Harvard Semitic Studies - HSS

The Function of the Tautological Infinitive in Classical Biblical Hebrew
Kim Y-K. The Function of the Tautological Infinitive in Classical Biblical Hebrew.; 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

One of the intriguing and insufficiently understood features of Biblical Hebrew is the use of an infinitive form alongside a finite verb of the same root. The function of this construction has generally been understood as serving to provide some kind of emphasis. However, neither translations nor grammars are consistently able to explain what is being emphasized by the use of this construction. This volume, which is a revision of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation at the Johns Hopkins University (2006), examines the tautological infinitive construction in Classical Biblical Hebrew (that is, the Hebrew written during the First Temple Period, more or less equivalent to the material in Genesis–2 Kings, excluding "P") in order to give a coherent and consistent explanation of its function. In a final chapter, Kim discusses the use of the tautological infinitive in Classical Biblical Hebrew in relation to its use in non-Classical biblical texts and Semitic languages in order to set it in a broader context.

Markedness in Canaanite and Hebrew Verbs
Korchin P. Markedness in Canaanite and Hebrew Verbs.; 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Semitic linguistics is arguably involved in its own version of a "maximalist versus minimalist" controversy with respect to verbal morphology. Dissent persists about whether and to what degree the Northwest Semitic verb paradigms underlying languages such as Biblical Hebrew and Amarna Canaanite (yaqtul, yaqtulu, yaqtula) are themselves determinative of tense-aspect-mood values, as opposed to extra-verbal structures ranging from syntax to discourse. To label a verb form as marked or unmarked for these values is to evoke a bountiful yet nebulous complex of theories about how language is built and employed. But Semitists have often unwittingly bleached markedness terms of their full historical and technical significance, reducing them to generic appellations that are invoked in sporadic and nearly random fashions. By applying markedness to Semitic morphology in a consistent and rigorous manner, this innovative book brings to bear a venerable linguistic construct on a persistent philological crux, in order to achieve deeper clarity in the structures and workings of Canaanite and Hebrew verbs. Korchin's arguments hold relevance for translating and interpreting nearly every sentence in ancient texts such as the Hebrew Bible and the Amarna letters.

Kraus NL. Scribal Education in the Sargonic Period.; 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract

An in-depth analysis of the process of education for scribes during the period of Sargonic hegemony in ancient Mesopotamia (c. 2335-2150 BCE). The book provides a holistic study of the topic, addressing the technology of writing, the school texts used in education, the languages of instruction, and the social and historical context of scribal life and an education in cuneiform writing. The topic of scribal education at such an early period of Mesopotamian history has never been addressed at length before. Nicholas Kraus convincingly argues that scribal education during the Sargonic period was closely tied to the administrative institutions of the Sargonic Empire and prepared a scribe to become an effective administrator.

Introduction to Classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez)
Lambdin TO. Introduction to Classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez).; 1978. Publisher's VersionAbstract

his text is designed to provide a detailed but carefully graded introduction to the grammar and basic vocabulary of classical Ethiopic. The material covered in this introduction will instruct the beginning Ethiopicist and fine tune the dedicated Semitist into the details of this important cognate language.

Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew
Mankowski PV. Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew.; 2000. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew is an in-depth examination of Hebrew words that are of Akkadian origin or transmitted via Akkadian into the Hebrew lexicon. The first book-length treatment of the subject to appear in 90 years, this study provides a detailed treatment in dictionary form of the most plausible borrowings, including so-called semantic loans or loan-adaptations. A comprehensive analysis of Hebrew phonetic imitation of Akkadian words, with special attention to the influence of the Assyrian and Babylonian dialects, yields some new information on the phonology of the donor language during the loan period. This book will be of interest to Hebraists, Assyriologists, lexicographers, and students of Semitic philology.

Amarna Studies: Collected Writings
Moran WL. Amarna Studies: Collected Writings. (Huehnergard J, Izre'el S).; 2003. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this volume are collected all of the writings Moran devoted to the Amarna letters over more than four decades, including his doctoral dissertation, which has been one of the most widely cited unpublished works in ancient Near Eastern studies. A citation index makes Professor Moran's comments on individual texts readily accessible.

