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Re: orion Spoken DSS Hebrew

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Paul Sodtke wrote:

> At 23:05 97/11/20 +0100, John Hays noted (as part of a much longer
> post):
> >Fred Cryer has basically challenged believers of the "Aramaic as
> >language of the populace" to provide some serious indication why
> other
> >people should believe them.
> I was also taught that Aramaic was the common language of the time,
> and I'm
> still finding it hard to be objective about this - probably something
> to do
> with my bias as a Christian because of the hints in the NT. But I have
> to
> agree with Prof. Hays that, at this point, we should still refrain
> from
> drawing conclusions.

    Obviously, from my record in various "Aramaic vs. Hebrew" debates,
Ibelieve that Aramaic was the "street language" of the time.  I base
this belief
not on a bias but on the evidence which I find compelling.

> So, what *can* we say? I toss the following out for critique by the
> list:
> 1. The very existence of Aramaic targums strongly suggests that there
> were
> at least *some* people in Judea who understood Aramaic but not Hebrew.
> (For
> parts of the diaspora, one could make the same argument about the LXX
> and
> Greek). I cannot think of any way to demonstrate if the converse were
> true
> - i.e., whether there were any who understood Hebrew but not Aramaic.

    The purpose of a Targum is to interpret Hebrew scripture in the
languageof the "man on the street."  Aramaic targums are the strongest
evidence that
Aramaic was the language of the general populace.  11Q10, 4Q157 and the
of the Aramaic texts of the DSS people not only tell me clearly that the
people knew this but they also had some type of liturgical practice that

necessitated discourse on the scriptures to ordinary folk.  This seems
conflict with the image of the DSS people as sequestered.

> 2. The widespread use of Aramaic in the scrolls (together with hints
> in the
> NT, etc.) suggests (but does not prove) that Aramaic was the *most*
> widely
> used language (which does not say *exclusively* used in any context).

    I would agree with this.  The NT authors place Aramaic in the mouth
ofJesus some two dozen times, as does a Mishnaic reference.  I think the

author of Luke makes it clear that the original written or oral source
for the
"Lord's Prayer" was in Aramaic by his rendering of the <Aram>xwbyn
idiom in the first half with <Grk>AMARTIAJ which is the meaning of
the Aramaic idiom, and in the second half with <Grk> OFEILONTI (part.)
in the second half....a rendering which the Greek Speaking Matthean
scribe used.  This indicates to me that the Lukan author was competent
with his Aramaic source material and the Matthean scribe was
using Greek translations.

> 3. On the other hand, the evidence presented by Prof. Hays (and
> previous
> posts in this thread) make it highly likely that Hebrew remained a
> spoken
> language through to at least the Bar Cochba period.

    There was a rendency to underplay the role of Hebrew as a living,
spokenlanguage among certain groups and an "Aramaic supremecy" paradigm
I reject.  Hebrew as a "high language" among the educated devout, among
the DSS people, and an attempt to make it a "high language" by militant
nationalists, like the bar Kochba folk is reasonable.  Bar Kochba wrote
letters in Hebrew but, as evidenced by his predominately Aramaic letters

from the "Cave of Letters," Aramaic was still the "street language."

> 4. There is no warrant to assume that bi- or multi-lingualism was
> restricted to "scholars". Until recently I lived in Toronto, where I
> often
> met people for whom English was their fourth or fifth language. True,
> many
> of them were immigrants to Canada; but many Africans, for example, had
> grown up speaking two or three tribal languages plus the colonial
> language,
> so they had been multilingual from childhood. These were intelligent
> people, but not necessarily academics.

    I think the same multi-cultural "crosswinds" of 1st century
Palestinemake this an appropriate analogy.


Díman dith laych idneh dínishMA nishMA
   Jack Kilmon (jpman@accesscomm.net)