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Re: orion Harrison on: Spoken DSS Hebrew.

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fred cryer wrote:

> to Jack Kilmon--
> You´ve always had a blessed ability to reassess your thinking, Jack; I
> only
> hope the rest of us can do so as readily. I think, though, that it´s
> *still* incumbant on you to establish that Aramaic was even a
> *significant*
> presence in a linguistic sense-- meaning that you would have to be
> able to
> point to an adequate amount of documentary evidence, even if it were
> only
> codicils in Greek or Hebrew sales documents that the parties involved
> were
> Aramaic speakers, this is a rescript for the authorities, or whatever.
> The
> small fraction of Aramaic documents among the DSS just don´t have much
> weight, and your interpretation of the Aramaic translations (let´s not
> use
> the word "Targumim", as their relationship to the actual historical
> Targumim has not been demonstrated) presupposes a certain
> understanding of
> their nature. Moreover, the NT is a literary source, not documentary
> evidence of linguistic practices in 1st century Palestine.

Dr. Cryer:

    I think we are safe in concluding that Hebrew was, in the least, the

literary language of 1st century Palestine.  The ability to read and
was rare and confined to a small percentage of the educated elite.  This

class barrier imposes limitations on the testimony of the epigraphic
and inscriptional evidence written by the educated elite *for* the
elite.  I think we are also safe in concluding that Hebrew was the
most commonly *written* language of 1st century Palestine but this
again does not speak to the most commonly *spoken* language of what
was, in essence. a largely peasant class, functionally illiterate
population.  The epigraphic evidence, therefore, speaks to the most
commonly written language but cannot be interpreted to speak to
the most commonly spoken language without additional evidence or
a different methodology in interpreting the epigrapha.

    Josephus, one of those educated elite, makes it clear that his
language was one of the Semitic languages (Hebrew or Aramaic) as his
"native tongue."  The Greek-speaking Titus also uses old Flavius Joe
during the siege of Jerusalem to convince the defenders to give up the
ship..."in the language of their forefathers."  We still do not know by
this reference whether that was Hebrew or Aramaic but we do know
that it was *not* Greek.

    My next step, as I try to resolve this question for myself..and not
to convince either the "Hebrew dominant" or "Aramaic dominant"
correspondents....will be to spend some time reviewing the epigraphic
evidence as per *genre* (therefore attempting to apply some measure
of class distinction) rather than merely the percentage of language

    I also want to take some time to review the question of Aramaic
influence on Hebrew and the question of whether Mishnaic Hebrew
is an "Aramaicized" dialect (Scott vs. Freedman).

    I also want to review the significant rise of Aramaic inscriptions
in the Herodian period, particularly the significant amount of
Aramaic funerary and ossuary insciptions (a genre which I believe
best attests to common usage).

    It's going to take me quite a while, entrenched in the library at
Rice, to review the last hundred years of epigraphic reporting
and to attempt to apply a "class distinction" to them but when I
finish, I will be better prepared to come to a conclusion.

    By way of a prologue, however, I do not see 20% representation
of Aramaic in the DSS, where admittedly Hebrew is the dominant
literary language, as a "small amount" or as insignificant.  I find that

to be a *lot* of Aramaic given the genre of the texts.

    The next question I have for you and the scholars of the
list ...after all, I am but an "interested amateur" ..is the appearance,

or lack of it, of Aramaic loan words, or influence, in "DSS Hebrew"
or the 1st century texts like the Mishnaic-like "village dialect" of
the copper scroll.

    Regarding  11Q10, 4Q157, I am not ready to relinquish that
Aramaic translations of biblical texts in Mishnaic times as Targumim
is anachronistic to Aramaic translations of biblical texts in Qumran
times.  Jewish scholarship dates the practice of Aramaic targumim
well prior to the 1st century....sort of a "if it looks like a duck and
quacks like a duck" type of thing (g).


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