Apparently, China’s population is so large that they don’t even have enough room to bury people–at least that’s what a German company is saying.Â The Shanghai Daily reports that a German company is proposing to make an urn storage pyramid who’s shape is inspired from ancient Babylonian ziggurats.Â Each ziggurat could hold 1,600 urns.Â You can reserve your space in the ziggurat for a mere 2,000 euros plus an annual fee of 70 euros.Â I wonder how a dead person can pay the annual fee?
Tyler Williams of the Codex blog has an interesting post about an article in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures. Gary Knoppers discusses whether the book of Chronicles should be classified as historiography. If you’re interested in ancient Near East historiography and history, or the book of Chronicles, check it out.
If you’re interested in teaching, one of the biggest challenges (and exciting opportunities) facing you is integrating technology with you teaching in order to maximize the learning experience.Â Two sites will help you with this daunting task:
Both of them work at universities and are engaged in exploring how technology and innovation can help teaching.Â I bet you’ll be hearing more about them in the future.Â Both are moving their fields forward.
“I am tempted to comment that there are only two things wrong with the idea of a creation covenant of works: It was not a covenant and it was not based on works.”
–Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Gospel, page 93.
Old Testament Theology: Vol. 1
by John Goldingay
InterVarsity Press – IVP,2003
List Price: $45.00
Your Price: $32.85
The second article in the forum published in Hebrew Studies is entitled, “Biblical Texts Cannot Be Dated Linguistically” and is written by Ian Young. Young’s argument, as can be seen from the title, is that linguistic evidence is not decisive in arguments concerning the dating of ancient texts. He states that we cannot be sure if the text that has survived to this day was the actual product of the original author–the text have have undergone minor spelling revisions or wholesale alteration and significant editing.
This is not a controversial argument. I agree that we need to be cautious about our use of linguistic evidence for dating books. Young’s more controversial points include his thesis that Standard Biblical Hebrew continued to be used in the post-exilic period. Normally (some) scholars think that Standard Biblical Hebrew–the Hebrew used in pre-exilic periods writings–was used in this period and transitioned into Late Biblical Hebrew. Furthermore, Young believes that Late Biblical Hebrew was also used during the pre-exilic period but that it was a less formal dialect; Standard Biblical Hebrew was a “‘High’ prestige language.”
Therefore, since Young argues that both dialects were spoken simulaneously he states that linguistics cannot be used to date biblical texts. I agree more with Joosten’s article than Young’s. While I agree with Young that scholars have traditionally have put too much emphasis on linguistics for dating purposes, I do think that linguistic features can help in forming general, relative dates. Languages naturally develop, and we see this development in comparing biblical texts to inscriptional evidence. Furthermore, there is internal evidence of development of the language within the biblical corpus. Some biblical texts use a higher register of language than others but does not mean that Standard and Late Hebrew were spoken completely simultaneously.
Furthermore, one form of evidence that Young points to are some similarities between vocablulary and certain structures between what is traditionally categorized as Standard and Late Hebrew. It appears to me that he used an electronic search program in order to do this study and that he has cherry picked his examples to prove his point. Electronic evidence gathering can only get us so far. We must also use our sense of the text as Landsberger stated for Akkadian studies. Certain structures and vocabulary appear because languages do not entirely morph from one stage to the other, and the biblical text has undergone at least one modernization redaction. So, in some aspects it will have the appearance of standardization while subtle clues remain that point to Standard Biblical Hebrew’s older age.
What do you think?
I proposed a manifesto for the site, changethis.com and they accepted it. This is the way it works: They accepted my proposal and now it is posted on their page waiting for people to vote for it. If enough people vote for it, they will commisson me to write the manifesto. So, here’s the link, please vote for me:
Some pretty big people, like the management “ur-guru” Tom Peters, have written manifestos for ChangeThis so it would be a really great experience.
My manifesto is about creating transformational educational experiences, but hey, why not read about on changethis.com as you are voting for my proposal!
Bits not atoms. It’s become a famous phrase–almost a cliche–but it becomes more important with every passing day.
I admit, I jumped onto the blog thing a little late. For instance, my friend Jared Bridges began his internet experience way back in the dark ages of 1996. But, I’m glad I finally did get on board. There are many reasons why I think blogging is a valuable activity for scholars (for one example see Kevin Wilson‘s comment on my post The Ubiquitous Cultic Object) but one of the most valuable reasons was brought home to me just today.
