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Dating Archaic Biblical Hebrew Poetry


A Critique of the Linguistic Arguments


The dating of some Archaic Biblical Hebrew poems to the late second millennium – early first millennium BCE on the basis of a handful of linguistic forms in common with second millennium Ugaritic and Amarna-Canaanite texts is brought into question. This critique highlights the problems with the arguments and hypotheses presented in the literature, and concludes that there is no compelling evidence to support the use of linguistic data for dating purposes.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61143-921-2
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Feb 4,2011
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 302
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-61143-921-2
$158.00
$110.60

For over sixty years, researchers including Albright, Cross, Freedman and Robertson have been pursuing a methodology for identifying a corpus of “Archaic Biblical Hebrew” poetry using a handful of linguistic forms in common with second millennium BCE Ugaritic and Amarna Canaanite. The dating of the poems under consideration has been an outcome of this research. On this basis, Exodus 15.1–18, “Moses’ Song of the Sea”, is frequently claimed to be the oldest poem, possibly dating to the second millennium BCE.

A critical analysis of the arguments and the underlying hypotheses used to support the use of linguistic data to date this particular corpus of biblical texts is overdue. The author proposes that linguistic data provides neither sufficient nor reliable evidence for dating purposes. The comparison of the second millennium sources with Archaic Biblical Hebrew poetic texts indicates that this Hebrew poetry is typologically more representative of first millennium sources. This does not imply that an individual poem cannot be of second millennium provenance. What it does show is that linguistic evidence is an inappropriate tool for dating these poems.

For over sixty years, researchers including Albright, Cross, Freedman and Robertson have been pursuing a methodology for identifying a corpus of “Archaic Biblical Hebrew” poetry using a handful of linguistic forms in common with second millennium BCE Ugaritic and Amarna Canaanite. The dating of the poems under consideration has been an outcome of this research. On this basis, Exodus 15.1–18, “Moses’ Song of the Sea”, is frequently claimed to be the oldest poem, possibly dating to the second millennium BCE.

A critical analysis of the arguments and the underlying hypotheses used to support the use of linguistic data to date this particular corpus of biblical texts is overdue. The author proposes that linguistic data provides neither sufficient nor reliable evidence for dating purposes. The comparison of the second millennium sources with Archaic Biblical Hebrew poetic texts indicates that this Hebrew poetry is typologically more representative of first millennium sources. This does not imply that an individual poem cannot be of second millennium provenance. What it does show is that linguistic evidence is an inappropriate tool for dating these poems.

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Contributor Biography

Robyn Vern

After a career in education, Robyn resumed full-time study at the University of Sydney. Following her interests, she engaged in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Studies, enriched by studies in related languages including Aramaic, Syriac, Ugaritic, Akkadian and Amarna Canaanite. Robyn lectures and tutors in Biblical Studies and continues her studies in Akkadian. She has presented papers at conferences overseas and in Sydney.

