Discussion: Statement Eugene Ulrich
I have no empirical proof but a strong hunch that, if one started with one hundred bright, trained young Hebraists who had no special knowledge of Isaiah and gave the text of Isaiah in prose format unmarked, unvocalized, with no accentuation or sense divisions, 70-80 % of their division-points would coincide. That is, most people looking at most texts would quite probably sense that the text ought to be divided at most of the same points, most of the time.
(E. Ulrich, `Sense Divisions in Ancient Manuscripts of Isaiah', in: M.C.A. Korpel, J.M. Oesch, Unit Delimitation in Biblical Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Literature, Assen 2003, p. 302)
Discussion: The Use of the Masoretic Delimiters
For the SBL meeting in Groningen Paul Sanders made 5 theses for a discussion on the Masoretic delimiters. Unfortunately there was no possibility to discuss these theses. However, afterwards Prof. Revell was so kind to react to all five theses to start the discussion on the Internet (for a document with the reaction of Prof. Revell to the theses click here.). The theses were formulated in order to provoke more discussion in the Pericope group about the basic principles in using the masoretic delimiters like accents, petuchot and setumot.
Thesis 1: To a large extent, the placing of the major disjunctive accents in the Hebrew Bible goes back to a division of the text from the pre-Christian era.
Thesis 2: Only if a distinctive Masoretic accent is preceded by a weaker distinctive accent (for instance zaqef qaton preceded by pashta), the Masoretes assumed the end of a colon after the word bearing the stronger distinctive accent (in this case after zaqef qaton).
Thesis 3: The distribution of the pausal forms in the Hebrew Bible represents a division of the text that is older than the division by means of the Tiberian accentuation.
Thesis 4: The distribution of the petuchot and setumot in the best mediaeval manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible is largely due to the use of the texts in the Jewish liturgy, and does not go back to an ancient text division.
Thesis 5: The remarkable correspondences between divisions in the Hebrew Bible and the divisions in the oldest translations suggest that these divisions go back to a very early stage.
Reaction Prof. J. Revell
There seems no doubt of this for the cola of poetry, and very little for the verses of prose (on the evidence of early Greek texts). However, I assume that this thesis refers to the petuchot and setumot, and that it is, in effect, the reverse of thesis 4. If so, my view, is stated above.
Further discussion topics here.
Reactions can be sent to the webmaster who will place them on the site.
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