Friday, August 18, 2017

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Words

The second pillar of DH is that JEDP all have different styles and language. This, says DH, is because having been created at different times, they used different words. It’s called language layering; because the words purportedly reflect foreign influences, it is also called mischsprache. When you find a word that did not exist before the Babylonian Captivity, the text you find it in must belong to P.
But how do you prove that it didn’t exist before the Babylonian captivity?
This goes back a long time to my discussion about archaeological evidence. Not only don’t we have archaeological evidence of all the texts produced in Hebrew, once it had its own writing system, we only have two up until the time of Qumran. One is from the 800s BCE; the other is from right before the Babylonian Captivity. Only the latter reproduces text known from Torah.
That’s not enough to prove that some words didn’t exist before the Babylonian Captivity. It’s barely enough to prove that some words did exist before the Babylonian Captivity. It’s the same concept I talked about in the last section about dictionaries of classical Greek not having words for certain things.
What does the mischsprache concept say and how does it compare to the 21st century understanding of Semitic languages, which I referred to in the previous section of the blog?
One important work on the mischsprache concept for Hebrew, is Bauer and Leander’s book from 1922. Bauer and Leander give a graphic which shows shows Hebrew and Akkadian on one side as siblings, and Phoenician on another side with Aramaic and Arabic as its siblings, depicted as younger cousins of Akkadian and Hebrew.
B&L claimed that the earliest evidence of a separate language for Jews is Mishnah when it is in pre-Captivity Tannakh. Kings II 18:26 clearly indicates that there was a Jewish language separate from Aramaic, but it is called yehudit, “Jewish”; Bauer and Leander were looking for the word ivrit, “Hebrew.” They were under the mistaken impression that the Hapiru were the ancestors of the Jews, an issue settled late in the 20th century.
B&L considered Arabia the home of the Semitic languages and then asked how the Semitic languages could have gotten there from the north. Get there from what place exactly? They rejected Mesopotamia as the source.
B&L didn’t realize that after the Gutians took over in Mesopotamia, the west was left to its own devices for centuries, during which both Canaanite and Hebrew developed.
Modern genetics tells the story. The Semitic languages originated in northeastern Anatolia between the Caucasus and Lake Van. This happened between 5000 and 3500 BCE. Archaeology shows that Akkadian used the Sumerian writing system, which developed by 3500 BCE. The oldest surviving Akkadian texts appeared by 2600 BCE and so (cultura non facit saltus) the Akkadian language existed for centuries before that. After 2350 BCE, when Naram-Sin’s homeland was conquered by the Indo-European Gutians, Semitic speakers in the west went their own way and developed Ugaritic, Canaanitic, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
Since the language pillar of DH is based on outdated information, it can’t serve as evidence that DH is true, more evidence that DH is a Linda problem.
The DH argument about words not existing at a given point in time, is only a version of the argument from silence which, as you know, is false unless you can show you have a complete dataset. So here is our first fallacy, and since it is used to claim that the four documents exist at all, the probability that DH is true, is zero.
There is one chance to rehabilitate this pillar and I’ll discuss it next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, August 17, 2017

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- raqia

Genesis 1:6
ו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל בֵּין מַיִם לָמָיִם:
 
Translation:     Gd said Let there be a raqia in the midst of the water so as to let it be setting a division between water and water.
 
Notice that I didn’t translate raqia. The usual translation is “firmament” which is wrong. Raqia has the root resh qof ayin and the verb with the same root is in Exodus 39:3 which describes hammering pure gold very thin and then cutting thin strips from it, which are woven with colored thread to make the efod. In Numbers 17:4; Elazar hammers flat the copper censers that were not consumed with their owners, and uses the plates as a covering for the ark.
 
“Firmament” comes from the Septuagint which uses the Greek stereoma for raqia. Stereoma means a hard body. It suits the Aristotelian concept that above earth is a tightly fitted hollow ball which is the sphere of the moon, the sphere of the sun being outside of that, and then five more spheres for the ancient visible planets.
 
The raqia is discussed in Babylonian Talmud, Passover 94a, as being 1000 parasangs thick (1277 kilometers), and below that Passover 94b says earth is 182,500 parasangs or 233 thousand kilometers below it. What’s more, Chagigah 13a (also in Babylonian Talmud) says that there are seven raqias, all the same thickness (1000 parasangs) and there is a distance of 1000 parasangs between each raqia. The raqia is a relatively thin covering over whatever is beneath it.  What is in that 1000 parasangs of distance between each raqia, nobody discusses.
 
