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Re: orion Harrison on: Spoken DSS Hebrew.

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fred cryer wrote:

> Actually, I pointed out in a note in my Divination a few years ago,
> that
> *most* of the world's societies are bi- or multilingual. In fact, it
> has
> only been the rise of the European nation-state, with territorial
> boundaries that (largely) correspond to ethnic and linguistic
> boundaries,
> that has created the notion that this is the way it *should* be (it
> was a
> feature of the Romantic devotion to the vernacular language and the
> "Folksseele" that was thought to reside in it. It even formed the
> basis for
> Hitlerīs claim that there had to be Lebensraum, including "defensible
> boundaries", for all the German-speakers of "pure" "Aryan" descent).
> Fortunately, there are the mixed populations of Belgium and
> Switzerland
> even in Europe to temper the europocentric view, and even the Great
> Melting
> Pot is now pretty much a bilingual society.
> There is no great trick to multilingual skills--just routine
> interfacing
> with other ethnic/linguistic groups and the vagaries of trade,
> politics,
> warfare, marital policy and so forth will produce at least *some*
> speakers
> of each otherīs language.
> The point I have repeatedly been trying to make in connexion with
> Aramaic
> is that there is no question but that we can detect a rise in its
> sphere of
> influence in the Levant in the course of the 1st millennium bce. That
> it
> coexisted side by side with Hebrew is evident from the OT. But the OT
> persists in regarding Aramaic as a *foreign* or *extraneous*
> phenomenon.
> Linguistically, this is quite different from the rabbis of the middle
> ages,
> who shifted from Hebrew text to Aramaic text without being aware that
> they
> were actually changing languages.

    As you know, I am on record, repeatedly, for Aramaic as the
languageused primarily by Jesus but as a result of the discussions on
this subject
with you, Antonio, and others I am beginning to shift my paradigm away
from Aramaic as a "dominant" language throughout Syro-Palestinian
society (Don't tell Antonio I am beginning to agree <g>).  After all,
kind of progress can any of us make in our scholarly "development"
if we hold on to "sacred cows" to the exclusion of reasonable challenge?

    Instead, I am beginning to view Syro-Palestinian society *in the
aggregate* as trilingual but that few *individuals,* outside of the
percentage that were well educated, as trilingual.  How would the
following linguistic "barriers" stand up to the overall epigraphic

1.  Agrarian and rural "peasant" class = primarily Aramaic.

2.  Decapolitan residents, business and merchant class= Greek, Aramaic.

3.  Temple administrators= Greek and Hebrew.

4.  Religious sectarians= Hebrew, Aramaic.

5. Roman administrators= Latin, Greek.

    This still begs my question  concerning the Aramaic texts and
few Targumim of the DSS People.  What were their purpose?
Were they for the benefit of "peasant class" initiates into the
community while they were being tutored in DSS Hebrew?

    The "warning sign" at the temple, now in the Palestine
Archaeological Museum (Clairmont-Ganneau, Pal. Expl. Q
1871; Vincent, Rev. Biblique 1921; Iliffe, QDAP 6, 1938)
is in Greek but its audience were gentile visitors to the

    If the titulus of the gospel accounts is historical, and I have
no reason to doubt it, it suggests that the literate segment of the
audience was not trilingual but would read at least one of the
3 languages represented.  Is there epigraphic examples of other
"polyglot" notices...perhaps on funerary inscriptions?

> And Mr Harrisonīs remarks on the presence of Greek tell us nothing
> about
> the extent of actual Greek usage in Syro-Palestinian society in the
> period
> in question. What one would need to document the rise of Greek in 1st
> century bce Palestine would be troves of letters and business records,
> as
> well as graffitti and ostraca in larger numbers, or at least in
> sufficient
> numbers as to suggest a competitive situation with the use of Hebrew.
> People seem not to get the point that reference in literary sources of
> uncertain date and provenance just cannot take the place of actual
> linguistic evidence.

    How about the funerary inscriptions?  Hengel claims a third in
Greekbut I can't help but note that Caiaphas' name on his ossuary was in


> Furthermore, as I keep mentioning, languages donīt just die out, and
> there
> *is* an entire branch of modern linguistics that studies "language
> death"
> phenomena. And I know of no evidence that has ever been advanced by
> any
> scholar to show that such language death phenomena can be demonstrated
> in
> connexion with the use of Hebrew. So not only do we have abundant
> *documentary* evidence for the use of Hebrew in the form of the DSS,
> we
> have *no* , repeat *no* documentary evidence for its decline.

    Nor for Aramaic of the period.  Does this not suggest that these
continuedto be living languages within certain class boundaries?


D’man dith laych idneh d’nishMA nishMA
   Jack Kilmon (jpman@accesscomm.net)