[b-hebrew] Re. More on verbs

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Dec 12 15:34:06 EST 2012


Since I know you’ll read this directly, I’ll name you.

I may have misunderstood you, but I was responding in particular to your
response to a previous comment where you wrote, “Third, and relatedly, when
I approach the text, therefore, I ask myself: What is the possible range of
specific meanings for this gram given the patterns of interaction we can
identify between the general meaning and the various contextual factors?”
It’s not just this sentence, but close to half your comment gave me the
impression that I expressed. But as I said, I may have misunderstood you.

Now I have a question concerning your use of the word “interpret”, do you
mean translating it from Hebrew to English, or repeating the idea in one’s
own words? I think in Hebrew when I read Tanakh, so there’s no translating.
But when asked to put into my own words what I’ve read, because the
question is usually in English and my response also, I’ll give my response
in English. Or do you have a different understanding of “interpret”?

As for people basing their actions on the text, all too often I see them
using the text as pretext, that they want to do certain actions then look
for a text to justify their pre-chosen actions. Often that text is taken
out of context, or even worse a poor translation taken out of context, and
cannot be reconciled to the original text in its context. In fact, there’s
a famous theologian who became famous selling millions of books based on
this practice. Is this to which you refer?

A side issue: I think you misinterpret Rolf (or maybe I do). While I don’t
have access to his dissertation, his comments on line give me the
understanding that he thinks the Wayyiqtol is not by form a marker for the
past tense. However, over 90% of the time found in Tanakh it has a past
reference due to its context, namely a context of narrative of past events.
Or another way of saying it, it doesn’t grammaticalize for past tense, but
over 90% of the time it’s found in past tense contexts. If we don’t count
the past tense historical narratives, then what percentage of verbs are
Wayyiqtols and what percentage of them are past referent from their
contexts? That’s a question I haven’t seen answered.

As for the Wayyiqtol having a past tense grammaticalization, I look at
Proverbs 31:10–31 where the feminine form of it is found in verse 13,
15–17, 24–25, and masculine in 28 & 31. This passage is present tense,
imperfective aspect from its context. Therefore all the verbs have present
tense, imperfective aspect meaning. None of these have past reference. How
many other passages are like this?

But I strongly disagree with Rolf that the conjugations are markers for
aspect, and the definition that I’ve seen him use is the same as elsewhere.

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

On Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 10:16 AM, James Spinti <jspinti at eisenbrauns.com>wrote:

> Again this is from John Cook...
> Begin forwarded message:
> *From:* John Cook <jacookvwbus at yahoo.com>
> *Date:* December 12, 2012, 12:18:39 PM EST
> *To:* "b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> *Subject:* *Re. More on verbs*
> Karl:
> I'm not entirely sure your reference is to me and my blog post when you
> write about how "he" reads the Hebrew text. Really now, isn't surmising my
> motives the sort of ad hominem approach that Rolf has claimed does not take
> place here? In any case, isn't it a false distinction to make between
> solving the philological puzzle (i.e., interpreting the text) and applying
> it? How do I know how to apply any linguistic message if I don't first
> interpret it?? As you state, you wanted to know how to apply the biblical
> text better so you read it (i.e., you interpreted it!). My overriding
> interest in interpreting the text is because all too often those religious
> users of the text (Jewish and Christian) seem to skip that step and apply
> whatever meaning (ostensibly a meaning from the text) to their lives. We
> can all agree that the Bible has been misinterpreted often enough to make
> us wary of either abandoning interpretation or pretending we are not doing
> it anyway.
> John
> _______________________________
> John A. Cook
> Associate Professor Old Testament
> Asbury Theological Seminary
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