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Language and meaning, studies in Hebrew language and biblical exegesis :…

by James Barr

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" ... Etymology must somehow have some value for the understanding of biblical language, and I myself had granted this. If etymological study, then, is not to be totally rejected, we should try to say something more precise about its value and demarcate more exactly the line that separates its proper use from its misuse. We may begin, then, by summarizing three general reasons which appear to favour the continuing importance of etymology: a. It is not in dispute that etymology is in principle a valid form of study and that it can furnish valuable insights into the history and the background of words. b. Etymology is particularly important for the identification and elucidation of rare words and hapax legomena. The Hebrew Bible has many such reare words, and thes can often be elucidated only through comparison with words in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic and other congnate languages; this was expressly admitted by me in Semantics. c. Etymology is not something confined to the modern world. On the contrary, the etymological consciousness was already very strong in ancient world, and notably so in the milieu of the Bible, of early Judaism and of early Christianity."--Etymology and the Old Testament / James Barr.… (more)
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" ... Etymology must somehow have some value for the understanding of biblical language, and I myself had granted this. If etymological study, then, is not to be totally rejected, we should try to say something more precise about its value and demarcate more exactly the line that separates its proper use from its misuse. We may begin, then, by summarizing three general reasons which appear to favour the continuing importance of etymology: a. It is not in dispute that etymology is in principle a valid form of study and that it can furnish valuable insights into the history and the background of words. b. Etymology is particularly important for the identification and elucidation of rare words and hapax legomena. The Hebrew Bible has many such reare words, and thes can often be elucidated only through comparison with words in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic and other congnate languages; this was expressly admitted by me in Semantics. c. Etymology is not something confined to the modern world. On the contrary, the etymological consciousness was already very strong in ancient world, and notably so in the milieu of the Bible, of early Judaism and of early Christianity."--Etymology and the Old Testament / James Barr.

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