Monthly Archives: December 2012

Kim, “Early Biblical Hebrew, Late Biblical Hebrew, and Linguistic Variability”

I just finished reading Dong-Hyuk Kim’s dissertation, Early Biblical Hebrew, Late Biblical Hebrew, and Linguistic Variability: A Sociolinguistic Evaluation of the Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts (VTS 156; Leiden: Brill, 2013). I may write a longer review here sometime, but I wanted to commend it to everyone before I forgot.

First, despite a few typos, the book is lucid and well-written. It did not feel like I was reading a dissertation, which have a tendency to be dry and technical; instead, it is engaging and concise, which I appreciated very much. Kim’s monograph is an example of scholarly writing done well.

Second, the argument is nuanced and scientific. Over against the two sides in the debate over dating the books of the Hebrew Bible on the basics of linguistics (i.e., Ian Young, Robert Rezetko, and Martin Ehrensvärd against the traditional view set forth by Robert Polzin and Avi Hurvitz), Kim argues for a middle position in the debate. Using historical sociolinguistics, he argues that the language of the Hebrew Bible changes over time; however, this change was gradual and may not be used to date texts whose dates are otherwise unknown (that is, his method is descriptive, not prescriptive). His methodology is cautious and sound, and his conclusions are sure to shape the future of the debate.

Third, in addition to arguing a novel point, Kim’s monograph serves as an excellent introduction to the debate over linguistic dating of the texts of the Hebrew Bible. I started the book with next to no knowledge of the debate (I got it via interlibrary loan simply because the title sounded interesting), but Kim did a very good job of explaining the different sides, such that by the time he got to his own argument, I felt I had a firm grasp on the current shape of the debate.

Kim’s book is solid overall, and I heartily recommend it both to anyone with an interest in linguistic dating of the Hebrew Bible and as a very good example of good scholarly writing.

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I think I just became an eight-case believer…

…in terms of historic grammar, at least.

I was searching through Smyth for some information on the syntax of the dative case, and I stumbled across his discussion of adverbs. According to Smyth,

Adverbs, like prepositions and conjunctions, were originally case forms, made from the stems of nouns and pronouns. Some of these nominal and pronominal stems have gone out of common use, so that only petrified forms are left in the adverbs. Some of these words were still felt to be live cases; in others no consciousness of their origin survived. Many adverbs show old suffixes joined to the stem or to a case form (342). It is sometimes uncertain whether we should speak of adverbs or of nouns with local endings.

Smyth then gives a list of the different cases that have forms fossilized in adverbs. First, four of the five that everyone accepts (excepting the vocative):

Nominative (rare): πύξ with clenched fist, ἅπαξ once, ἀναμίξ pell-mell.

Genitive: ἕνης day after to-morrow, ἑξῆς next, ποῦ, οὗ where, αὐτοῦ in the very place, ἐκποδών out of the way (ἐκ ¨ ποδῶν); by analogy, ἐμποδών in one’s way.

Dative: δημοσίᾳ at public cost, λάθρᾳ in secret, κοινῇ in common, etc. (1527 b), ἄλλῃ otherwise, πῇ how.

Accusative: very common, especially such adverbs as have the form of the accusative of neuter adjectives, as πολύ much, μι_κρόν a little, πρῶτον at first, τήμερον to-day, πολλά often.

And then things get crazy. Three other case forms are preserved as adverbs:

Locative: οἴκο-ι at home (οἶκο-ς house), Ἰσθμο-ῖ at the Isthmus, ποῖ whither, and all adverbs in -οι. The -ι of the consonantal declension is properly the ending of the locative, as in Μαραθῶν-ι at Marathon; -οισι (234) in O stems, in contrast to -οις; -α_σι (-ησι) in Ā stems (215): θύρα_σι at the doors, Πλαταιᾶσι at Plataea, Ἀθήνησι at Athens; further in πάλαι long ago, ἐκεῖ there, πανδημεί in full force.

Instrumental: ἄνω above, κάτω below, οὔπω not yet, ὧ-δε thus (but the forms in -ω may be ablatives); κρυφῆ and λάθρα_ in secret.

Ablative: all adverbs in -ως, as ὡς as, οὕτως thus, ἑτέρως otherwise. Here, e.g. original ἑτερωδ (cp. Old Lat. altoōd, abl. of altus) became ἑτερω (133), which took on -ς from the analogy of such words as ἀμφίς parallel to ἀμφί.

Bam. Eight cases.

Not only does Smyth’s schema provide a very good explanation of why Greek adverbs have such wildly varying forms (for which I’m incredibly grateful, and wish I’d have found out before now), it also provides a strong argument that Greek originally had eight cases, three of which were lost: the locative and instrumental being absorbed into the dative, and the ablative being expressed by the genitive or dative with prepositions.

Now, I don’t think I’m ready to go all the way and say that ancient Greek had eight viable cases; that is, I think I’d still explain a Greek locative or instrumental as a locatival dative or instrumental dative. However, I’m not willing anymore to say that eight-casers are deluded, led astray by the seduction of Latin grammar.

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Dead Sea Scrolls Online

The Israel Antiquities Authority has a new website, the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, produced in partnership with Google. It has high-resolution photos of almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls, mostly in black-and-white, but some in color. It is notably lacking some of the major scrolls, though — 1QIsa(a) and 1QpHab are missing entirely; 1QS and 1QM only have fragments, though 11QSefer haMilhamah is included; and there are extensive fragments of 11QT. (I suspect it’s a copyright issue; the Israel Museum’s Digital Dead Sea Scrolls, also a Google collaboration, has high resolution, color photography of 1QIsa(a), 1QpHab, 1QS, 1QM, and 11QT.)

Anyhow, even though it lacks some of the major scrolls, it’s still a fantastic resource, because — to trot out clichés — it puts facsimiles of the scrolls in the hands of anyone with an internet connection; no airfare to Jerusalem or access to a university library required.

More information here.

(HT: reddit)

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