[b-hebrew] Tense

James Spinti jspinti at eisenbrauns.com
Thu Dec 13 14:36:27 EST 2012


Once again, this is from John...
________________________________
James Spinti
E-mail marketing, Book Sales Division
Eisenbrauns, Good books for more than 35 years
Specializing in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies
jspinti at eisenbrauns dot com
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Begin forwarded message:

> From: "John A. Cook" <john.cook at asburyseminary.edu>
> Subject: Re: b-hebrew Digest, Vol 120, Issue 21
> Date: December 13, 2012 1:29:23 PM CST
> To: James Spinti <JSpinti at Eisenbrauns.com>
> 
> Dear Rolf,
> 
> My comments appear seriatim below (i've cut out the earlier levels to save some space).
> 
> On Dec 13, 2012, at 12:00 PM, b-hebrew-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:
> 
>> ------------------------------
>> 
>> Message: 9
>> Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2012 17:27:19 +0100
>> From: "Rolf" <rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no>
>> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Fwd: Tense
>> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
>> Message-ID: <a1f-50ca0200-1f-40b45880 at 62831029>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>> 
>> Dear John,
>> 
>> RF: I have the following comments on a part of your post:
>> 
>> Is this the way you use to discuss matters with colleagues and fellow scholars?: "You force your preconceived notions onto the text." In my student days I was taught that we should treat our colleagues in a cordial and respectful way. But your language is rude and not worthy of a scholarly discussion.
> 
> JAC: I'm not sure how it is rude to point out that you appear to force preconceived notions onto the text; we are talking about your argument. But perhaps we ought to bear in mind that there may be no final answer to what language qualifies as "rude" or "cordial" in academic discussion (tongue in cheek!). 
>> 
>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> You force your preconceived notions onto the text in a way no more acceptable than the old rabbinic explanation for how this account can appear next to that of Genesis 1: to wit, God "RE-FORMED" all the creatures for Adam to name because the first set (Genesis 1) ran away! Here we have a simple narrative sequence of wayyiqtols followed by two modal yiqtols:
>> 
>> RF: The setting is as follows: I have analyzed the 80.000 finite and infinite verbs of Classical Hebrew using the parameters deictic center, event time, and reference time. One conclusion of this study, which lasted ten years, is that the   WAYYIQTOL is not an independent grammatical form. But it is a YIQTOL with a prefixed conjunction. You disagree with this conclusion, something that I respect. But you cannot rightly say that a conclusion reached after a long and careful study, represents "preconceived notions." When a scholar has reached a conclusion regarding the meaning of a verb form, it is normal that s/he applies this conclusion to the text and to the translation of sentences. To say that this is the same as "to force upon the text" preconceived notions is repulsive language.
>> 
>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> 'Yhwh God FORMED out of the ground every animal of the field and every bird of the air and he BROUGHT them to the man to see what he MIGHT call them; and whatever the man WOULD call them that was/is its name.'
>>>>> 
>>>>> A few comments: (1) the initial two verbs are simply past narratives (yes, past tense, grammaticalized temporal location as prior to the speaker's deictic center and then, once the narrative sequence is begun the verbs pragmatically express simple successive events (see Smith 2003); (2) the first yiqtol makes perfectly good sense as an irrealis mood 'might'?i.e., God gave the man the chance to call the creatures whatever he wanted to; (3) the final yiqtol then expresses what the man wanted to call them (i.e., would = past of will = volitive expression not tense); (4) the final null copula clause seems ambiguous: for the ancient reader these names are the ones that are still used in their own reference time, so it might be better present than past reference here.
>> 
>> RF: Your translations and comments are based on your study of Hebrew verbs and the conclusion that WAYYIQTOL is past tense and perfective, and my translations and comments are based on my study of Hebrew verbs and the conclusion that YIQTOL and WAYYIQTOL are equivalent and represent the imperfective aspect.
> 
> JAC: So your point is . . . ? Your defense would appear to amount to (1) "I've studied a whole lot of the verbs, so my view has merit and should be respected and not challenged" and (2) "You take your view, I take mine, lets leave it at that." One can claim to have walked 100 miles to get somewhere, but if you walked the wrong direction there is no merit in that! So we are back to our most basic difference, which would seem to be that I on the one hand think that certain theories and explanations are superior to others, and your view, that seems to want to simply let every theory that people have worked hard on stand and at the same time admit we'll never understand the verbal system. I prefer my position to yours if we are to make any real advancement in our knowledge.
>> 
>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>>> The imperfective force of the WAYYIQTOL FORM is clearly seen in 2:21 where one WAYYIQTOL intersects another WAYYIQTOL: "Then YHWH God caused a deep sleep to fall (WAYYIQTOL) upon the man. And while he was sleeping (WAYYIQTOL), he took (WAYYIQTOL) one of his ribs, and closed up (WAYYIQTOL) the flesh over its place."
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> The third WAYYIQTOL expresses a state "while he was sleeping" and this state is intersected by the next  WAYYIQTOL "he took one of the man's ribs."  A parallel clause is: While John was reading the paper, Kate entered the room." Such a sentence is used by Comrie and others to demonstrate that the English participle FORM is imperfective.
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>>>>> No, it is not clearly seen; here you miss that the stative verbs may easily fit within a narrative sequence by their ambiguous stative-inchoative interpretation:
>>>>> 
>>>>> 'Yhwh God MADE a deep sleep FALL upon the man and he FELL ASLEEP (inchoative past narrative) and he took one of the ribs from the man and he closed the flesh over it.'
>>>>> 
>>>>> The intersection of time here comes from the fact that 'sleep' is not fully bound by the past-tense, perfective-aspect wayyiqtol (se Smith 1999; Cook 2004, 2012); but the narrative sequence continues to hold to the irreversibility principle that defines narrative: the events cannot be reported in the reverse order without a change in meaning (i.e., sleep fell first, then man fell asleep, then God took a rib, then he closed it up; it cannot happen with the same meaning in any other order).
>>>>> 
>>>>> You need to do reading beyond Comrie and Olsen so as to discover the gradual nuancing of these things in linguistics; unlike the field of biblical studies, dates of publications really matter in linguistics!
>> 
>> I have 10 Bible translations on my computer. JPS says: "So the LORD God cast a deep sleep upon the man; and, while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at the spot." The translations NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT-SE, RSV, SEGR (French), and TEV have similar readings. I suppose that the translators of these 9 versions were familiar with modern linguistics. Yet they translate 2:21 in a similar way as I do.  NRSV is neutral and Luther has: "Da liess Gott der HERR einen Tiefen Schlaf fallen auf den Menschen, und er schlief ein. Und er nahm eine seiner Rippen und Schloss dei Stelle mit Fleisch."
> 
> JAC: I think Karl might take some issue with your reliance on translations! It is rather a broad and simplistic claim to say that "the translators of these 9 versions were familiar with modern linguistics." That is in no wise the case; most such translators, unless associated with a Bible society, are biblical scholars who have never taken any linguistic course. But, if you want to introduce translations, I'm assuming you are using the old JPS, for the NJPS (1985) has this: So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. "He slept" or "He fell asleep" are both accurate renderings of the wayyiqtol of a stative verb—past tense and perfective aspect.
> 
> John
> http://ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com/
> 
>> 
>> I fully respect that you have a different view of the Hebrew verbal system than I have, and that you argue in favor of that. But please argue in a civilized and cordial way.
>> 
>> 
>> Best regards,
>> 
>> 
>> Rolf Furuli
>> Stavern
>> Norway
> 

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