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Re: orion dss hebrew -- & gonorrhea -- & cedar oil
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With respect to John Hays´ interesting post--
thanks for some thought-provoking musings. The language issue is about as
hotly debated as any issue going at present. The traditional understanding
of the linguistic picture is of a Hebrew that was dominant before the
Exile, and which became squeezed into limited use by the Persian insistence
on Aramaic, followed by the pressures of Greek in the wake of Alexander´s
conquests. The reality of the situation is that we are far, far from
possessing enough data to make reliable statements on matter. Those who
work with the old conception simply make a hole in their theory and insert
the DSS in it: oh, an aberration, 800 or so Hebrew texts, but Aramaic was,
of course the dominant in those days.
One notes, though, that we lack any huge body of Aramaic language
literature in Syria-Palestine from this period to document the theoretical
Aramaic dominance. So the instances of parallel phenomena between Qumran
Hebrew and Aramaic are interesting. Nevertheless, all claims of Aramaic
"influence" invariably fail to make clear what they take "influence" to be.
If quoting a foreign lexicon is "influence", for example, then all
non-English western European languages are examples of heavy English
"influence". If you require morphological, grammatical, or syntactical
evidence, then "influence" becomes much harder to document. I know of no
DSS Hebrew-language texts that use the post-positive article, none that
contain examples of nouns in the "status emphaticus", nor even any in which
the standard lexical indicators of Aramaic (e.g., bar for "son") appear,
and the simplified tense structure of DSS Hebrew could, as you say, as
easily reflect spoken practice as "Aramaic influence".
A point I have made previously is that language go through a number of
phases when threatened by other, competing languages, on their way to what
Nancy C. Dorian has defined as "language death"; and there is no evidence
for any of these in connexion with any form of Hebrew known to me.
I have no opinion on early venereal diseases, but we do have specialists on
ritual purity in the woodwork.
Finally, your question on the cedar oil is fascinating, and I wish we knew
how common the practice was. Oils extracted from a recently-felled tree
would contain carbon from all the phases of the tree´s existence. This
would not be a matter of centuries, given the frequent harvesting of cedar
in the Levant, but it would certainly skew test results horrifically. I
shall have to have a look at Ginell´s spectroscopic profiles of the
documents to see if there are any indications.
thanks for your input,