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Re: [Synoptic-L] The Aramaic-Greek transition (resent with signature)

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  • R. Steven Notley
    DaGoi@aol.com wrote:What are the evident dividing lines between the aramaic use and the hebrew ... I know of no evidence of monolingual pockets in first
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 14, 2003
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      DaGoi@... wrote:What are the evident dividing lines between the aramaic use
      and the hebrew

      > use in the first century? I had thought also that the Qumran use of hebrew
      > may be due to a back-to-basics counterculture one-ups-manship, or perhaps to
      > the survival in literary use (but I've read in this thread that it was
      > evidently a living growing language). Is there any indication of who was
      > more prone to use Hebrew as opposed to Aramaic or Greek (and what of that -
      > all koine, or do the more formal instances stretch into attic?) and when?
      >
      > Bill Foley
      > Woburn

      I know of no evidence of monolingual "pockets" in first century Judaea.
      Certainly, the most widespread sector of society represented by proto-Pharisaism
      (and its successors) which most closely parallels the ethos and approach to
      scripture in the Jesus movement evidences familiarity and use of Hebrew
      (colloquial and literary), Aramaic and Greek. The same can be said at Qumran.

      I am not trying to posit Jesus in any one stream of Jewish piety. Only to say
      that multilingualism cut across these sectarian/societal divides.

      The onus is on those who would seek to "exclude" any of these from first century
      use in Judaea. The evidence for this exclusion simply is not there.

      I am certainly not suggesting that Jesus did not know and use Aramaic (sorry for
      the double negative). I am only questioning why we need to take an Aramaic ONLY
      approach to the linguistic questions of the Gospels. Almost all of the Semitisms
      in the NT touted at proof of Aramaic use by Jesus represent as easily Hebraisms.
      The only reason they are not represented as such are the a priori assumptions
      (now clearly unfounded) of NT scholarship for 150 years concerning the linguistic
      milieu of first century Judaea.

      [Sorry, forgot to sign on the previous message.]

      regards,
      R. Steven Notley
      Nyack College NYC



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    • Emmanuel Fritsch
      ... - Lazare is aramaic (vs Eleazar which is hebrew) and the case in common with names in NT. (Is greek form of Jesus closer to aramaic or hebrew ?) -
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 14, 2003
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        > I am certainly not suggesting that Jesus did not know and use Aramaic (sorry for
        > the double negative). I am only questioning why we need to take an Aramaic ONLY
        > approach to the linguistic questions of the Gospels. Almost all of the Semitisms
        > in the NT touted at proof of Aramaic use by Jesus represent as easily Hebraisms.
        > The only reason they are not represented as such are the a priori assumptions
        > (now clearly unfounded) of NT scholarship for 150 years concerning the linguistic
        > milieu of first century Judaea.

        - "Lazare" is aramaic (vs "Eleazar" which is hebrew) and the case
        in common with names in NT. (Is greek form of "Jesus" closer to
        aramaic or hebrew ?)
        - without matching exactly geography, aramaic is supposed to be
        more common in Galileae, and hebrew in Judeae.

        Sorry for not giving references and precisions. These are old
        remembers. But if right, they show that aramaic priority is
        not so unfounded as you say. Who helps ?

        a+
        manu

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      • R. Steven Notley
        Jack I have to catch a train into the city to teach. So, I won t have any more time for this ongoing discussion which I am sure would remain unresolved
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 14, 2003
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          Jack

          I have to catch a train into the city to teach. So, I won't have any more time for this
          ongoing discussion which I am sure would remain unresolved anyway. However, you can
          imagine one's frustration to point out examples of Hebrew (literary and colloquial) in
          use in various and diverse religious/social environments, only to hear the response that
          those "exceptional" examples of usage prove the rule (i.e. only exclusive knowledge of
          Hebrew). With that line of logic, all evidence can be used to be counter-evidentiary.

          You state, "the scrolls do show us that *some groups* in Palestine were conversant in
          Hebrew. They do not show us, however, that most people in Palestine were conversant in
          Hebrew."

