Rendsburg, Gary, “Hurvitz Redux: On the Continued Scholarly Inattention to a Simple Principle of Hebrew Philology,” Pages 104-128 in Biblical Hebrew: Studies in Chronology and Typology Edited by Ian Young. London: T&T Clark, 2003.
Gary Rendsburg is best known for his attention to the northern Hebrew dialects within BH, what he terms Israelian Hebrew (IH), by extending Hurvitz’ method of analyzing ‘Aramaisms’ to possible dialectal differences between the northern Israelian dialect and the southern Judean dialect. In this article he summarizes Hurvitz’ method, adds some of his own points, and then interacts with three articles in which scholars have attempted to demonstrate the late date of a text based on linguistic features.
Hurvitz had listed four specific settings where Aramaic-like features tend to appear in pre-exilic texts: 1) Poetry, since poets tend to have larger vocabularies making use of rare and archaic words; 2) Wisdom texts, such as Job and Proverbs, which may have Aramaic roots; 3) Narratives set in northern Israel, whose dialect contains isoglosses with Aramaic; and 4) Stories in which Arameans play a prominent role.
To these Rendsburg adds three more settings: 1) Texts which are not explicitly set in northern Israel, but may have their provenance in the North nonetheless, and thus reflect the IH dialect (he identifies several Psalms in this category); 2) Cases of “addressee-switching” where the author is addressing an audience who speak Aramaic, such as classical prophetic texts addressing Aram, or even Babylon and Assyria; 3) Use of Aramaic words for alliteration, especially in prose texts (to differentiate this from category 1 above), such as the use of מלל in Gen 21:7 in close proximity to מול and גמל.
After briefly discussing the cases of Genesis 24 and 1 Samuel 2:27-36, which he has treated more thoroughly in a previous article, Rendsburg interacts with articles by Michael Barré on Psalm 116, Alexander Rofé on 1 Lings 21, and Michael Waltisberg on Judges 5. In each of these cases he seeks to explain Aramaic-like features not as evidence of Aramaic influence, and hence a late date, but as features of IH. For instance, 3x in Psalm 116 the 3fs suffix כי- is used. Rendsburg points out that this form also appears 4x in the ketib of 2 Kings 4 where it is placed in Elisha’s mouth, who likely hailed from Gilead.
Rendsburg concludes by lamenting the lack of attention payed by most minimalist scholars to the linguistic evidence in the attempt to date biblical texts to the Persian and Hellenistic periods. As for his own methodology, he concedes that he assumes Aramaic-like features in the above defined contexts are early, unless other evidence in the text points to a late date, while other scholars may tend to assume that such Aramaisms are late unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.Explore posts in the same categories: Language Contact, Rendsburg, Gary