Dating archaic biblical hebrew poetry
Some revisionist historians insist that the Bible in its entirety is a product of the Hellenistic age, but according to Hendel and Joosten, the truth is much more complicated and much more intriguing. These theories of age-dating are explained — and often criticized — in “How Old Is the Hebrew Bible?Some passages represent “the oldest age of biblical literature,” predating the period when King David and his successors reigned in ancient Israel, perhaps as early as 3,000 years ago. The most recent books of the Bible are dated as late as the second century B. ” The authors point out that the Bible “is a brittle text, fracturing under the slightest pressure,” and they point out the “strata and fragments” that serve as dating tools to place a particular passage at a specific point in history.” Spelling, vocabulary, “conscious archaizing” of late texts, and even scribal mistakes show “how the language and text change over time.” Hendel is the Norma and Sam Dabby Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joosten is the Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford.This particularly lean style is characterized by short lines, consisting of only two to six words per line, lending the impression of a heightened, dense form of discourse, achieved by bringing semantically important words together.As with other bodies of poetry, it routinely involves higher concentrations of words and phrases with rare meanings or usages, bold ellipses, sudden transitions, and other stylistic complexity.
In one example, the Hebrew name of King David is spelled ﬢ וּ ﬢ (daled, vav, daled) in the Tel Dan inscription, which dates to the ninth century B. E., but the same name is predominantly spelled ﬢ וּיּ ﬢ (daled, vav, yod, daled) in Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and other biblical books that originated several centuries later during the Persian period.In quite a different vein, although written at about the same time, O’Connor 1997 (originally published in 1980) presents a minute syntactic description of Hebrew poetry that has been met with mixed reviews, in part due to its demanding nature, though for the patient reader, the book contains many insights.