That is probably related to Mishnah Chagigah 2:1 (Babylonian Talmud Chagigah 11b) which says “There are four things that if a man thinks about them, it would be better if he had never been born: what is above; what is below; what is before; and what is after.” Look: Judaism has 613 commandments. It’s hard to obey them all. If you haven’t done that, it doesn’t matter what you think about esoteric things like the seven raqiot, or what holds the world up (pre-Newton), how the universe began (pre-Einstein), or how it will end.
 
And if you do spend time on those things, you always get to a point where you run out of answers. Then you either stop talking, or you start making things up. You’re not Gd. Only Gd knows the truth about those things. People will either ignore you because they know you don’t know, or they’ll believe you. If they believe you, you become “somebody putting a stumbling block before the blind”. And that right there violates one of the 613 commandments.
 
That’s not anti-science. Science admits it doesn’t know everything. That’s why scientists still have work to do. Judaism is not anti-science. It says that to be a Jew you have to fulfill the 613 commandments. You can do that and still be a scientist. But if you’re not a scientist and you don’t study science so that you know where science ends and the unknown begins, you should be going and fulfilling commandments.
 
Why didn’t Septuagint use a better word? I don’t know. I’ve done some research among experts who wrote about the Greek of the Septuagint (see the Fact-Checking bibliography for Deissman, for example) and the conclusion I’m reaching is that the Septuagint was done, not by religious Jews for their own purposes, but by political hacks so that the first two Ptolemies would have the Jews on their side if they were attacked by Seleucus, who got control of Syria after Alexander died. And when that attack did come, the Jews did support Egypt while the Samaritans, whom the Ptolemies ignored, helped Seleucus.
 
Commentators down through the ages have said what a bad translation Septuagint was. They include ben Sirach, a century later; Jerome, six centuries later; the Geneva translators and King James I of England, twelve centuries after Jerome; and most recently, the American council of classical Bishops whose newly authorized translation changes Isaiah 7:14 so that it no longer reflects what Septuagint says.

There are other words in Torah that I think should not be translated so as to emphasize that they mean what they mean and have been mis-translated, and I discuss them in Narrating the Torah which is still in preparation.
 
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Knitting -- more lace lessons learned

Number one is the reason why traditional Shetland knitters do their lace shawls in sections -- edging, border, center -- and then graft them together.

IT'S HEAVY.

The Williamson stole pattern says this several times, including at the very start where they tell you to use the most delicate lace yarn possible.  The same is true for the famous wedding ring shawls, which are very large but knitted in a very delicate yarn which makes them able to go through a wedding ring.

By the time I finished adding the edging to the ocean wave lace, I had put on a couple of pounds of muscle in my arms from turning it to attach the edging instead of knitting it separately and grafting it on.

OK not seriously but you get my drift.

Second, if you are going to design a shawl, you must do math. The piece looks higgledy piggledy because it is. If I intended it for a gift or for show, it would disappoint whoever I gave it to or probably not get accepted by the show jury.

The math will also help you buy the right amount of yarn.  It's better to have leftovers that you can use up in something else, than to fall short, have to buy something with a different dye lot, and forget where you are in the pattern while you wait for delivery. Here's a website that can help you figure out how much yarn to buy in different weights for a given number of stitches needed. It's in both metric and "English"  measurements -- which England doesn't use any more but the U.S. still does more than two centuries after our revolution. Go figure. No, wait, with this you WON'T have to go figure for  yourself. Agh, I've got a headache. Numbers always do that to me.

http://www.planetshoup.com/easy/tips/yarnamts.shtml

The third lesson learned is, when you have never knitted lace before, it's a GOOD thing to start with worsted, even though it's heavy.  That's because unless you have really really good control of your tension, you will constantly be breaking your fingering weight or lace weight yarn. One knitter said this straight out on her website.

So although I started with worsted weight leftover yarn, I was able to graduate to sport weight leftover yarn, and then to DK, and only then did I work with fingering yarn. I learned how to knit loosely enough so that k3tog wasn't a hassle, but not so loosely that the work looked like a fishing net instead of a piece of fabric.