          My question remains the same and has yet to be answered. What firm data is there to
          indicate that Hebrew was unknown by "most people in Palestine?"

          best regards,
          R. Steven Notley
          Nyack College NYC

          "John C. Poirier" wrote:

          > Steven,
          >
          > I’m with Jeffrey Gibson on this one. The writings of Qumran are inadmissible as
          > evidence for the principal spoken language of first-century Palestine, just as the
          > writings of the Vatican are inadmissible as evidence for the principal spoken
          > language of twentieth-century Italy.
          >
          > There certainly is a sense in which the use of Hebrew at Qumran was
          > “countercultural.” (Cf. Schniedewind’s description of Qumran Hebrew as an
          > “antilanguage.”) The Qumranic use of Hebrew was ideologically driven, and as such,
          > counts more strongly as evidence *against* the widespread use of Hebrew than as
          > evidence *in favor* of it. Granted that Qumran writings appear with different
          > registers--most are closer to Biblical Hebrew but a few (4QMMT, the Copper Scroll)
          > are closer to Mishnaic Hebrew--the scrolls do show us that *some groups* in Palestine
          > were conversant in Hebrew. They do not show us, however, that most people in
          > Palestine were conversant in Hebrew.
          >
          > I’m not sure what is served by your mentioning Geiger’s position. None of those
          > arguing against the widespread use of Hebrew fall into the Geiger camp: Fitzmyer,
          > Barr, Vermes, Schwartz, Hezser, etc., all recognize that Hebrew was a spoken language
          > *somewhere* in the first century. They simply insist that *somewhere* doesn’t mean
          > *everywhere*, and that the epigraphic and rabbinic evidence only supports the view
          > that Hebrew was spoken in certain religious connections. Those who argue in favor of
          > a widespread use of Hebrew always point to Qumran and to the Bar Kochba letters, but
          > these are the places where we would *expect* to find exceptions to the rule that
          > Aramaic was the principal spoken language.
          >
          > In other words, evidence that Hebrew was spoken by *some* in Palestine does not
          > constitute evidence that the *majority* spoke Hebrew. There are different types of
          > multilingual situations: there is a sort of “distributive multilingualism,” in which
          > multiple languages are spoken in a community, but the average person did not speak
          > more than one, and there is a type of multilingualism that we find in Israel today,
          > where almost everyone speaks several languages. Unfortunately, many scholars writing
          > in support of a Hebrew vernacular fail to recognize the difference between these two
          > situations. Recently, Abraham Tal wrote a *horrendous* article confusing these
          > situations, and Fraade’s 1992 article makes the same mistake, although less
          > conspicuously, and in spite of giving the impression that he discusses the evidence
          > carefully.
          >
          > You write that you “know of no evidence of monolingual ‘pockets’ in first century
          > Judaea,” and construe evidence (rabbinic?) of proto-Pharisaic familiarity with Hebrew
          > as evidence for the linguistic situation of “the most widespread sector of society.”
          > But isn’t this like polling modern Rabbis on their knowledge of Hebrew, and
          > extrapolating that, since these Rabbis represent the most widespread sector of Jewish
          > society today, most Jews today are conversant in Hebrew? To my mind, the rank and
          > file of first-century Palestine constitutes a huge “monolingual pocket.” The
          > epigraphic evidence, I think, indicates that first-century Palestine conforms more to
          > the model of distributive multilingualism: everyone (or at least every Jew) would
          > have known Aramaic, many of them would also have known Greek, and a minority would
          > have known Hebrew.
          >
          > I also think that the James ossuary tells us clearly that the language of Jesus’
          > brother was Aramaic.
          >
          > John C. Poirier
          > Middletown, Ohio
          >
          > Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
          > List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...


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        • Dennis Sullivan
          ... From: John C. Poirier To: ; Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 11:11 AM Subject: Re:
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 14, 2003
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "John C. Poirier" <poirier@...>
            To: <notley@...>; <Synoptic-L@...>
            Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 11:11 AM
            Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] The Aramaic-Greek transition (resent with
            signature)



            I also think that the James ossuary tells us clearly that the language of
            Jesus'
            brother was Aramaic.

            John C. Poirier
            Middletown, Ohio
            ++++++++++++++++++
            Greetings, Jack!

            More precisely, the ossuary proves that the family's stonecutter spoke
            Aramaic--unless Ya'akov had the foresight to engrave his own ossuary
            inscription before his death. The ossuary may have been prepared as long as
            a year after his demise.

            I originally mentioned this in jest at our luncheon with David Bivin last
            November, but the logic works.

            Dennis Sullivan
            Dayton Ohio



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          • John C. Poirier
            Steven, I’m with Jeffrey Gibson on this one. The writings of Qumran are inadmissible as evidence for the principal spoken language of first-century
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 14, 2003
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              Steven,

              I’m with Jeffrey Gibson on this one. The writings of Qumran are inadmissible as
              evidence for the principal spoken language of first-century Palestine, just as the
              writings of the Vatican are inadmissible as evidence for the principal spoken
              language of twentieth-century Italy.

