[b-hebrew] Tense

Rolf rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no
Fri Dec 14 05:55:42 EST 2012

Dear List-memebers, 

The concluding words John Cook's review of my dissertations are:

"Although Furuli's study of the Hebrew verb is novel, it is little more than a novelty. His theory rests 
on a faulty linguistic understanding of tense-aspect- mood, he has conflated semantics, pragmatics, and 
contextual clues, and he misunderstands many of the Hebrew examples he cites."

In contrast with John's words, Elizabeth R. Hayes in her review says (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/A+New+Understanding+of+the+Verbal+System+of+Classical+Hebrew%3A+an...-a0186861761): 

"While not all will agree with Furuli's conclusions regarding the status of the wayyiqtol as an imperfective form, his well-argued thesis contributes towards advancing methodology in Hebrew scholarship."

And John Kaltner said:

"Semantic considerations have long dominated in treatments of the Hebrew verbal system, and Furuli’s call to take into account pragmatic factors is an important one that is worth considering. How his alternative model will be received remains to be seen, but at the very least his work might encourage some to think of more than just semantics when trying to understand the Hebrew verb." 

It is worth comparing these two reviews with John's review; particularly their tone is different, and that is true with the presentation and conclusions as well.

Now I will compare YIQTOLs with WAYYIQTOLs. I argue that the element that carries the action forward in the sequence of events that constitue a narrative, is not the verb, but the prefixed conjunction of the verb:  AND he did that.. AND she did that, AND...  Further I argue that  WAYYIQTOL is a YIQTOL with prefixed WAW, and therefore we expect that YIQTOLs  can be used in past settings when they are preceded by a word element that prevents the YIQTOL to have a prefixed WAW. This is exactly what we find!


2 Kings 3:24-26: 4 YIQTOLs, 1 WEQATAL, 7 WAYYIQTOLs

1 KIngs 13:33: 1 QATAL,2 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL, 1, 1 WEYIQTOL

Hosea 12:5: 3 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 QATAL, 2 YIQTOLs

Nehemiah 9:27: 2 WAYYIQTOLs, 2 YIQTOLs, 1WEYIQTOL

1 Samuel13:17, 18: 1 WAYYIQTOL, 3 WAYYIQTOLs

2 Chronicle 25:14: 3 WAYYIQTOLs, 2 YIQTOLs

2 Samuel 12:3: 1 QATAL,  3 WAYYIQTOLs, 3 YIQTOLs

2 Kings 8:22: 1 WAYYIQTOL, 1 YIQTOL (same root)

Judges 9:38: 1 WAYYIQTOL, 1 YIQTOL

Isaiah 39:3 1 WAYYIQTOL, 1 YIQTOL, 1 QATAL (of BW() and 1 WAYYIQTOL, 1 QATAL

1 Kings 3:15, 16: 5 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL

Joshua 10:11, 12: 2 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 QATAL, 1 YIQTOL

2 Kings 16:4,5: 3 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL

2 Samuel 12:31: 2 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 QATAL, 1 WEQATAL, 1 YIQTOL

2 Samuel 15:6: 2WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL

Genesis 48:17 3 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL

1 Chronicle 1:8: 2 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL

Genesis 29:2. 1 WAYYIQTOL, 1 YIQTOL

Genesis 37:7: 1 WAYYIQTOL, 1 YIQTOL

2 Samuel 17:17. 3 WAYYIQTOLs, 2 YIQTOLs

Judges 6:4: 2 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL

Daniel 12:8: 1 QATAL, 1 YIQTOL, 1 WAYYYIQTOL

2 Samuel 22:39. 3 WAYYIQTOLs, 1 YIQTOL

2 Samuel 2:28: 2 WAYYITOLs, 1 YIQTOL

Ezra 10:8: 2 YIQTOLs

1 Samuel 1:13: 1 YIQTOL, 1 WAYYIQTOL

I argue that the WAYYIQTOLs and the YIQTOLs represent the same form, and that the prefix-difference is pragmatic, that is, the reason why the YIQTOLs do not have a prefixed WAW  is in most cases that they are preceded by another element that prevents a WAW  from being prefixed.

Conclusion: When the same Ugaritic verb form (conjugation) can have both past and future reference ( as shown in my last post), why cannot the same Hebrew verb form have both past and future reference?

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli

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