Essays from the Copenhagen Symposium, 14-15 August, 2017
Edited by Mette Bundvad and Kasper Siegismund
This contribution offers a critical evaluation of John Screnock’s hypothesis that the basic word order in 1QM is subject-verb, with inversion triggered by fronting of non-subject elements or by the use of intransitive verbs. After a detailed examination of the evidence, the opposite conclusion is reached. Basic word order is verb-subject, with inversion to subject-verb order with pragmatically marked subjects (focus fronting). There seems to be no causal relationship between transitivity and word order. Furthermore, it is argued that Screnock’s interpretation of 1QM 1:1–3 (which flows from his transitivity-based analysis) is highly unlikely, as it leads to a division of sentences that would produce a structure practically unattested in the rest of the text. In addition, the findings are applied to the general discussion of word order in Hebrew, in particular as an argument against recent attempts at describing Biblical Hebrew as a language with basic subject-verb order.