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Re: crosspost from Ioudaios

On Sun, 21 Jan 1996 STONE@vms.huji.ac.il wrote:

> Re David Suter's response.
> Do I understand correctly:
> a. You are maintaining the continued use of Hebrew throughout the period.
> b. You are asking why the Enochic literature uses Aramaic.
> c. You are also asking why the Qumran community, which has taken over
> pre-Qumran Aramaic Enoch, does not continue to compose in Aramaic.

Well, yes, but my emphasis is not upon the Qumran use of Hebrew but the 
Enochic use of Aramaic.  The discussion has led me to suspect that the 
choice of language is of greater significance than I had previously 
assumed.  Before it was a given, now I am thinking of it as a potential 
clue to the social context of the writing.  

> If this understanding is corret, allow me to add some further data.
> I just read an article by Devorah Dimant giving percentages of Hebrew
> and Aramaic in the Qumran finds. It is not at hand at present (it was
> in the Jacob Millgrom FS). Might I point out that the issues does not
> only touch on Enoch?
> a. GenApoc and Levi aram and New Jerusalem, to mention a few, are in
> Aramaic.
> b. So are the narratives of Daniel 2-6 and the vision of Daniel 7.
> c. So is Tobit.
> 1Q19, a birth of Noah text analogous with 1 Enoch 106-107 is in Hebrew.
> So is Jubilees.

I was aware that there were other items in Aramaic and will look for 
Dimant's article.  It occured to me to check opinion amongst scholars 
concerning the original languages of the various apocrypha and 
pseudepigrapha to see if any patterns emerged there.

> Is the question one of:
> a. Date.
> b. Milieu
> c. Genre

Date is a variable that needs to be taken into account, but my interest 
is in milieu or social context and genre.  Is language a clue to social 
context (your work on the more speculative wisdom present in the Enochic 
literature perhaps could be factored in here also).  Or is language 
associated with genre (note that the division in Daniel is to a certain 
extent along the lines of genre, although there is one narrative in 
Hebrew and one vision in Aramaic).  Genre and social context (Sitz im 
Leben, as the form critics put it) are related factors, of course.  

> or some mixture of the three.
> I do not have the figures here either, but the percentages of Hebrew,
> Greek and Aramaic on sacrophagi in the 2-1 centuries BCE are probably
> relevant.
> Michael Stone

Thanks for responding.  Whether anything conclusive can be said about the 
choice of language during this period is difficult to say, but as long as 
I'm thinking of the Book of the Watchers as a social critique of the 
priesthood, it does seem relevant to ask why what is otherwise a rather 
conservative document is one of several pieces from the period to 
innovate in the use of Aramaic rather than Hebrew for the composition of 
sacred literature.


David Suter
Saint Martin's College