[b-hebrew] Early and late biblical Hebrew

David Steinberg david.l.steinberg at rogers.com
Fri Nov 25 10:26:02 EST 2011

Yes I agree with him. I suggest that you read his more extensive works -

Young, Ian,- /Diversity in Pre-Exilic Hebrew,/ Forschungen zum Alten 
Testament, Coronet Books Inc, 1993, ISBN-10: 3161460588

- Biblical Hebrew: /Studies in Chronology and Typology/ (Journal for the 
Study of the Old Testament Supplement), T. & T. Clark Publishers, 2004, 
ISBN-10: 0826468411

Young, Ian, Robert Rezetko, Martin Ehrensvärd. /Linguistic Dating of 
Biblical Texts: Volume 1 - An Introduction to Approaches and 
Problems/(BibleWorld) (Paperback), Equinox Publishing (October 2008), 
ISBN-10: 1845530829; Volume 2 - A New Synthesis and a Comprehensive 

Three works that I suggest that you read carefully are:

Van Seters, John (1975) - /Abraham in History and Tradition/ 

Thomas L. Thompson - /The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives/ 
(Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York, 1974). Read the section on names.

Redford, Donald B. (1970) - /A Study of the Biblical Story of Joseph/. 
Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill.

We can assume that biblical prose "historic" texts such as /Samuel, 
Kings/ etc. may have been read by literate scribes. Even these were 
clearly modernized. A careful read of Polzin is worth the effort - 
Polzin, Robert, /Late Biblical Hebrew: Toward an Historical Typology of 
Biblical Hebrew Prose/.  (Scholars Press 1976. This isdiscussed in 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.). Polzin carefully examines the changes in language 
between /Samuel-Kings/ and the parallel passages in /Chronicles/.

One has to accept that most of the literature of the Hebrew Bible was 
meant to be comprehended read or recited aloud by a basically illiterate 
audience in the period of say 800-400 BCE ( see van der Toorn, Karel. 
/Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible/, Harvard University 
Press, 2009 - worth a careful read).The audience would no more have 
understood the language of 1400 -1200 BCE (case, mood, and other short 
vowel endings, the existence of final /y/ and /w/ which were lost in 
later Hebrew consequent on thedisappearance of final short vowels, 
differences in syntax) than a modern audience, not specifically trained 
in Middle English, would understand a recitation of Chaucer. On the 
other hand, a sprinkling ofstandard archaisms in the "archaic poetry" 
would present no more difficulties in comprehension that the scattering 
of "thous", "thys" and "beholds" etc in a 19th century English love 
poem. (See /Time and Modal Implications of PC in Various Categories of 
BH Poetry/ http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrew3a.htm#time_mod_pc )

As far as dating by names go, I have already mentioned the cases of the 
Iliad and the Nibelungenlied both of which contain ancient names and 
originated in known historical events. In both cases they were written 
down much later and neither contains much of the historical events in 
any recognizable form.

The fact that St. George might really have been a third-fourth century 
Roman soldier says nothing about the historicity or date of composition 
of the St. George literature that has come down to us.

The fundamental situation is that we would all like to prove the date of 
various pieces of the biblical text and, in most cases, be able to 
demonstrate that the biblical Abraham, Moses etc. lived and did what 
they are described as doing in the text. However, archaeology, critical 
studies of history etc. contradict such naive readings of the text. The 
linguistic evidence, which Avi Hurvitz (see 
http://www.houseofdavid.ca/anc_heb_6.htm#_edn6 ), Cross etc. considered 
objective indicators of date have turned out to be invalid ( see 
http://www.houseofdavid.ca/anc_heb_6.htm#ident_prex ).

In my view we simply have to accept that we cannot linguistically date 
the material and not to continue to grab at straws.

David Steinberg

1. The material I discuss and reference in the box Can Biblical Texts be 
Linguistically Dated? 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.

On 24/11/2011 6:37 PM, jimstinehart at aol.com wrote:
> David Steinberg:
> 1.In a short article on the Internet, “Linguistic Dating of Biblical 
> Texts“, Ian Young rhetorically remarks:
> “Once it is admitted that the language of the biblical texts has been 
> changed in scribal transmission, the claim that the language of the 
> current texts is evidence of the date of the original authors is 
> thrown into serious doubt.”
> Do you agree?
> 2.Ian Young considers, and often attacks/refutes, the following 
> possible bases for dating a Biblical text:
> (a)Presence of Early Biblical Hebrew linguistic features
> (b)Presence of Late Biblical Hebrew linguistic features
> (c)Presence of Persian loanwords
> (d)Presence of Aramaic features.
> You will note that Ian Youngn-e-v-e-rconsiders whether the presence of 
> Hurrian proper names should be given any consideration whatsoever in 
> dating a Biblical text.He doesn’t even refute such an idea.Why?Why are 
> university scholars so certain, apparently without ever having given 
> the matter a moment’s thought, that the presence of Hurrian proper 
> names should be totally ignored for all purposes in dating a Biblical 
> text?When I mention the presence of 6 Hurrian-based names for the 
> Hurrians at Genesis 15: 19-21, why isn’t that at least worth 
> considering as a factor in dating the composition of the Patriarchal 
> narratives?In particular, if Qa-a-ni-ya/QYN-Y and Qa-ni-zi-ya/QN-Z-Y 
> at Genesis 15: 19 are the only two names in the entire Bible that are 
> Akkadian-based names with Hurrian characteristics, why isn’t that a 
> critical clue in dating the Patriarchal narratives?
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois

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