4.0281 "Jewish Greek"; Diss. Abstract: Masoretic Text (2/131)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 13 Jul 90 17:12:50 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0281. Friday, 13 Jul 1990.

(1) Date: Friday, 13 July 1990 0956-EST (86 lines)
From: Bob Kraft <KRAFT@PENNDRLS>
Subject: "Jewish Greek" / New Documents vol. 5

(2) Date: Friday, 13 July 1990 0020-EST (45 lines)
From: Bob Kraft <KRAFT@PENNDRLS>
Subject: Dissertation Abstract

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Friday, 13 July 1990 0956-EST
From: Bob Kraft <KRAFT@PENNDRLS>
Subject: "Jewish Greek" / New Documents vol. 5

This morning's regular mail brought my copy of volume 5 of NEW DOCUMENTS
Documentary Research Centre, Macquarie University, Australia: 1989).
This volume differs radically from the first four, which reviewed
specific papyri and related documents pertinent to a study of early
Christianity that were published or republished in the period 1976-1979.
In volume 5, subtitled LINGUISTIC ESSAYS, Horsley provides state-of-
the-discipline treatments on key philological issues as noted below.
The only focused discussion of actual documents of the sort reviewed in
volumes 1-4 comes on pp. 95-114 "A Fishing Cartel in First-Century

Volume 5 is Horsley's "swansong as regards the series" (4). He will now
concentrate his efforts on the "New Moulton-Milligan" project to update
our information on the Greek of the early (Jewish and) Christian period
and produce an appropriate lexical tool to replace Moulton-Milligan.
The New Documents Series is committed to continue under a new editor for
at least 5 more volumes.

The "Essays" deal with the following subjects:
1. "The Fiction of 'Jewish Greek'"
2. "_Koine_ or Atticism -- a Misleading Dichotomy"
3. "The Syntax Volume of Moulton's _Grammar_"
4. "The Greek Documentary Evidence and NT Lexical Study:
Some Soundings"
The blurb on the back cover helps give the feel for Horsley's
interests in its description of the problems addressed:

-Was there a separate Jewish-Greek dialect of the _koine_?
-Is the emphasis given by NT Grammars to its Semitic features
-Can onomastic research aid our understanding of the social
level of the early Christians?
-How adequate for current research is Moulton and Milligan's
_Vocabulary of the Greek Testament_ and other such
lexicographical works?

The application to ancient languages of certain features of General
Linguistics is dealt with, and an appendix is included which surveys
some recent linguistically attuned contributions to Ancient Greek
studies. Cumulative indexes to all five volumes of the series have been
produced _de novo_. The book thus serves in part as a stocktaking of
the wealth of non-literary material which the earlier volumes have
highlighted for the study of early Christianity and contemporary
Judaism. [Thus far the blurb.]

Those of you who know the series, or its editor/author, will know that
this is front-rank scholarship at every level it addresses. Students of
early Christianity and early Judaism are extremely well served by the
series, but also students of the ancient world in general, of the Greek
language, and of comparative linguistics -- to mention only the most
obvious. As a sample of what you will find, and as a contribution to
discussions of the aforementioned areas, I will close by quoting
extensively from the conclusion to Horsley's essay on "Jewish Greek"

The edifice of Jewish Greek lacks foundation in reality, neither does it
have any cogent linguistic framework. Accordingly, it is built largely
using weak arguments and assertions. While it is not denied that
certain Semitic features obtrude into Greek written by Jews and
Christians in antiquity, where this occurs it is to be understood as the
expected phenomenon of interference which manifests itself in varying
degrees in the speech and writing of bilinguals. The door should be
left open, however, for the possibility (and even liklihood) that Greek
was spoken with a distinct ("marked") accent by those Jews in Palestine
whose mother tongue was Aramaic (or perhaps Mishnaic Hebrew). But
phonological differences alone are insufficient to establish the
existence of a separate dialect. Furthermore, other Aramaic speakers who
acquired facility in Greek must have had a similarly marked
pronunciation. All that could have distinguished a Jew from a non-Jew
in this regard, then, would be the use of certain technical terms
distinctive of Jewish culture and religion.... It was in their social
customs that the Jews were distinctive, not in their use of Greek, as K.
Treu has emphasized....

Problems of definition are one aspect of the question, lack of contact
with developments in linguistics another. Possibly a certain
theological predisposition has encouraged the continuing acceptance of
Jewish Greek in certain quarters. Just as there are ghost words imputed
to a language, so it may be urged that Jewish Greek is a ghost language.
And like all ghosts it needs to be laid to rest. [Thus far Horsley.]

Bob Kraft, Penn
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------56----
Date: Friday, 13 July 1990 0020-EST
From: Bob Kraft <KRAFT@PENNDRLS>
Subject: Dissertation Abstract

I asked my relatively new colleague, Edward Breuer, for permission to
circulate the following abstract of his recently accepted PhD
Dissertation at Harvard (1990). The networks are a good way to keep
people informed of this aspect of scholarship as well. Bob Kraft, Penn.


The German-Jewish Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century, the
Haskalah, marks the political, social, and intellectual transition of
European Jewry to modernity. One of the most important features of this
movement was an intensified interest in the Hebrew Bible. Beginning in
Prussian lands, the Maskilim decried the contemporary neglect of
Biblical scholarship and called for pedagogic emphasis on linguistic and
exegetical skills. The struggle to revive a creative and vigorous
tradition of Bible study has long been understood as a positive
manifestation of the Maskilic internalization of Enlightenment cultural
ideals and a move away from centuries of Jewish learning centered on
rabbinical literature.

This thesis will focus on another set of factors that appear to have
shaped the Maskilic interest in Scripture, namely the contemporary
challenge to traditional Bible study. Eighteenth century European
scholars aggressively questioned the authority and reliability of the
Masoretic text, a move that undermined the historical Jewish perception
of this version of the Hebrew Bible. At the same time, early modern
writers attacked the rabbinic interpretation of Scripture as
philologically and grammatically untenable. We shall attempt to
demonstrate that Moses Mendelssohn and other Maskilim of Berlin and
Ko%nigsberg were sensitive to such attacks, and that the publication of
Mendelssohn's edition of the Bible must be partly understood as a
defensive response to contemporary challenges. In its exegetical
writings, the early German Haskalah not only remained faithful to
medieval Scriptural interpretation and handling of Talmudic and
Midrashic literature, but endeavored to go beyond medieval writings in
order to bolster the Maskilic defense of rabbinical exegesis. As such,
the German Haskalah's embrace of _Aufkla%rung_ ideals represented an
important reorientation of Jewish life, but one that was informed by a
need to respond to elements of eighteenth century culture that were
perceived as threatening to traditional Judaism.