Counting and Weighing: On the Role of Intuition in Philology and Linguistics, with Some Thoughts on Linguistic Comments by R. E. Friedman in The ExodusI think that if comparative philology could establish a decisive diachronic typology of Biblical Hebrew with anchored absolute dates, it would have by now. The discussion would basically be over and we would just be mopping up the details. But the situation seems to be more complicated. That is perhaps not surprising, given the complicated (and still poorly understood) history of the transmission of the Hebrew Bible.
The intuition of established scholars often holds them back from appreciating revolutionary advances in the understanding of how the biblical texts evolved and how to view their language in that context. Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shifts helps elucidate what is currently going on in our field. We use Richard Friedman’s new book on the exodus as an example of the old paradigm and juxtapose it with the emerging paradigm that is founded on more robust data collection and analysis.
See Also: An Unsettling Divide in Linguistic Dating and Historical Linguistics
Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts
Unhistorical Hebrew Linguistics: A Cautionary Tale
A Very Tall “Cautionary Tale”: A Response to Ron Hendel
By Martin Ehrensvärd
Faculty of Theology
University of Copenhagen
with collaboration by
Radboud University Nijmegen & University of Sydney
Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
University of Sydney
That said, I find appeals to Kuhn's model of paradigm shift almost always to be unpersuasive. Everyone just imagines that they are part of the new paradigm and their opponents are stuck in the old one. Then the confirmation bias of both sides makes them see only the evidence that their paradigm is the shift.
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