Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- come together

Aside from how it dovetails with Olrik’s principles, Dr. Cook’s discussion of certainty/evidentiary epistemics connects to Jewish tradition.
I said that “to be” is weird in any language, and the same thing is true of its certainty epistemic.  Due to its relationship to the deontic imperative, y’hi or could be translated as “it would be good if there was light.”  And that feeds directly into the ki-tov statement.   But you can’t translate it that way the second time it appears, and there’s no evidence in the story itself that the translation should change.  So I’m going to stick with “there must be light [around here somewhere].”
And that leads directly to a rabbinic midrash.  It says that everything already existed by the time the creation story opened.  What it means by saying va-yar is that Gd made some of them manifest to mortals.  And that leads to the conclusion that the creation story does not, and never intended to, give the exact order of creation.  This is reinforced by the fact that earth, heaven, and water already existed when the story opens, and on the second day Gd uses the raqia to divide the upper waters which already existed from the lower waters.  Sure, the rabbis discussed whether heaven was created before earth or not; a rabbi from the 100s CE said they were created at the same time and that seemed to be the accepted answer since, as the rabbis also noted, there are places in Tannakh where it says “earth and heaven”.  Obviously they are equal both in time and importance.  And that short-circuits one religious debate that has used up a lot of time and ink without ever being resolved.
The rabbis obviously didn’t have Dr. Cook’s dissertation to go by. What they had was Tannakh.  There are something like 800 examples of just this one certainty epistemic in Tannakh, and they are all used in a similar way.  For people who knew this material backwards and forwards, upside down and rightside up, left to right, inside out, those examples produced an impression that came out in the midrash I just talked about.  I’m giving you a shortcut to what took a couple of millennia to gell before it influenced midrash.
Olrik and Dr. Cook were far from being experts in Jewish literature.  But now there’s a tripod of data that all points to the same conclusion.  It hardly gets much better than that.

But wait, there's more.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment