, early or late.

Re the reconstruction of the nature and pronunciation of pre-exilic 
Hebrew, of course the reconstruction of any no longer existing 
pronunciation of any language is to a greater or lesser extent 
speculative. For the reconstruction of pre-exilic Hebrew pronunciation 
see http://www.houseofdavid.ca/anc_heb_tequ.htm .

David Steinberg

On 17/11/2011 9:29 AM, K Randolph wrote:
> David:
> If one recognizes that there were some 30 generations separating the 
> last native speakers of Biblical Hebrew (it survived as a second but 
> official language for generations after it ceased being spoken 
> natively) and Tiberian pronunciation, and at least eight generations 
> before the earliest transliterations to Greek (one generation is 
> sufficient for mispronunciations to appear, as workers among 
> immigrants and their children can attest), there is no way that the 
> pronunciation was preserved. I even think the “matres lexionis” (sp?) 
> were a post exile interpretation of pre-exile orthography.
> I looked at your link, and it is so speculative. As speculation based 
> on speculation, what probability is there that it is correct?
> As for the dating of Deborah’s song, we have historical records 
> indicating its date, so in the absence of any solid linguistic 
> evidence to the contrary, why not just accept the historical date? And 
> in accepting its historically attested date, does that not bring some 
> of the speculation into question?
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 7:50 AM, David Steinberg 
> <david.l.steinberg at rogers.com <mailto:david.l.steinberg at rogers.com>> 
> wrote:
>     The early dating of the so called "archaic poetry" is essentially
>     based
>     on the work of Albright, Cross and Freedman. It always went well
>     beyond
>     the evidence but has now been shown to be unfounded. A few elderly
>     scholar whose reputations are bound up in early datings - Cross
>     and Avi
>     Hurvitz - still maintain the early dates but the evidence is against
>     them. See -
>     1. The material I discuss and reference in the box /Can Biblical Texts
>     be Linguistically Dated?/ http://www.houseofdavid.ca/anc_heb_6.htm
>     <http://www.houseofdavid.ca/anc_heb_6.htm>
>     2. Vern, Robyn, "The Relevance of Linguistic Evidence to the Early
>     Dating of the Archaic Poetry of the Hebrew Bible", PhD dissertation,
>     University of Sydney, 2008.
>      If you look at the text of any of the so called archaic poems,and you
>     revert it to its probable form c. 1200-1400 BCE (add case, mood, and
>     other short vowel endings, revert contractions of final /y/ and /w/
>     consequent on the disapearance of final short vowels etc.) you
>     will find
>     that the orthography is not really archaic and, in many cases, such as
>     the use of /matres/ - is often typologically late.
>     David Steinberg

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