Studies in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Based Upon Early Eastern Manuscripts
Morgenstern M. Studies in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Based Upon Early Eastern Manuscripts.; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This book is the first wide-ranging study of the grammar of the Babylonian Aramaic used in the Talmud and post-Talmudic Babylonian literature (henceforth: Rabbinic Babylonian Aramaic) to be published in English in a century. The book takes as its starting point the long-recognized problem of the corrupt nature of the later textual witnesses of Babylonian Rabbinic literature and seeks both to establish criteria for the identification of accurate textual witnesses and describe the grammar of Rabbinic Babylonian Aramaic. The book is both programmatic and descriptive: it lays the foundations for future research into the dialect while clarifying numerous points of grammar, many of which have not been discussed systematically in the available scholarly literature.

Following a critical survey of the currently available scholarly tools, the book considers the rôle of the Yemenite textual and reading traditions in the study of Rabbinic Babylonian Aramaic. While some previous authorities have regarded this tradition as a primary source for grammatical study of the dialect, by comparing the data of the earliest manuscripts to the forms employed in the Yemenite traditions, the present book demonstrates that the Yemenite traditions have been subject to secondary changes. Accordingly, it is concluded here that only the early eastern manuscripts preserve the dialect in its original form.

The next chapter considers the problem of linguistic variation within the corpus. It is well established that the Talmudic literature employs a wide range of alternative grammatical forms. Several explanations have been proposed for this phenomenon. Some authorities have suggested that it arises from dialectal differences, while others have proposed that it represents the use of different literary registers. An alternative explanation is that the language was altered during the course of textual transmission. This study shows that none of these explanations can account for the wide extent of the phenomenon, which is found in the best textual witnesses and in ostensibly uniform contexts. It is argued that all of proposed explanations may partially account for the interchanges but, ultimately, the lack of a literary standard leads to the use of different forms.

Syntax is often regarded as being one of the linguistic areas least affected by textual transmission. However, the early manuscripts show that Rabbinic Babylonian Aramaic employs a defined series of syntactic structures to mark the direct object. This clearly defined complimentary distribution is lost in the later textual witnesses, which use the structures interchangeably. It is thus shown that, for syntactic study, too, only a small group of textual witnesses can be regarded as reliable.

West Semitic Vocabulary in the Akkadian Texts from Emar
Pentiuc EJ. West Semitic Vocabulary in the Akkadian Texts from Emar.; 2001. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Part 1 of this study is a glossary with comparative analysis of non-normative Akkadian forms, Hittite and Hurrian words, West Semitic lexemes, and words of uncertain origin, with special attention given to the West Semitic forms. Part 2 consists of grammatical observations pertaining to the West Semitic forms, under the headings orthography, phonology, and morphology.

The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Qimron E. The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls.; 1986. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In 1986, Elisha Qimron published the first comprehensive study of the Hebrew language of the scrolls from Qumran, examining the orthography, phonology, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary of the language. The study also includes a subject and word index. Even now, over twenty years later, his work remains the standard reference on the subject. Recognizing the need to keep it available, this paperback reprint has now been issued by the Harvard Semitic Museum/Eisenbrauns.

Studies in Semitic Grammaticalization
Rubin A. Studies in Semitic Grammaticalization.; 2005. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This groundbreaking study examines the historical development of the Semitic languages from the point of view of grammaticalization, the linguistic process whereby lexical items and constructions lose their lexical meaning and serve grammatical functions. The author first provides an introduction to this process, followed by a comprehensive overview--with abundant examples from ancient and modern languages--of how it is exemplified in Semitic. Three successive chapters are devoted to in-depth studies of specific cases of grammaticalization: the definite article in Central Semitic, direct object markers across Semitic, and present tense prefixes in modern Arabic and Aramaic dialects. Drawing on evidence from many non-Semitic languages, from recent developments in the field of historical linguistics, and from traditional comparative Semitics, this book represents a major contribution to the field of comparative Semitics.

