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Re: orion Spoken DSS Hebrew

At 11:24 AM 11/21/97 -0500, you wrote:

>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.

Yes- but these targums are quite late into the CE. and are certainly not
contemporaneous with either the NT or the DSS.

>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).

One could argue that Greek was widespread using the same criteria; but with
no final conclusions possible.

>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.

This, too, is not really provable.

>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.

This is certainly the case.

>Conclusions? Still nothing certain, I must admit. Anyone want to offer a
>correction or further observation?
>While I'm responding to Prof. Hay's post, let me ask another question. His
>diagram suggests that the language of MMT and Mishnaic Hebrew are
>descendents of Late Biblical Hebrew. I have *no* expertise in this area,
>but I have been told by those who do that Mishnaic Hebrew is not a direct
>descendent of Biblical Hebrew, but from a related dialect. Is there general
>agreement about this? Would this make a difference to Prof. Hay's
>suggestions about the relationship between MMT and the rest of the scrolls?

There isn't general agreement about much of anything!!!

>Paul Sodtke
>London, Ontario


Jim West
Adjunct Professor of Bible
Quartz Hill School of Theology