[b-hebrew] Xireq Compaginis
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Jul 19 17:10:48 EDT 2013
You wrote: “Are you saying that, for example, the first five books of
Moses were written when? in your opinion.”
Let me first answer in terms of xireq compaginis, and then I’ll answer
your question in more general terms.
1. Xireq Compaginis. In the Amarna Letters from mid-14th century BCE
Canaan proper [excluding Lebanon], the only use of xireq compaginis is by
the scribe of the Hurrian princeling ruler of Jerusalem, IR-Heba. Likewise,
in the entire Hebrew Bible, the only use of xireq compaginis in prose
[excluding poetry and proper names] is in the Patriarchal narratives. That
suggests both that (i) the Patriarchal narratives are older than the rest of
the Bible, and that (ii) the same scribe who was retained by the first
tent-dwelling Hebrews in south-central Canaan to record the Patriarchal
narratives on cuneiform clay tablets may have been one and the same person as the
scribe who a few years earlier had worked for IR-Heba, the Hurrian princeling
ruler of Jerusalem in the Amarna Letters. Is that exciting or what? Here’
s the scholarly documentation of the foregoing.
Per Wm. Moran [the editor of the Amarna Letters] and Robert Hendel [a
famed Hebrew language expert] (the latter in 2012), we know that the archaic
xireq compaginis was occasionally used in Amarna Letters from Jerusalem and
Lebanon. “[Re the first word at Genesis 49: 11:] The usage of the
infinitive absolute with final i (usually called a xiriq campaginis) is known from
the fourteenth century Amarna Letters from Jerusalem and Byblos[, Lebanon].”
Ronald Hendel, “Historical Context”, in Craig A. Evans, Joel N. Lohr,
David L. Petersen, editors, “The Book of Genesis: Composition,
Interpretation, Reception” (2012), pp. 52-53. Thus the only use of xireq compaginis
from Canaan proper in the Amarna Letters is by the scribe of IR-Heba, the
Hurrian princeling ruler of Jerusalem.
Several of the peculiarities of this particular scribe are found in the
Patriarchal narratives, leading one to surmise that after leaving IR-Heba’s
employ in Jerusalem, this particular scribe may have been the very person
who was retained by the first tent-dwelling Hebrews to record the Patriarchal
narratives on cuneiform tablets. For example, Scott C. Layton of Harvard
University notes that the only use of xireq compaginis in non-poetic
common words in the Hebrew Bible is in the Patriarchal narratives. “[T]he
xireq compaginis is definitely an archaic morpheme. With the exception of two
occurrences of this morpheme in Genesis 31: 39 [in the Patriarchal
narratives], a prose passage, all the remaining instances [in the Bible] are
confined to poetry [and proper names, including] Gen. 49.11 [in the Patriarchal
narratives]….” Scott C. Layton, “Archaic Features of Canaanite Personal
Names in the Hebrew Bible” (1990), p. 116.
2. Now let me answer more directly the question that you asked. I see
the Patriarchal narratives as having been composed, and written down on about
50 cuneiform clay tablets, in the mid-14th century BCE.
By contrast, as to all the rest of the Bible, I basically go with
mainstream scholarly opinion. Thus I see the rest of the “five books of Moses”,
including chapter 36 of Genesis but excluding all the rest of the Patriarchal
narratives, as having multiple authors and as not having been recorded in
writing until well into the 1st millennium BCE.
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