The Verbal System of the Dead Sea Scrolls Ken M. Penner determines whether Qumran Hebrew finite verbs are primarily temporal, aspectual, or modal.
Standard grammars claim Hebrew was aspect-prominent in the Bible, and tense-prominent in the Mishnah. But the semantic value of the verb forms in the intervening period in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were written has remained controversial.
Penner answers the question of Qumran Hebrew verb form semantics using an empirical method: a database calculating the correlation between each form and each function, establishing that the ancient author’s selection of verb form is determined not by aspect, but by tense or modality. Penner then applies these findings to controversial interpretations of three Qumran texts.
John Emerton was Regius Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge University from 1968 to 1995 and is a former Editor of
Vetus Testamentum and its Supplements (1975-97). His work is characterised by profound learning and rigorous argument. He published detailed articles on a wide range of subjects, not only on the Hebrew language but also on Biblical texts, Semitic philology and epigraphy, Pentateuchal criticism and other central issues in Biblical scholarship, and biographical essays on some modern scholars. The forty-eight essays in this volume have been selected to provide both an overview of Emerton’s influential work in all these fields and easier access to some items which are no longer readily available.