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Re: orion dss hebrew

Professor Cryer,

Thank you for responding regarding Aramaic and Hebrew. Though you said
it was a hotly debated topic, it doesn't seem to be, here on the list. I
may be able to understand your reservations on the significance of
Aramaic in post-exilic times, but I don't know if it was that relevant
to my basic perplexity over what looked like Aramaic influences in DSS
Hebrew. If we have a language, let's call it Late Biblical Hebrew -- I
guess it is embodied in Qohelet, Songs of Solomon, and the Masada Ben
Sira (I personally can't say) --, which shows similarities to both DSS
Hebrew and the later Mishnaic Hebrew, and DSS Hebrew reflects certain
changes that look somewhat Mishnaic, we might postulate that both
Mishnaic Hebrew and DSS Hebrew are developments from Late Biblical
Hebrew. Is it wrong to assume that DSS Hebrew is somewhere along a road
from LBH?

Yet according to Qimron there are quite a number of similarities between
DSS Hebrew and the approximate Aramaic of the time that are not to be
found in Mishnaic Hebrew (or at least that's how I read his book). We
get something like this:

                     Late Biblical Hebrew
                            /  \
                           /    \           strong
                          /      \ <-- Aramaic influence
                         /       /\       /
                        /       /  \     /
                 MMT Hebrew    /  DSS Hebrew
                      /       /    
                     /   Bar-Kochbah
                    /      Letters
             Mishnaic Hebrew

Of course a simplification, but all I am trying to do is place DSS
Hebrew into a historical context. I would be keen on other

On the difficulty of what the Aramaic influence may have been, Qimron
argues for influence in the imperative (p53, 311.14 Imperative Qal), the
Aramaic -why suffix (p61), some verbal noun formation (p65ff), along
with some syntactic items (including an object preceding an infinitive).
(I am only skimming Qimron here.) This does suggest there was some
influence from Aramaic in various linguistic areas. Yet, how far along
would one need to go towards your theorized language death to have, as
you mention, usage of the post-positive article, or of nouns in the
"status emphaticus"? And why, if one works on needs based changes, would
one exchange central lexical items for foreign ones? I have only seen
modern examples based on status, though I could imagine similar
motivation in the first century, though with a much lower impact due to
diversity of social status and lack of mass communication.

As I can't imagine that I would have anything more useful to say on the
topic -- my only desire was to throw a little would on the fire -- I'll
happily leave the debate, what little there is of it, to my betters.


John J. Hays
I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto.