Here’s one for the Hebrews and Shebrews.
Conventional wisdom says that Early Biblical Hebrew (aka Standard Biblical Hebrew or Classical Biblical Hebrew) came first, and then Late Biblical Hebrew. But when you actually analyse the evidence, this view starts to unravel. Ian Young, Robert Rezetko, and Martin Ehrensvärd have argued very convincingly that Early Biblical Hebrew and Late Biblical Hebrew were not linear diachronic developments, but rather contemporaneous styles of Hebrew in antiquity. This means that it’s practically impossible to date a biblical text based solely on linguistic criteria. Their compelling argument can found in their two volume work, Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts, and their more recent Historical Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew. Once you “see” their argument, you can’t “unsee” it. They look at the evidence in such a logical way that it makes you wonder why it has taken Hebraists so long to see what is so obvious.
Yet many Hebraists still don’t see it. It almost feels like they’re looking at one of those pictures that have a “hidden” 3D shape (a stereogram, like this). They claim to be finding the 3D shape. And if you can’t see it, it’s because you’re not looking at the right way. Try squinting or staring beyond the page. But the irony is that the picture isn’t one of those 3D shapes! It’s just a normal 2D picture. They’ve been looking at it all wrong, and yet the real picture is there staring them in the face.
So the old and disproven paradigm persists. It seems to be dying a slow death, as evidenced by a few recent articles.
Young, Rezetko, and Ehrensvärd have clarified their position in a paper titled “Do We Really Think That Ancient Hebrew Had No Chronology“.
Robert Rezetko has also put together a few responses to recent studies working with the old paradigm. They are well worth the read:
- “Response to Fassberg What is Late Biblical Hebrew“
- “Response to Joosten Pseudo-Classicisms in Late Biblical Hebrew“
- “Response to Shin A Diachronic Study of the Language of Haggai Zechariah and Malachi“
- “Response to Rooker Characteristics of the Hebrew of the Recognized Literary Divisions of Isaiah“
- “Response to Rendsburg Late Biblical Hebrew in the Book of Haggai“
I hope scholars, especially the younger ones, start just looking plainly at the evidence instead of squinting and forcing a particular paradigm onto it.