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Historical Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew

Historical Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew: Steps Toward an Integrated Approach

Robert Rezetko
Ian Young
  • Book Info
    Historical Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew
    Book Description:

    A philologically robust approach to the history of ancient Hebrew

    In this book the authors work toward constructing an approach to the history of ancient Hebrew that overcomes the chasm of academic specialization. The authors illustrate how cross-textual variable analysis and variation analysis advance research on Biblical Hebrew and correct theories based on extra-linguistic assumptions, intuitions, and ideologies by focusing on variation of forms/uses in the Masoretic text and variation between the Masoretic text and other textual traditions.


    A unique approach that examines the nature of the sources and the description of their language togetherExtensive bibliography for further researchTables of linguistic variables and parallels

    eISBN: 978-1-62837-046-1
    Subjects: Religion, Language & Literature, Linguistics

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Robert Rezetko and Ian Young
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    A convenient point to begin telling the story behind this book is in the 1990s with the so-called “maximalist” and “minimalist” (or “traditionalist” and “revisionist”) controversy.¹ It was then that we saw the publication of writings by Knauf,² Davies,³ and Cryer,⁴ which in one way or another looked to undermine the conventional linguistic chronology of preexilic Early (or Classical or Standard) Biblical Hebrew (EBH, CBH, or SBH) developing into postexilic Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH). To these, Ehrensvärd⁵ and Hurvitz⁶ tried to offer strong rebuttals, emphasizing the relevance of external linguistic controls, such as the nature of the language of monarchic-era...

  6. Chapter 2 Historical Linguistics: Key Issues for Biblical Hebrew
    (pp. 13-58)

    For thousands of years people have been thinking about language, its origins, and the relationships between languages. Yet it is commonplace to situate the roots of present-day historical (or diachronic) linguistics in the late eighteenth century, developing from philology, and especially in the nineteenth century, with the development of the comparative method.¹ In this chapter we explore some topics of contemporary historical linguistic theory and method which, in our estimation, are especially relevant nowadays to the study of ancient Hebrew. Our focus is on the four key issues and questions that we introduced in chapter 1 (1.2): the objective of...

  7. Chapter 3 Textual Criticism: Prelude to Cross-Textual Variable Analysis of Biblical Hebrew
    (pp. 59-116)

    In the previous chapter we saw that historical linguistic research is dependent on an assessment of the nature of the sources. The first step in diachronic linguistic analysis of ancient documents should be to investigate which sources should be used, what sort of sources they are, what quantity and quality of linguistic information they provide, and similar questions. No matter how good the method, if the analysis is done on the wrong data, or based on a false understanding of the character of those data, then the excellence of the method is of no avail.

    Let us illustrate this through...

  8. Chapter 4 Cross-Textual Variable Analysis: Theory and Method
    (pp. 117-144)

    In this chapter we aim to accomplish the following objectives. We begin by introducing three common procedures for the capture and analysis of linguistic variables in written sources, intra-, inter-, and cross-textual analysis, with a special focus on the latter (4.2). Then we give some illustrations of cross-textual variable analysis in English, French, and Spanish writings (4.3). Next we give a synopsis of past research on parallel texts in the MT Bible and on biblical writings that have survived in multiple manuscripts, in particular the MT, DSS, and LXX (4.4). Finally we summarize several additional issues, including the kinds of...

  9. Chapter 5 Cross-Textual Variable Analysis: Parallel Passages
    (pp. 145-170)

    In the previous chapter we introduced theoretical and methodological issues related to cross-textual variable analysis. In this and the following chapter we explore a selection of biblical writings using the general approach of CTVA, which especially in the case of the parallel passages we have tailored to our own objectives. The studies in this chapter could be developed further and many other linguistic items and parallel texts could be investigated. Our hope in fact is that others will follow up and do this. But our own objectives are more modest in the framework of this book. In this chapter we...

  10. Chapter 6 Cross-Textual Variable Analysis: Samuel Manuscripts
    (pp. 171-210)

    We have documented that there has been a tendency for scholars of BH to conduct their research and draw their conclusions on the assumption that the MT is, in effect, the original text of the Hebrew Bible (chapter 3, 3.4, 3.6). We mentioned that prominent voices such as Kutscher led scholars to think that linguistic variants in non-MT biblical manuscripts were deviations from the original language used by the biblical authors. And we mentioned that some scholars have even classifiednon-MT biblicalmanuscripts asnon-biblical. We have also documented that this MT-centered attitude is at odds with the consensus of...

  11. Chapter 7 Variationist Analysis: Theory and Method
    (pp. 211-244)

    We have commented that any theory of the history and periodization of BH should account for at least two sorts of linguistic facts: variation within the corpus of the MT biblical writings, because the MT is the only complete Hebrew text of the Bible, and variation between the MT and other textual traditions of individual biblical books. Accordingly, in the preceding chapters we used CTVA to examine linguistic variants in some parallel passages in the MT and in the MT and DSS manuscripts of the book of Samuel. In this chapter we discuss a second method for studying variation in...

  12. Chapter 8 Variationist Analysis: Lexical Studies
    (pp. 245-328)

    In the previous chapter we introduced the theory and method of variationist analysis. Chapter 7 is the fundamental background to this chapter and the next one where we present a series of lexical and grammatical case studies. In this chapter we focus on lexical examples, first the verb lexeme רדש for “to study” (8.2), and then a collection of ten “late” verb lexemes and their “early” variants (8.3). In addition, our first case study in the next chapter also addresses the “late” noun lexeme מלכות and its “early” counterpart ממלכה (“kingdom”; 9.2). In chapter 9 we turn to some grammatical...

  13. Chapter 9 Variationist Analysis: Grammatical Studies
    (pp. 329-404)

    For a general introduction to our lexical and grammatical case studies see chapter 8 (8.1). In this chapter we examine three grammatical issues using the variationist approach. They are abstract nouns in ות–, and the specific lexeme מלכות (9.2); the pronominal endings ותם– and והיתם– (9.3); and the directivehe(הָ◌–) (9.4). After these case studies we will discuss the relevance of our findings in chapters 8–9 to the matter of periodization (states and transitions) (9.5).

    One of the most widely discussed items in diachronic studies of BH is the noun מלכות. It is discussed both as...

  14. Chapter 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 405-412)

    The origin of the writings in the Hebrew Bible is a controversial subject that has long fascinated and divided laypeople and academics. Even experts, including Hebraists and biblicists, often have opposing views on when and how the Bible became a book, and about the circumstances of its writing, revising, and copying by many people in different times and places. With the hope of arriving at more certain conclusions about the Bible’s production, and persuading others that they are right, scholars have expended a lot of energy trying to establish the absolute and relative dates of the biblical writings using a...

  15. Appendix 1: Linguistic Variants in Parallel Passages in the Masoretic Text
    (pp. 413-452)
  16. Appendix 2: Commentary on Linguistic Variants in MT and Qumran Samuel
    (pp. 453-592)
  17. Appendix 3: Some More Not-So-Random Thoughts
    (pp. 593-600)
  18. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 645-656)
  19. Index of Biblical and Related Texts
    (pp. 657-699)