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Linguistic Evidence for the Pre-exilic Date of the Yahwistic Source

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Rick Wright
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For the past few decades a growing number of scholars have attempted to overthrow the traditional Wellhausian view that the so-called 'Yahwist' or 'J' source of the Pentateuch is the oldest of the four major sources. These scholars have argued that J was composed during the exilic or post-exilic periods of ancient Israel. Their arguments have focused on the literary, historiographic, and theological characteristics of 'J'. This book attempts to re-evaluate on linguistic grounds such efforts to place the Yahwist source in the exilic or post-exilic periods.The study employs the methodology developed most prominently by Avi Hurvitz for identifying characteristic features of post-exilic Hebrew ('Late Biblical Hebrew'). This divides the language of the Hebrew Bible into three main chronological stages: Archaic Biblical Hebrew (ABH), Standard Biblical Hebrew (SBH), and Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH). Wright examines 40 features of J for which useful comparisons can be made to LBH and finds no evidence of LBH in the entire Yahwist source. Therefore it is unlikely that J was composed during the post-exilic period. Moreover since Hurvitz has shown that the exilic period was a time of transition between SBH and LBH such that late features began to occur in exilic texts, the author concludes on linguistic grounds that J was most likely composed during the pre-exilic period of ancient Israel.
Introduction(introduces the subject of the study and the approach taken to address the question)1) Morphology(characteristics pertaining to the forms of words )2) Syntax(characteristics pertaining to grammatical structure)3) Phraseology(characteristics pertaining to how ideas are expressed)4) Lexemes(early versus late words/lexemes examined in the study)5) Persian Loan-Words(discusses the issue of Persian words not present in J)6) Disputed J Source Verses(examines early versus late features in verses for which there is no consensus regarding whether they belong to the J source)

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