I'm enjoying the current Biblical Blog Carnival (# 13
), which I mentioned a few posts ago. I wanted to make note here of the link there to the Simon Holloway post / discussion about getting clear on the different Hebrew languages
). In my experience, the general public and even many university students are not aware that firm lines must be drawn between, say, Biblical Hebrew and Rabbinic Hebrew.
Beginning by 200 c.e., the Rabbinic Hebrew of such early Jewish literature as the Midrashim and the Mishnah emerged as a distinct new language over against earlier Hebrew. One of the key marks of this, according to Simon H., is Rabbinic Hebrew's consistent and clear use of verbs to convey tense. This differs from the meaning given to verbs by prefix forms and affix forms in classical Hebrew, where "aspect," not "tense," is often the meaning being conveyed.
Now, what about the status of modern Israeli Hebrew? Simon H. notes that it was Tyler Williams in a post on his blog (click here
) who recently posted on Ghil’ad Zuckermann's arguments that modern Israeli Hebrew is not the language of the prophet Isaiah (or of other biblical figures). Modern Hebrew is a whole new animal.
Simon is suspicious of Zuckermann's arguments in his main post, but in the comments section the discussion gets interesting. One reader, David Cohen, points out that Zuckermann has indeed presented real evidence that "Israeli" is marked as new language by more than just a new vocabulary / lexicon. I note that one of the articles where Z. presents this work has a provocative title: "Israel’s Main Language as a Semi-Engineered Semito-European Hybrid Language."