[b-hebrew] More on verbs

Rolf rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no
Wed Dec 12 01:56:51 EST 2012

Dear James,

A basic principle of the discussions on b-hebrew is that we treat other persons and their views with respect. We can disagree with other members, even having strong disagreements. But we do not, or at least, we should not, use ad hominem attacks,  implying that we KNOW and the others do not know, but they are stupid. John Cook does not meet this standard, particularly by using the word "silly," and by this implying that other scholars are stupid persons. He says:

1) "It is just silly to continue arguing over basic definitions that are widely agreed upon already, because it both wastes time and halts progress." But this is exactly the way science works! Scientific progress is caused by scholars who questions established "facts" and try to go new ways. Cook has certain definitions of aspect, and many others agree. I for one do not accept these definitions, but calling my approach "silly" (=stupid), that it "wastes time" and "halts progress" shows a lack of respect for me as a scholar.

Cook says:

2) "I made just this point in my review of Furuli’s work, which he continues to defend on b-Hebrew by special pleading about the unique character of aspect in Hebrew." I challenge Cook to give a detailed description on b-hebrew of how I use "special pleading."  Wickipedia gives the following definition:
"Special pleading, also known as stacking the deck, ignoring the counterevidence, slanting, and one-sided assessment,[1] is a form of spurious argument where a position in a dispute introduces favourable details or excludes unfavourable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations. Essentially, this involves someone attempting to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exemption.

So I ask Cook: What counterevidence have I ignored? What unfavorable details have I excluded? Where do I cite something as an exemption to a general rule without justifying the exemption?

Cook says:

3)  "The silliness of the consciously synchronic approaches is enough to demonstrate that point (not Joosten, but e.g., Diethelm Michel)"  Again a scholar is said to be stupid; this time it is D. Michel. I find the study of Michel to be an important contribution to the study of Hebrew verbs. He proceeds along new ways, and particularly his use of the Psalms to analyze the WAYYIQTOL form rather than using narratives, where the verb must have past reference, and we cannot know whether the past reference is pragmatic or semantic, is important. In my view, Cook has not succeeded in showing a DIACHRONIC grammaticalization process for the WAYYIQTOL form, which is a basic task of his work. Nevertheless, I find his dissertation to be a fine scholarly work.

4) According to Cook,  A. Andrason of the University of Stellenbosch lacks "a clear grasp of Hebrew data." His approach is "naive and unhelpful," and "his theory remains at the theoretical level and is virtually useless for the philological task if decipering the biblical Hebrew text." And, there is a "fatal flaw in the flurry of publications from Alexander Andrason." Thus, Andrason is stupid as well, according to Cook.

I do not find Cook's article to be "a nice overview," but rather a one-sided judgment of the works of other scholars without showing these scholars the respect they deserve.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli

Tirsdag 11. Desember 2012 17:39 CET skrev James Spinti <jspinti at eisenbrauns.com>: 
> John Cook has posted a nice overview of 10 years worth of his thinking about the Hebrew verb and where do we go from here. Hint: agreeing on definitions would be a good place to start…
> http://ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/hebrew-verb-theory/
> Let the arguments commence : )
> James
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