Work up to it and ignore anybody who points out your mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes when they're still learning. The smart people aren't afraid of mistakes because they aren't afraid of learning something from them.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fact-Checking the Torah -- is it an axiom or not?

The problem with DH is the pillar of Gd’s Name. DH says that elohim is Gd’s name in the E document. That means that when you find text that uses elohim you can assign it to E. It came from E. It got into its current position because the editor took that text from E and put it at its current position.
But in the 1970s CE, one scholar decided that use of elohim in the first aliyah of Genesis does not mark it as E. It is P. Why?
Because he said that its discussion of Shabbat could not have occurred until the Babylonian captivity with invention of the P text.
That conflicts with material in Amos and Hoshea. Both refer to Shabbat, and both of them died more than a century before the Babylonian captivity. Wellhausen states that it doesn’t matter what Amos and Hoshea said.
It matters a lot, unless there is evidence that Amos and Hoshea lived during or after the Babylonian Captivity, not centuries before it, or that the material attributed to them was invented during or after the Babylonian Captivity, not before it. In fact Sayce’s claim that Shabbat was a late invention was a misinterpretation of the evidence, as you’ll remember if you’ve been following this blog from the start.
In the last section I said that Biblical Hebrew had to be learned on the street because there were no grammar books.  It means that Amos and Hoshea do matter, because Amos the cowherd uses the same Biblical Hebrew grammar as the Torah.
Wellhausen didn’t have didn’t have 21st century evidence about Semitic languages in general or Biblical Hebrew in particular. He was teaching at the time that Hermann Strack was publishing the Porta Linguarum Orientalium series with Delitzsch’s work on Assyrian. But that doesn’t mean Wellhausen read anything in either of Strack’s series (the other was Clavis Linguarum Semiticarum). He also didn’t have Sayce’s claims to mislead him; he had stopped publishing by that time.
If the writer from the 1970s did rely on Sayce, he doesn’t cite to him. He simply argued: P dates to the Captivity, it’s a work of ritual, so it must be the sole source of Shabbat, so the creation story must date to the Captivity.
You can see that this is another conjunction, and that the probability of each term is less than one. The conflict with the timing of Amos and Hoshea, and with the axiom of “elohim is from E”, suggests that its combined probability is low.
I’ll give more evidence later about problems with the “names of Gd” pillar. For now, there's more to say about the language issue in DH.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved
  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- hifil progressive

Genesis 1:6
ו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל בֵּין מַיִם לָמָיִם:
 
Transliteration: Va-yomer elohim y’hi raqia b’tokh ha-maim v’yhi mavdil ben maim la-maim.
Translation:     Gd said Let there be a raqia in the midst of the water so as to let it be setting a division between water and water.
Letters in this lesson:
 
Vocabulary in this lesson:
 
רָקִיעַ
Raqia
בְּתוֹךְ
in the midst of, among
מַבְדִּיל
Divide
 
You should recognize the root of the last word in the vocabulary; you’ve seen it before. This is the progressive aspect of the verb you saw as yavdel before, but in a real hifil. Now you can see how the piel progressive I showed you before differs from the hifil. They use all the same suffixes for gender and number. So try writing out the progressive of “divide” for yourself.
 
Now notice that we have bein again, but not bein…u-vein.  This time it’s bein X l’X. Previously we divided two different nouns. Now we’re dividing between the same noun twice. We’ll find out why when we get to the next verse.
 
We have y’hi again, “let X exist” but then we have a new form.
 
Viyhi is neither a certainty epistemic nor a jussive with a predicate noun. It has a predicate gerundive in the progressive aspect.
 
The progressive aspect here is taking on the job of a substantive via this gerundive usage; there are six other uses of vihi in Torah and all of them are followed by a noun.
 
I also want you to notice the dagesh in the dalet of mavdil. Here’s the syllabification: mav-dil. Because the first syllable is closed by a consonant, the dalet opening the next syllable has to take dagesh.
 
But this is not the same thing as verbal gemination. It’s a requirement of syllabification.
 