  • Dedication Page (page 5)
  • Table of Contents (page 7)
  • List of Tables (page 13)
  • Foreword (page 15)
  • Preface (page 17)
  • Abbreviations and Editorial Apparatus (page 19)
    • Abbreviations (page 19)
    • Editorial Apparatus (page 20)
    • Ugaritic - KTU2 (page 20)
    • Amarna Letters (page 20)
    • Conventional Symbols (page 20)
  • Part 1 Chapter 1 the Issue (page 21)
    • Ugaritic Languages and Amarna Canaanite (page 22)
    • Introduction to Part I (page 23)
    • Introduction to Part II (page 25)
    • The ABH Corpus (page 26)
    • Introduction to Part III (page 27)
  • Chapter 2 linguistic evidence and Dating of Texts (page 29)
    • Nature of the Evidence (page 29)
    • Problems Associated with Using Linguistic Evidence for Dating ABH Texts Early (page 35)
    • Influence of Robertson's Research (page 43)
  • Chapter 3 An 'Early' Poetic Corpus (page 49)
    • Linguistic Evidence and Chronological Stages (page 49)
    • Definition of 'Archaism' (page 51)
    • Methodological Problems with Robertson's Use of Linguistic Evidence for Dating This Corpus (page 54)
  • Chapter 4 Morphological Archaisms and an 'Early' Corpus (page 57)
  • Chapter 5 Syntactic Archaisms and an 'Early' Corpus (page 65)
  • Chapter 6 Textual Comparisons (page 77)
    • Conclusion (page 86)
  • Chapter 7 Textual Emendation and an 'Early' Corpus (page 87)
    • Robertson's Emendations (page 90)
    • Albright's 'Recovery' of the Text (page 93)
    • A Comparison of Robertson's and Albright's Emendations (page 96)
    • Autograph and 'Early' Corpus (page 96)
    • Conclusion (page 97)
  • Part II Chapter 8 The Evidence (page 99)
  • Chapter 9 The Ugaritic Case System (page 101)
    • Identification of Case Endings in the Consonantal Script (page 102)
    • The Construct State (page 104)
    • Discussion (page 107)
    • Conclusion (page 109)
  • Chapter 10 The Case System of the Amarna Letters (page 111)
    • Features of the West Semitic Case System used in the Amarna Letters (page 111)
    • Noun Declension (page 112)
    • The Construct State (page 116)
    • Status of the Case System in the Amarna Letters (page 118)
    • Conclusion (page 124)
  • Chapter 11 The Case System and Archaic Biblical Hebrew (page 125)
    • Hypotheses Concerning the Process of teh Loss of Case Endings (page 128)
    • Evidence for this Analysis (page 131)
    • Introduction (page 131)
    • The Termination -ah (page 133)
    • The Termination -û (page 133)
    • The Termination -î (page 134)
    • The Termination -ô (page 138)
    • Discussion (page 140)
    • Identification of Vocalic Endings in Hebrew Poetry (page 140)
    • Conclusion (page 142)
  • Excursus Purported Case Endings in Biblical Hebrew (page 143)
    • 1. The he Locale (page 143)
    • Mistaken Instances of the Accusative Suffix (page 143)
    • 2. The Termination -û (page 144)
    • Analysis of Its Purported Use as a Nominative Case Ending on Proper Nouns (page 144)
    • 3. The Termination -î (page 146)
    • Analysis of Its Purported Use as a Genitive Case Ending in Phrases and on Proper Nouns (page 146)
    • 4. Termination -ô (page 148)
    • Analysis of Its Purported Use as a Genitive Case Ending in Phrases (page 148)
  • Chapter 12 Ugaritic Evidence for teh 3mp Preformative t- of the Prefix Conjugation (page 151)
    • History of Unravelling the Evidence (page 151)
    • Ugaritic Substrate Evidence in the Akkadian from Ugrit (page 154)
    • The Evidence (page 154)
    • Selection of Transliterations and Translations (page 156)
    • Specific Issues Relating to Ugaritic Verse (page 156)
    • Reconstruction of the Text (page 157)
    • 1. Disputed Subject (page 158)
    • 2. Verbal Forms Read as 3ms Passive Constructions (page 170)
    • 3. I:weak verbal Forms (page 173)
    • 4. Purported Use of a Singular Verb with a Plural Subject (page 178)
    • 5. Textual Reconstruction and Emendation (page 180)
    • Summary of Findings (page 186)
    • Discussion (page 186)
    • Conclusion (page 187)
    • List of Verbal Forms in this Analysis (page 188)
  • Chapter 13 The Amarna Evidence for teh 3mp Preformative t- of teh Prefix Conjugation (page 189)
    • The Evidence (page 194)
    • 1. Disputed Subject (page 194)
    • 2. Two Apparent Persons for the Subject (page 201)
    • 3. Use of teh Singular Impersonal Subject (page 203)
    • 4. Use of teh Form of 'God' in the Plural with a Singular Verb (page 207)
    • 5. Textual Reconstruction (page 208)
    • 6. Singular Verb with a Plural Subject (page 214)
    • Summary of teh Data (page 217)
    • Conclusion (page 219)
    • List of Verbal Forms in this Analysis (page 220)
  • Chapter 14 Biblical Hebrew Evidence for the Purported Use of the 3mp Preformative t- of the Prefix Conjugation (page 223)
    • Evidence (page 225)
    • 1. Use of the Extended Context (page 225)
    • 2. Emended Biblical Text (page 229)
    • 3. Restoration of the Text (page 232)
    • Summary of Data (page 235)
    • Discussion (page 235)
    • Conclusion (page 237)
    • List of Verbal Forms in this Analysis (page 238)
  • Chapter 15 The 3fs Sufformative -at of teh suffix conjugation in Ugaritic, Amarna Canaanite and Archaic Biblical Hebrew (page 239)
    • The 3fs Sufformative of the Suffix Conjugation in Ugaritic (page 239)
    • The Evidence (page 239)
    • Conclusion (page 240)
    • The 3fs Sufformative of the Suffix Conjugation in Amarna Canaanite (page 240)
    • The Evidence (page 240)
    • Conclusion (page 242)
    • The 3fs Sufformative of the Suffix Conjugation in Archaic Biblical Hebrew (page 242)
    • Evidence for this Analysis (page 243)
    • Conclusion (page 247)
  • Chapter 16 Review and Discussion Archaic Linguistic Features: A Poetic Style, Not a Dating Tool (page 249)
    • Review and Discussion of Part I: Review of the Literature (page 250)
    • Review and Discussion of Part II: Research (page 254)
    • Case Endings (page 254)
    • The 3 mp Preformative -? of the Prefix Conjugation (page 255)
    • The 3fs Sufformative -at of the Suffix Conjugation (page 255)
    • Uses and Limitations of Limguistic Evidence from Archaic Biblical Hebrew (page 256)
    • Discontinuity of Evidence (page 257)
    • A Typological Approach (page 258)
    • Dialect Variation (page 259)
    • Linguistic Changes in Versions (page 259)
    • Conclusions (page 260)
    • Final Word (page 261)
  • Bibliography (page 263)
  • Index (page 293)
    • Index of Biblical References (page 293)
    • Index of Ugaritic Texts (page 297)
    • Index of Amarna Letters (page 298)
    • Index of Authors (page 300)
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