              There certainly is a sense in which the use of Hebrew at Qumran was
              “countercultural.” (Cf. Schniedewind’s description of Qumran Hebrew as an
              “antilanguage.”) The Qumranic use of Hebrew was ideologically driven, and as such,
              counts more strongly as evidence *against* the widespread use of Hebrew than as
              evidence *in favor* of it. Granted that Qumran writings appear with different
              registers--most are closer to Biblical Hebrew but a few (4QMMT, the Copper Scroll)
              are closer to Mishnaic Hebrew--the scrolls do show us that *some groups* in Palestine
              were conversant in Hebrew. They do not show us, however, that most people in
              Palestine were conversant in Hebrew.

              I’m not sure what is served by your mentioning Geiger’s position. None of those
              arguing against the widespread use of Hebrew fall into the Geiger camp: Fitzmyer,
              Barr, Vermes, Schwartz, Hezser, etc., all recognize that Hebrew was a spoken language
              *somewhere* in the first century. They simply insist that *somewhere* doesn’t mean
              *everywhere*, and that the epigraphic and rabbinic evidence only supports the view
              that Hebrew was spoken in certain religious connections. Those who argue in favor of
              a widespread use of Hebrew always point to Qumran and to the Bar Kochba letters, but
              these are the places where we would *expect* to find exceptions to the rule that
              Aramaic was the principal spoken language.

              In other words, evidence that Hebrew was spoken by *some* in Palestine does not
              constitute evidence that the *majority* spoke Hebrew. There are different types of
              multilingual situations: there is a sort of “distributive multilingualism,” in which
              multiple languages are spoken in a community, but the average person did not speak
              more than one, and there is a type of multilingualism that we find in Israel today,
              where almost everyone speaks several languages. Unfortunately, many scholars writing
              in support of a Hebrew vernacular fail to recognize the difference between these two
              situations. Recently, Abraham Tal wrote a *horrendous* article confusing these
              situations, and Fraade’s 1992 article makes the same mistake, although less
              conspicuously, and in spite of giving the impression that he discusses the evidence
              carefully.

              You write that you “know of no evidence of monolingual ‘pockets’ in first century
              Judaea,” and construe evidence (rabbinic?) of proto-Pharisaic familiarity with Hebrew
              as evidence for the linguistic situation of “the most widespread sector of society.”
              But isn’t this like polling modern Rabbis on their knowledge of Hebrew, and
              extrapolating that, since these Rabbis represent the most widespread sector of Jewish
              society today, most Jews today are conversant in Hebrew? To my mind, the rank and
              file of first-century Palestine constitutes a huge “monolingual pocket.” The
              epigraphic evidence, I think, indicates that first-century Palestine conforms more to
              the model of distributive multilingualism: everyone (or at least every Jew) would
              have known Aramaic, many of them would also have known Greek, and a minority would
              have known Hebrew.

              I also think that the James ossuary tells us clearly that the language of Jesus’
              brother was Aramaic.


              John C. Poirier
              Middletown, Ohio




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            • John C. Poirier
              Thanks for this, Dennis. Good to hear from you. (I m ready to go back to that Mexican restaurant.) It seems to me that the language of the James ossuary
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 14, 2003
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                Thanks for this, Dennis. Good to hear from you. (I'm ready to go back to that
                Mexican restaurant.)

                It seems to me that the language of the James ossuary would have been dictated
                by James' followers, or possibly his family. Certainly, the decision to have
                any inscription at all was probably not in the hands of the stonecutter (about
                70% of the ossuaries in Rahmani don't have any inscription at all), so
                presumably the decision as to what language to use would have been made by
                whoever decided to have an inscription. But even if it was the stonecutter who
                decided to use Aramaic, that still counts *in some way* as linguistic evidence
                for the first century. (Unless, of course, the last half of the inscription
                [which was written by a different writing instrument] was added a century or so
                later, and if we allow that *bar* could be colloquial Hebrew, in which case we
                would only have evidence for Aramaic in the second century.) Like everything
                else in history, it all boils down to probability.

                Unfortunately, it appears that a lot that should have been said about this
                ossuary was left out of the *BAR* article.


                John C. Poirier
                Middletown, Ohio


                Dennis Sullivan wrote:

                > More precisely, the ossuary proves that the family's stonecutter spoke
                > Aramaic--unless Ya'akov had the foresight to engrave his own ossuary
                > inscription before his death. The ossuary may have been prepared as long as
                > a year after his demise.
                >
                > I originally mentioned this in jest at our luncheon with David Bivin last
                > November, but the logic works.
                >
                > Dennis Sullivan
                > Dayton Ohio


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