[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

crosspost from Ioudaios

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 04:53:56 EST
From: Frederick Cryer <FC@teol.ku.dk>
To: Multiple recipients of list <ioudaios-l@lehigh.edu>
Subject: languages of Palestine

Well...I keep trying to point this out, but:
it's only a dictum that we scholars have inherited that insists that 
Hebrew had died out or was dying out in the "post-exilic" period (a 
period that, in a linguistic sense, has no meaning: the removal of 
2,000-3,000 Judaeans from Jerusalem will not stop the citizens of 
Moresheth from speaking their ancestral language; only quite specific 
forms of social pressure can do that). We have, literally, NO 
EVIDENCE to that effect. Nor do we actually possess huge mounds of 
cast-off Greek administrative papyri to attest to the popularity that 
is claimed for Greek; we have only some traditions in Josephus about 
the inroads made by "Hellenism" in Palestine. With all respect, such 
traditions are not linguistic facts and cannot be evaluated as such. 
We can make some guesses as to the growth of significance and use of 
Aramaic in Syria-Palestine, much of it based on the later success of 
Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, Palmyrene, and Syriac, but...we do not 
have reams and reams of daily correspondence in Aramaic, 
administrative bumpf and the like, which would enable us with 
confidence to locate it socially. We DO, however, have huge amounts 
of both literary and non-literary compositions in Qumran Hebrew, 
Copper Scroll Hebrew, and now, 4QMMT, where the latter two point in 
the direction of later Middle Hebrew. So: Hebrew is the only well-
attested obviously *linguistic* evidence we possess.
Fred Cryer