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Verbal System: Biblical Hebrew

(2,616 words)

Author(s): Joosten, Jan
As in other languages with a conjugated verb, so in BH (= Biblical Hebrew) different verbal forms express distinct nuances of tense, aspect, and mood. Traditionally, the BH verbal system has been viewed as being organized around a central opposition: qaṭal (the ‘perfect’) versus yiqṭol (the ‘imperfect’); but this analysis has proved wrongheaded. Both historical considerations and a synchronic approach show that the BH system is more complex and cannot be reduced to a mere binary opposition. Precise definition of verbal usage is difficult …

Septuagint, Underlying Knowledge of Hebrew

(1,200 words)

Author(s): Joosten, Jan
Although the Septuagint is a Greek text, it is possible to reason back to the mental dictionary and grammar of the translators. This provides an interesting window on the knowledge of Hebrew during the Hellenistic period (the bulk of the Septuagint having been produced between ca. 280 and 120 B.C.E.). A number of caveats need to be taken into account, however (Barr 1968:245–251). Any given passage of the Septuagint may be based on a text diverging from the received Masoretic text. In addition, t…

Hebraisms in the Greek Versions of the Hebrew Bible

(1,542 words)

Author(s): Joosten, Jan
Hebraisms are linguistic features in another language that are in some way unusual due to the influence of Hebrew. In the ancient Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible (Septuagint, Theodotion, and Aquila), Hebraisms are due almost exclusively to the process of translation. While interlingual translation always leads to a certain amount of transfer from the source language to the target language, several circumstances caused this transfer to be particularly strong in the case of the Septuagint. Firstly, the earliest translators of the Hebre…

Egypt: in Antiquity

(715 words)

Author(s): Joosten, Jan
Throughout the biblical period, Egypt was an important destination for emigrants from the land of Israel. Reports of Jewish settlements in the land of the Nile come to us from the 6th century B.C.E. onwards. A prophecy in Isa. 19.18 announces: “there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan”. Actual information on the knowledge of Hebrew in Egypt is scarce, however, and mostly negative. The data indicate that Jews living in Egypt were thoroughly acculturated, at…

Classicism: Biblical Hebrew

(653 words)

Author(s): Joosten, Jan
The vocabulary and grammar of Biblical Hebrew are remarkably constant, especially when one considers that the biblical texts must have come into being over a period of at least five-hundred (and possibly as much as one-thousand) years. To some extent, this constancy may reflect the fact that languages change slowly. But in the case of Biblical Hebrew there is an additional factor as well: after the Babylonian exile, when large parts of what was to become the biblical corpus had acquired a measur…


(9,806 words)

Author(s): Wiggermann, Franciscus A.M. | Wiggermann, F.A.M. | Betz, Hans Dieter | Baudy, Dorothea | Joosten, Jan | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Antiquity – III. Bible – IV. Church History – V. Practical Theology – VI. Philosophy of Religion – VII. Judaism – VIII. Islam I. Religious Studies No definition of magic has as yet found general acceptance. Approaches that go back to the late 19th century (E.B. Tylor, J.G. Frazer) view magic as a primitive cognitive system, the lowest rung on an evolutionary ladder (Evolution) that progresses with religion and science (cf. also Myth/Mythology: I). Magic in this view is charact…