In my previous post I made a couple comments regarding two comparative semitic grammars.
1) I noticed that on Eisenbrauns‘ web page they said that Lipinski’s volume was published in 2002 when it was in fact published in 2001. It’s a good thing that the person in charge of marketing at Eisenbrauns reads my blog (he has a really great blog that I read as well, ANEbooks) because he noticed my observation and made the changes on the Eisenbrauns page.
2) I made the comment that Moscati’s volume is out of print. To be honest, since this volume was published a long time ago, I just assumed that it was out of print, I should have checked into this more thoroughly before I said this. But, it’s a good thing that Jim reads my blog because he left me a comment saying that Eisenbrauns had just recieved a shipment of Moscati’s volume today! So, within 30 minutes of Jim’s comment on my blog, I changed the info. Furthermore, in his comment on my page, Jim left a link to Moscati’s volume on the Eisenbrauns page which I then went to, copied Eisenbrauns’ blogging tools and now you have a picture of the volume along with all the relevant publishing info about it on awilum.com.
That’s awesome stuff! People collaborating to make information more user-friendly, up-to-date and accurate. And it happens in a matter of minutes. Another reason why blogging is a great tool for scholars.
P.S. Another good friend of mine, David Esrati, has a really good post about brand managing. He recomends that companies monitor blogs more closely in order to preserve brand equity. Sounds like Eisenbrauns is doing a great job at maintaining their equity! I think Jim should get a raise
I just recieved the latest issue of Hebrew Studies last week. This volume contains the preceedings from a forum in 2004 concerning the dating of texts through historical linguistics and comparative Semitic studies. It’s a very interesting discussion and I will summarize and reflect upon one essay every few days.
Jan Joosten states that vocabulary can be easily manipulated to make a document seem older than it is, but syntactical structure is more difficult to simulate. Therefore, when atempting to date texts upon linguistic features, one should primarily look at the syntax and not the vocabulary of the text. Joosten also demonstrates several features of syntax that develop over time. For instance, over time the prefix form, yiqtol, moves from representing present tense in Classical Hebrew to mainly representing modal forms in Late and Mishnaic Hebrew. In Late Hebrew the predicative participle takes over the present tense function.
In light of this, one might be able to make general observations about the relative (not absolute) date of a text. Since syntactical development clearly took place, Joosten concludes:
Biblical scholars–not just one or other maverick, nor just a school of minimalists–have become too liberal in the matter of dating, particularly with regard to Pentateuchal texts. Paraphrasing Delitzsch, one is tempted to say: “If the Pentateuch were of postexilic origin, then there is no history of the Hebrew language.”
Joosten’s article is very interesting and I largely agree with it. I think the minimalist camp has definitely gone overboard with their historical reconstructions. These reconstructions are largely based upon the ideological content of texts and overlook syntactical features and devalue cross cultural comparisions. The syntactical development of Northwest Semitics in general and biblical Hebrew in particular is definitely an area that deserves more study (a glimmer of hope is seen when comparing Lipinski’s volume on comparitive Semitic grammar, 2nd ed. 2001, which includes a section on syntax and Moscati’s volume, 1969, which does not include syntax–progress is being made) and Joosten is apparently producing a monograph on this subject. In the meantime, check out the article, it’ll be worth your while.
Outline of a Comparative Grammar
Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta – OLA 80
by Edward Lipinski
List Price: $99.00
Your Price: $89.10
(I don’t know why Eisenbrauns lists this volume as from 2002, I own a copy of the 2nd. ed. and the copyright printed inside it says 2001. I also own Moscati’s volume which has been out of print for a while, but you can still find used copies–as per Jim’s comment, Eisenbrauns has corrected the date of printing on Lipinski’s volume and I’m pleased to hear that Moscati’s volume is still in print, so follow the link and pick up a copy today!.)
An Introduction to Comparative Grammar of Semitic Languages
Phonology and Morphology
Porta Linguarum Orientalium – PLO 6
by Sabatino Moscati
vii + 185 pages,English
Your Price: $59.00
Today’s NYT has an interesting piece that combines the Old Testament book of Esther, the modern Jewish holiday of Purim, and an assessment of modern geo-politics.Â Very interesting read that is worth your time.