Qumran Hebrew: An Overview of Orthography, Phonology, and Morphology.

Author:Yuditsky, Alexey (Eliyahu)
Position:Book review
 
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Qumran Hebrew: An Overview of Orthography, Phonology, and Morphology. By ERIC D. REYMOND. Resources for Biblical Study, vol. 76. Atlanta: SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE, 2014. Pp. xvii + 309. $37.95 (paper).

Some thirty years ago Qimron's Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which was in fact an abbreviated English version of his Ph.D. thesis in Hebrew, was published (Qimron 1986). It was based on material published up until 1985. Since then no extensive research on the grammar of the Scrolls' Hebrew has appeared. Now that all the Scrolls have been edited and published in the DJD series, a new comprehensive study on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls (hereafter: DSS) is a desideratum.

The present book is, thus, a pioneer in this field. It starts with an introduction and general remarks (pp. 1-21). The orthography section (pp. 23-64) is fairly comprehensive, including a description of the scribal mistakes occurring in the Scrolls, a treatment of the Plene orthography and Aleph as internal Mater Lectionis, usage of the digraphs--[phrase omitted], etc., and a chapter regarding utilization of double Waw ([phrase omitted]) and Yod ([phrase omitted]) to express the semi-vowels /w/ and /y/.

The next extensive section is phonetics and phonology (pp. 65-150). There is a very scrupulous study on the weakening of the gutturals in the Scrolls. Examining the interchange of the letters expressing gutturals, Reymond concludes that the common opinion regarding an almost complete weakening of the gutturals in the DSS idiom is far from satisfying. Another ample study in this section is dedicated to the glide shifts depicted by the interchange of the letters Aleph and Yod, Aleph and Waw, and Yod and Waw. A reader will further find an instructive treatment of the behavior of the diphthongs and triphthongs in the Hebrew of the DSS.

The next section is morphology (pp. 151-224). However, this does not consist of a systematic description of the verbal conjugations and declinations and nominal forms, but rather a group of inquiries into various morphological issues. It includes quite a detailed discussion of the pronouns in the Scrolls. Then there is a general description of the nouns, with a special treatment of the original qutl forms. The occurring verbal conjugations are also described, with special attention to the qal imperfect and qal imperative suffixed forms.

The book concludes with a discussion concerning the nature of the Hebrew of the DSS.

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