[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

orion more Peterson on: Spoken DSS Hebrew.

I wonder where Sigrid Peterson got that I "had indicated that a
multilingual environment for the DSS in the two centuries bce would have
to have been miraculously established"? My complaint was, and it is
still my complaint, where do people get the idea that the Jews were bi-
or even tri-lingual? If more than one percent of the population during
the period of 270 - 170 BCE were speakers of Greek, I would be rather
surprised. However, it would be inconceivable that there were no Greek
speakers. But timescale is important. Jerusalem came under the aegis of
Ptolemy Soter at the end of the fourth century; he was at that stage
only developing and consolidating his power base. It was not until some
time during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus that a Greek burocratic
apparatus was set up and perhaps was in full swing in 260 BCE; there
were several disruptive wars between then and the time when Jerusalem
came under the power of Antioch; though Jerusalem itself, being up in
the hills, was relatively unaffected by these wars, the burocratic
control of the zone would surely have been badly undermined. At the time
of Apollonius he had five agents in Marisa. This is not a massive
presence of Egyptian Greeks in an administrative centre, is it? The
exposure that the Jerusalemites had to Greek in that hundred years was
obviously minimal. The Hurrians maintained their language while
controlled by Hittite overlords for hundreds of years. The Anglo-Saxons
did the same. Lester Grabbe in a large work on Judaism commented that if
merchants knew a second language it would more likely have been Aramaic
than Greek.

It is in that sort of context that we arrive at the Hellenistic crisis
and its aftermath. Now to drop a few names without analysing the
implications of the documents won't get us very far at all. I don't
think that the Zenon Papyri for example establish almost anything
regarding the level of Greek spoken in and around Jerusalem. If one
wants to disagree one needs to supply something that shows the analysis
above to be wrong.

Sigrid Peterson later says: "I do not know whether a multilingual world
existed in Syria-Palestine of 200 - 1 bce." Could we not leave it at
this? To go on to give (modern) analogies, one has to show the full
appropriateness of the analogy or else we end up with a metaphysical


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