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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 144 Reviews "An Evaluation of the Proper Names from Ebla from a West Semitic Perspective: Pantheon Distribution According to Genre," Eblaite Personal Names and Semitic Name-Giving. Papers of a Symposium Held in Rome July 15-17, 1985 Archivi Reali di Ebla, Studi, vol. 1 [Rome, 1988], pp. 119-151.) But a realization that the problem is not one of black-andwhite simplicity, a recognition that Hebrew religion had a history (i.e., an evolution), and a willingness to deal straightforwardly with the data are necessary prerequisites to undertaking the study. Dennis Pardee University ofChicago Chicago, IL 60637 QOHELETH'S LANGUAGE: RE-EVALUATING ITS NATURE AND DATE. By Daniel C. Fredericks. Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Studies 3. pp. 301. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen. 1988. Qoheleth is undoubtedly one of the most peculiar and perplexing books of the Bible. The contradictory statements and unorthodox if not heretical views expressed in it have given rise to many questions about the personality and historical time of its author. The great majority of scholars date Qoheleth in the late biblical period; indeed. many hold it to be one of the latest compositions in the entire QT. The considerations upon which this conclusion is based relate to fonn (language) as well as content (concepts and beliefs), both of which. in the prevailing view. exclude Solomonic authorship of the extant version of the book. It is to the linguistic aspect of this complex problem that the book here under consideration is devoted. Fredericks seeks to challenge the- widely held opinion regarding the lateness of Qoheleth·s language; to demonstrate his point. he proposes "to re-examine the evidence and the underlying premises" (p. 24) of the entire linguistic issue. He presents his views and ideas in seven chapters headed "Introduction"; "Previous Approaches to the Language of Qoheleth"; "General Methodological Concerns"; "Grammatical Comparisons"; "Lexical Comparisons"; "Conclusion"; and "Implications for Qoheleth Research." The book has a bibliography and two indexestopical and lexical. Fredericks' book is based on an extensive analysis of the linguistic material ; it offers an instructive evaluation of the main schools dominating the Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 145 Reviews research and it includes a rich bibliography (including publications in modem Hebrew, without which no serious research into the history of the Hebrew language is possible today [cf. Rooker 1988]). All this is, on the whole, well presented. Noteworthy in particular is Fredericks' criticism of various theories and assumptions adopted by different scholars in previous years; indeed, many of his methodological remarks in this regard, scattered throughout the book, may be accepted without reservation. Certain aspects of his own research, however, may equally be challenged. Rather than attempting to enter into the entire range of the complex problems discussed by Fredericks, I will limit myself to some remarks on a few selected issues of particular interest. Fredericks is undoubtedly correct in his basic argument that "Qoheleth is the only extant Hebrew work of its kind, and one might expect its language to reflect a certain degree of singularity" (p. 28). This "singularity" may, indeed, account for the existence in Qoheletb-a unique, reflective, (semi-) philosophical composition-of not a few linguistic elements unparalleled in the rest of the QT. Consequently, the absence of these elements from the classical writings need not necessarily be interpreted as an indication of lateness; such linguistic features, the argument goes, are not likely in the first place to make their appearance in classical biblical literature, owing to the generally non-scholastic nature of its contents. Although this line of reasoning is essentially legitimate and should not be dismissed off-band, it cannot be applied indiscriminately to each and every linguistic "singularity" of Qoheleth; in fact, it is nothing more than a working hypothesis. The real issue, then, is not whether a theoretical possibility exists that Qoheleth's language is pre-exilic (either reflecting some forgotten dialect or preserving the remains of a particular literary genre unattested in our biblical records). Rather, the question is whether the actual philological analysis of the extant biblical text of Qoheleth substantiates the thesis that the language here being studied is to be classified as "preexilic Hebrew." Fredericks' answer cannot be considered...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 144-154
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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