An Exodus Scroll from Qumran: 4Qpaleo Exodm and the Samaritan Tradition
Sanderson JE. An Exodus Scroll from Qumran: 4Qpaleo Exodm and the Samaritan Tradition.; 1986. Publisher's Version
SC R, EJ H. Mighty Baal: Essays in Honor of Mark S. Smith.; 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The first edited collection devoted to the study of the ancient Near Eastern god Baal. Although the Bible depicts Baal as powerless, the combined archaeological, iconographic, and literary evidence makes it clear that Baal was worshipped throughout the Levant as a god whose powers rivalled any deity. Mighty Baal brings together eleven essays written by scholars working in North America, Europe, and Israel. Essays in part one focus on the main collection of Ugaritic tablets describing Baal’s exploits, the Baal Cycle. Essays in part two treat Baal’s relationships to other deities. Together, the essays offer a rich portrait of Baal and his cult from a variety of methodological perspectives.

Non-Canonical Psalms from Qumran: A Pseudepigraphic Collection
Schuller EM. Non-Canonical Psalms from Qumran: A Pseudepigraphic Collection.; 1986. Publisher's Version
The Origins and Development of the Waw-Consecutive: Northwest Semitic Evidence from Ugarit to Qumran
Smith MS. The Origins and Development of the Waw-Consecutive: Northwest Semitic Evidence from Ugarit to Qumran.; 1991. Publisher's Version
Early Northwest Semitic Serpent Spells in the Pyramid Texts
Steiner RC. Early Northwest Semitic Serpent Spells in the Pyramid Texts.; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract

New: Seven high-resolutions scans are now available online for browsing key images of the pyramid of Unas in detail: Antechamber, North Wall (right) and West Wall | Antechamber, West Wall | Sarcophagus Chamber, East Wall | Sarcophagus Chamber, West Wall | Sarcophagus Chamber, West Gable, center | Antechamber, East Wall, upper | Antechamber, East Wall, lower

The earliest connected Semitic texts known to modern scholars are usually thought to be East Semitic texts from Mesopotamia, written in the cuneiform script. In this monograph, Richard C. Steiner deciphers Semitic texts that are even earlier--Northwest Semitic texts in hieroglyphic script that have been "hiding in plain sight" among the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom.

The Semitic texts are embedded in two series of Egyptian spells designed to protect the king's mummy against snakes. They are orthographically distinct from the rest of the Pyramid Texts, characterized by exceptional phonetic spelling reminiscent of the "group writing" used to write foreign names and texts in later times. Most editors of the Pyramid Texts have considered them unintelligible.

The Semitic and Egyptian passages in these spells are mutually elucidating. The Egyptian context contains phrases that reveal the meaning of corresponding Semitic phrases as well as clues that reveal the origin of the texts. The Semitic, in turn, helps to clarify the Egyptian, bringing a degree of cohesiveness and order to a group of spells that previously seemed like a hodgepodge. As Robert K. Ritner writes in his foreword to the monograph: "We have thus gone from a string of isolated invocations, many of them gibberish, to a coherent logically constructed, tripartite ritual with a recognizable beginning, middle, and end. This seems to me a remarkable advance."

Features of the Eschatology of IV Ezra
Stone ME. Features of the Eschatology of IV Ezra.; 1989. Publisher's Version
Eighth-Century Iraqi Grammar: A Critical Exploration of Pre-Halilian Arabic Linguistics
Talmon R. Eighth-Century Iraqi Grammar: A Critical Exploration of Pre-Halilian Arabic Linguistics.; 2003. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Arabic grammatical thinking provides one of the richest and most significant contributions of medieval Islamic sciences to the history of human civilization. For the first time, this book traces down its formation during the second century of Islam (eighth century A.D.), before the age of the famous Halil b. Ahmad and his disciple Sibawayhi. Some 240 excerpts extracted from the earliest sources of the eighth and ninth centuries create a unique database, which is then analyzed critically. Consequently a clear scheme emerges of the sophisticated grammar of this pre-Halilian era. As a result, Halil's and Sibawayhi's revolt on this tradition is considered in detail.