A Social History of Hebrew: Its Origins Through the Rabbinic by William M. Schniedewind

By William M. Schniedewind

More than just a style of verbal exchange shared by way of a typical humans, the Hebrew language was once constantly a vital part of the Jewish cultural process and, as such, tightly interwoven into the lives of the prophets, poets, scribes, and clergymen who used it. during this distinct social background, William Schniedewind examines classical Hebrew from its origins within the moment millennium BCE until eventually the Rabbinic interval, whilst the foundations of Judaism as we all know it this day have been formulated, to view the tale of the Israelites throughout the lens in their language.
contemplating classical Hebrew from the perspective of a writing approach in place of vernacular speech, Schniedewind demonstrates how the Israelites’ lengthy historical past of migration, warfare, exile, and different momentous occasions is mirrored in Hebrew’s linguistic evolution. a very good addition to the fields of biblical and center jap reports, this attention-grabbing paintings brings linguistics and social historical past jointly for the 1st time to discover an old culture.

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Extra resources for A Social History of Hebrew: Its Origins Through the Rabbinic Period

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The alphabetic writing The Origins of Hebrew 35 system could thus have developed as a mundane alternative to the sacred hieroglyphic writing. Moreover, all the earliest known alphabetic writing came from peripheral regions directly and indirectly controlled by the Egyptians. ), known today as Serabit el-Khadem. Viewed together with the Wadi el-Hôl inscriptions, it becomes clear that the origins of the alphabet must be linked with Egyptian writing. This is also evident in the form of the letters in the early alphabetic inscriptions.

The Emergence of Writing in Canaan The ancient Israelites had cultural memories that identified them with foreigners (like the Amorites), and they subdivided themselves by dialects (like Gileadite and Ephraimite). Likewise, the Hebrew language and its writing system were not completely original. They had their predecessors and precursors. For this reason, the search for the origins of Hebrew in this book will begin with its written precursors in the ancient Near East. e. The cuneiform writing system originated in southern Mesopotamia and appears to have the pride of priority.

Alphabetic writing definitely made it easier for nonspecialists to acquire rudimentary skills in writing, as evidenced by Wadi el-Hôl and Serabit el-Khadem. Though it would require either state sponsorship or economic complexity for the alphabet to spread, it persisted in the second millennium even without these. To be sure, learning to read— even with an alphabet—is not something that happens “in a matter of days or weeks,”23 but the ability to acquire rudimentary facility in reading is different with alphabetic scripts than with cuneiform or hieroglyphics, hence its democratizing potential.

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