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fact-Checking the Torah -- DH pillars

Before your brain fills up and spills over, I’d better give you the basic scheme for DH.  The basis is what Umberto Cassuto called the “five pillars”.  These are the classes of criteria that DH set up to assign material to the four documents.
The pillars are: Name of Gd used in the material; language and style; unified viewpoint including theology and ethics; repetitions; contradictions; and composites or conflations of material.
DH has produced descriptions of each putative source document.
J or Jahwist is a document invented in writing in the monotheistic southern kingdom between 800 and 700 BCE.  It uses the Tetragrammaton for Gd’s name.  Two hundred years after the First Temple was built, this culture still had a primitive and practical but not a legal viewpoint (Wellhausen’s phrase “Jehovistic law” refers to D, AFAICT: to him, J is “Jehovistic history”), and it expressed this viewpoint unemotionally.
E or Elohist is a document invented in the pagan northern kingdom in writing between 800 and 700 BCE.  It uses elohim for Gd’s name.  It was written and brought south in a period of about 70 years that ended with the Assyrian invasion of the north.  It had a more refined theological viewpoint than J and used more emotional expressions.
D or Deuteronomist is a document invented in the southern kingdom between 650 and 625 BCE, after the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom.  It is related to the reforms centering around the scroll found in the temple and interpreted by the prophetess Huldah.  It contributed to Numbers and Deuteronomy.
P or Priestly is a document invented by Jews between 525 and 425 BCE, that is, during or after the Babylonian Captivity.  It covers all of Leviticus and part of Numbers and Genesis and served priestly didactic needs.
Furthermore, DH claims that each of these documents had a complete and completely different account of Jewish history that was completely consistent with its viewpoint. 
The first combination was JE.  JED came later and P was added on last.  Or rather, not added on but edited in. 
The editing preserved the original viewpoints, the styles of writing such as emotional or unemotional, but erased all traces of the fact that chapters, verses, and parts of verses came from different documents.  So for centuries people went along studying Torah thinking it was a whole, seamless or not, until starting in the 1700s and mostly in the 1800s CE, some clever scholars winkled out the original scheme.
Notice that the descriptions above are irrelevant to which steps happened in what order to get to JEDP. They only specify the timing prior to which nothing existed. E could have laid around in somebody’s back room until the Captivity and then been scooped up in a rush to, say, take it to Egypt with Barukh and Yirmiyahu. That’s like saying “Linda is 31”; DH is a true Linda problem.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, August 3, 2017

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- confusing labels

Genesis 1:5
 
ה וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד:
 
Translation:     Gd named the light day and the darkness He named night; there must have been evening, there must have been morning, one day.
 
Last point, I promise.
 
Notice the l’, la-or, v’la-choshekh.
 
This is a preposition, which is usually translated “to” and therefore might be labeled “dative”. BUT in some contexts it means “for” which in most languages takes the genitive.
 
This is one of those reasons why BH should be treated stand-alone, not in terms of labels that work with other languages.  You can’t think of l’ as a dative preposition without forgetting that it also has genitive meaning. 
 
What’s more, l’ doesn’t just mean “to” as an indirect object. It also means “in order to, for the sake of, for the purpose of, with the result of.” In Arabic – and, coincidentally, in Classical Greek – such a structure uses a gerundive. Nevertheless, western grammarians have slapped on the Arabic structure the name “subjunctive”, which probably calls up all kinds of horrors in your memory if you have ever studied Latin or French. I know it sends a cold chill down my back.
 
If you are thinking about this, you are saying to yourself, but “to” plus a verb is an infinitive. It might be an infinitive in Latin or French, but it’s not in BH, or in Arabic, and the verb form in Classical Greek is not the same as the “infinitive” in that language.
 
So stop thinking about BH grammar in terms of what you were taught when you studied other languages, especially non-Semitic languages. In Semitic languages, it’s different, and in BH, it’s even more different.
 
BUT make sure to notice the qamats under the lamed. That means it’s “the light”, not just “light”. In the following word, it’s a patach. Hebrew prepositions that can combine with (“agglutinate to”) the substantive can take a qamats or patach to indicate that the word they are attached to a definite noun, “the” whatever. Also notice that the qamats is with alef and the patach is with chet.
 
While the alef and chet are both gutturals, the chet has a sound of its own, so it can take the short vowel patach. The alef doesn’t. The “a” has to cover both the lamed and the alef. So it’s a qamats, a long “a”.  I said some time back that the definite article can take either one of these vowels; now I’ve told you why I think that is.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved