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Kurtis Peters

In Hebrew Lexical Semantics and Daily Life in Ancient Israel, Kurtis Peters hitches the world of Biblical Studies to that of modern linguistic research. Often the insights of linguistics do not appear in the study of Biblical Hebrew, and if they do, the theory remains esoteric.

Peters finds a way to maintain linguistic integrity and yet simplify cognitive linguistic methods to provide non-specialists an access point. By employing a cognitive approach one can coordinate the world of the biblical text with the world of its surroundings. The language of cooking affords such a possibility – Peters evaluates not only the words or lexemes related to cooking in the Hebrew Bible, but also the world of cooking as excavated by archaeology.

Petra Verwijs

In The Peshitta and Syro-Hexapla Translations of Amos 1:3-2:16, Petra Verwijs presents the result of a detailed study about the translation techniques used by two Syriac translations of the Biblical passage indicated. The Peshitta is the translation from a Hebrew original and the Syro-Hexapla from a Greek version. The book evaluates the unique characteristics of both through a detailed study of vocabulary and grammar. Previous scholarship has addressed issues of translation technique for the Peshitta of the Dodekapropheton, of which Amos 1:3-2:16 is a part. This is the first detailed study of any part of the Dodekapropheton of the Syro-Hexapla.

Revisiting Aspect and Aktionsart

A Corpus Approach to Koine Greek Event Typology

Series:

Francis G. H. Pang

In Revisiting Aspect and Aktionsart, Francis G.H. Pang employs a corpus approach to analyze the relationship between Greek aspect and Aktionsart. Recent works have tried to predict the meanings that emerge when a certain set of clausal factors and lexical features combine with one of the grammatical aspects. Most of these works rely heavily on Zeno Vendler's telicity distinction. Based on empirical evidence, Pang argues that telicity and perfectivity are not related in a systematic manner in Koine Greek. As a corollary, Aktionsart should be considered an interpretive category, meaning that its different values emerge, not from the interaction of only one or two linguistic parameters, but from the process of interpreting language in context.

Series:

Paul S. Stevenson

In Stanzaic Syntax in the Madrashe of Ephrem the Syrian, which focuses on madrāšê V and VI in the Paradise cycle, Paul S. Stevenson looks at Ephrem’s poetic art from the point of view of a linguist. This study goes beyond the traditional levels of analysis, the clause and the sentence, and examines the structure of whole stanzas as units. The result is a surprisingly rich tapestry of syntactic patterning, which can justly be considered the key to Ephrem’s prosody. The driving force behind Ephrem’s poetry turns out not to be meter or sound play, but a variety of syntactic templates, which include even vertical patterning of constituents.

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Edited by Aaron Butts

Semitic Languages in Contact contains twenty case studies analysing various contact situations involving Semitic languages. The languages treated span from ancient Semitic languages, such as Akkadian, Aramaic, Classical Ethiopic, Hebrew, Phoenician, and Ugaritic, to modern ones, including languages/dialects belonging to the Modern Arabic, Modern South Arabian, Neo-Aramaic, and Neo-Ethiopian branches of the Semitic family. The topics discussed include writing systems, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. The approaches range from traditional philology to more theoretically-driven linguistics. These diverse studies are united by the theme of language contact. Thus, the volume aims to provide the status quaestionis of the study of language contact among the Semitic languages.
With contributions from A. Al-Jallad, A. Al-Manaser, D. Appleyard, S. Boyd, Y. Breuer, M. Bulakh, D. Calabro, E. Cohen, R. Contini, C. J. Crisostomo, L. Edzard, H. Hardy, U. Horesh, O. Jastrow, L. Kahn, J. Lam, M. Neishtadt, M. Oren, P. Pagano, A. D. Rubin, L. Sayahi, J.Tubach, J. P. Vita, and T. Zewi.

The Verbal System of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Tense, Aspect, and Modality in Qumran Hebrew Texts

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Ken M. Penner

In 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.

The Verb and the Paragraph in Biblical Hebrew

A Cognitive-Linguistic Approach

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Elizabeth Robar

"Research on the function and semantics of the verbal system in Hebrew (and Semitics in general) has been in constant ferment since McFall’s 1982 work The Enigma of the Hebrew Verbal System. Elizabeth Robar's analysis provides the best solution to this point, combining cognitive linguistics, cross-linguistics, diachronic and synchronic analysis. Her solution is brilliant, innovative, and supremely satisfying in interpreting all the data with great explanatory power. Let us hope this research will be quickly implemented in grammars of Hebrew."

Peter J. Gentry, Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.

In The Verb and the Paragraph in Biblical Hebrew, Elizabeth Robar employs cognitive linguistics to unravel the notorious grammatical quandary in biblical Hebrew: explaining the waw consecutive, as well as other poorly understood verbal forms (e.g. with paragogic suffixes).

She explains that languages must communicate the shape of thought units: including the prototypical paragraph, with its beginning, middle and ending; and its message. She demonstrates how the waw consecutive is both simpler and more nuanced than often argued. It neither foregrounds nor is a preterite, but it enables highly embedded textual structures. She also shows how allegedly anomalous forms may be used for thematic purposes, guiding the reader to the author’s intended interpretation for the text as it stands.


Ancient Hebrew Periodization and the Language of the Book of Jeremiah

The Case for a Sixth-Century Date of Composition

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Aaron Hornkohl

In Ancient Hebrew Periodization and the Language of the Book of Jeremiah, Aaron Hornkohl defends the diachronic approach to Biblical Hebrew and the linguistic dating of biblical texts. Applying the standard methodologies to the Masoretic version of the biblical book of Jeremiah, he seeks to date the work on the basis of its linguistic profile, determining that, though composite, Jeremiah is likely a product of the transitional time between the First and Second Temple Periods.

Hornkohl also contributes to unraveling Jeremiah’s complicated literary development, arguing on the basis of language that its 'short edition', as reflected in the book’s Old Greek translation, predates that 'supplementary material' preserved in the Masoretic edition but unparalleled in the Greek. Nevertheless, he concludes that neither is written in Late Biblical Hebrew proper.

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Hezy Mutzafi

Neo-Mandaic is the last phase of a pre-modern vernacular closely related to Classical Mandaic, a Mesopotamian Aramaic idiom of Late Antiquity. This unique language is critically endangered, being spoken by a few hundred adherents of Mandaeism, the only gnostic religion to have survived until the present day. All other Mandaeans, numbering several tens of thousands, are Arabic or Persian speakers. The present study concerns the least known aspect of the language, namely its lexicon as reflected in both its dialects, those of the cities of Ahvaz and Khorramshahr in the Iranian province of Khuzestan. Apart from lexicological and etymological studies in Neo-Mandaic itself, the book discusses the contribution of the Neo-Mandaic lexis to our knowledge of literary Mandaic as well as aspects of this lexis within the framework of Neo-Aramaic as a whole.

Series:

Janet W. Dyk and Percy.S.F. van Keulen

Using the VU University syntactically analyzed, hiearchically structured database of ancient languages, the authors compared the Masoretic text of Kings to the Syriac Peshitta translation. The core question in this comparison is: which deviations between the two texts are related to the requirements of the distinct language systems, which are related to other aspects of the translation process, and which are related to the transmission history of the translated text? Though linguistic and text-historical approaches differ in method and focus, research into ancient biblical translations must take both into account. On the basis of a synoptic matching at clause level, corresponding phrases within the clauses are matched, and corresponding words within phrases. A choice out of a wealth of detailed differences thus brought to light are discussed at the syntactic level at which the phenomenon best fits: word, phrase, clause and above the clause.