Re: Hebrew and Greek as languages

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Sat Apr 11 1998 - 00:52:33 EDT

At 3:16 PM -0400 4/10/98, CWestf5155 wrote:
>Dear Eric,
>In a message dated 98-04-10 11:12:02 EDT, you write:
>> Hebrew is
>> one of the most calcified and "fixed" languages this planet has ever
>> seen. Hebrews thought of
>> words as being "holy" and not to be tampered with flippantly. Thus,
>> creative "shifts" were
>> rare and everyone knew what every word (with its limited vocabulary,
>> this was not so hard)
>> meant.
>This neither fits the evidence we have of the development of the Hebrew
>language, nor does it fit the nature of language in general.
>I understand that the alphabet itself changed so that there are very old
>sources of the 10 commandments that are written in a significantly different
>script, and that sections or all of the pentateuch had to be 'translated' from
>a proto-language and script, something like our translation of Chaucer--but
>I'm kind of vague on where I read it, so perhaps someone else can fill in

In fact, Hebrew script changed quite rapidly. I believe the block script
which is commonly taught in biblical Hebrew classes today is found in much
of the rabbinic writings (or at least a version similar to it), but it is
very different from what is found in inscriptions from the first century.
If I remember right, the inscription on the Caiaphas osuary (discovered
only a few years ago) would be illegible to many Hebrew Bible students.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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