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Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 196 Reviews THE USE OF ARABIC IN BIBLICAL HEBREW LEXICOGRAPHY . By John Kaltner. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series, 28. Pp. vii + 122. Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association, 1996. Paper, $7.50. This well-researched monograph is a critical examination of several purported Arabic cognates to the Biblical Hebrew lexicon. It conclusively demonstrates that even well-known Hebraists have erred in some of their comparisons for several basic reasons. Two of the worst offenders cited by the author are Alfred Guillaume and G. R. Driver; however, other prominent scholars featured for false equations include Edward Ullendorff and the late Marvin Pope. I might add that another notorious overuser of the Arabic lexicons in his work on cognate Semitic languages has been John Gray (1913- ); (see, e.g., as typical his The Legacy of Canaan, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1957). It is somewhat surprising that his name does not appear in the book undergoing review. One of the characteristics all of the aforementioned scholars have had in common is their phenomenal productivity. The book consists of five chapters and two appendices. Chapter I, "The Problem and the Resources" (pp. 1-21), surveys the long history of the utilization of Arabic in Biblical Hebrew lexicography. Discussing this area in terms of the larger field of Comparative Semitics, Kaltner incorrectly refers to the related (so-called) Hamitic languages (p. 3). Almost all comparativists today reject the idea that Proto-Hamito-Semitic (= ProtoAfroasiatic = Proto-Af~asian) split into Proto-Semitic and Proto-Hamitic. Consequently, there is no Hamitic linguistic grouping, and other designations which use this term, such as Chado-Hamitic, have been thoroughly discredited. Let us hope that the designation "Hamitic" drops out of contemporary usage, since it is a relic of an era which displays a misunderstanding of the interrelationship of the Afroasiatic languages. An interesting section of this chapter is devoted to medieval Jewish comparative lexicography, as reflected in the work of Sa'adya Gaon, Judah Ibn Qoreish, Judah l;Iayyiij, Jonah Ibn Janatt, and Ibn Bariin. Sa'adya Gaon (882-942), probably the best-known of the aforementioned scholars, listed and commented on the hapax legomena in the Bible and also wrote a grammar of Hebrew; however, his major achievements may be his commentary on many of the books of the Bible (in Arabic) and his Arabic translation of the Bible. Since he was born in Upper Egypt, Arabic was his mother tongue. Hebrew Studies 39 (1998) 197 Reviews The author devotes a section to the field of Arabic lexicography per se ('ilm lugha) and includes a discussion of the first Arab lexicographer, alKhah1 ibn'Atunad (ca. 718-790), author of the Kitab al-'Ayn (pp. 11-12). As is well known, the Arabic dictionary tradition is the world's oldest (p. 11) after Chinese (cf. HsU Shen's Shuo Wen, first century CE), although Akkadian and Sumerian word lists predate both by many centuries. In rejecting the comparative work of others, Kaltner makes use of the following excellent dictionaries, on which he offers some background information for the non-specialist: (1) AI-Jamhara jil-Lugha of Ibn Duraid; (2) AI-Tah6fb jil-Lugha of AI-Azhari; (3) AI-SihalJ of AI-Jawhari (incorrectly translated as "The Crown of Language and the Correct [Forms] of Arabic," p. 13); (4) the Lisan AI-'Arab of Ibn M~; (5) AIQaml2s AI-MulJfC of AI-Firuzabadi; and (6) the Taj AI-'Arl2s of Al-Zabidi. He rightly cautions against the use of Hans Wehr's dictionary (A Dictionary of Modern Wrillen Arabic, edited by J. Milton Cowan, Ithaca: Spoken Language Services, 1976), since it is devoted to modem usage (although it does contain many germane classicisms and is certainly an excellent dictionary). Similar sentiments are expressed concerning J. G. Hava's Arabic-English Dictionary (Beirut: Catholic Press, 1951). He states quite rightly of the latter that it is "not a reliable source" (p. 20). Chapter 2, "Restricting the Semantic Range: Tunnel Vision" (pp. 22~6) discusses linguistic researchers who (1) focus on extremely rare or secondary meanings of an Arabic root as reported in various dictionaries, (2) rely on only one source for a meaning, or (3) do not...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 196-199
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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