Cian Power

The Significance of Linguistic Diversity in the Hebrew Bible

Language and Boundaries of Self and Other

[Die Bedeutung der sprachlichen Vielfalt in der Hebräischen Bibel. Sprache und Grenzen des Selbst und des Anderen.]

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Cian J. Power explores ideas about linguistic diversity from the Hebrew Bible, including Hebrew and other ancient languages, like Aramaic. He argues that different ideas are linked to historical changes and show a concern for ethnic, religious and other boundaries.
Cian J. Power explores how the biblical authors viewed and presented a fundamental human reality: the existence of the world's many languages. By examining explicit references to this diversity – such as the ambivalent account of its origins in the Tower of Babel episode – and implicit acknowledgements that included the use of strange-sounding speech to portray alien peoples, he illuminates ideas about Aramaic, Egyptian, Akkadian, and other ancient languages. Drawing on sociolinguistics, Power detects a consistent link between language and – ethnic, political, religious, and divine/human boundaries, and argues that changing historical circumstances are key to the Bible's varying attitudes. Furthermore, the study's findings regarding the biblical authors' ideas about their own language and its importance challenge our very notion of Hebrew.
Survey of contents
Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: The Language of Languages in the Hebrew Bible
2.1 Words Meaning »A Language« in the Hebrew Bible
2.2 Naming Languages: Glottonymy in the Hebrew Bible
2.3 Expressing Foreign Language: לעז, »Speaking Unintelligibly« (Ps 114)
2.4 Chapter Summary

Chapter 3: The Past and Future of Linguistic Diversity
3.1 The Origins of Linguistic Diversity
3.2 The Future of Language: The Religious Community of Yahweh
3.3 A Divine Language? The Unknown Speech of Ps 81:6
3.4 Chapter Summary

Chapter 4: The Representation of Linguistic Difference through Style-Switching
4.1 Style and Switching in Sociolinguistics
4.2 Style-Switching in the Hebrew Bible to Represent Linguistic Difference
4.3 Case Studies
4.4 Style-Switching and the Conceptualization of Linguistic Diversity
4.5 Chapter Summary

Chapter 5: Code-Switching: Jeremiah's Message to the Idolaters and the Rabshakeh Episode
5.1 Jeremiah 10:11: An Aramaic Message for Idolaters
5.2 Aramaic and Judaean in the Speech of the Rabshakeh (2 Kgs 18//Isa 36)
5.3 Sennacherib's Message in 2 Chronicles 32
5.4 Chapter Summary

Chapter 6: The Invasion of the Alloglot Nation
6.1 Jer 5:15
6.2 Deut 28:49
6.3 Isa 28:11
6.4 Isa 33:19
6.5 Ezek 3:5–6
6.6 The Alloglot-Invader Theme in Narrative? The Case of the Rabshakeh
6.7 Dynamics of the Alloglot-Invader Theme
6.8. History of the Tradition
6.9 Barbarity
6.10 Chapter Summary

Chapter 7: Translation, Bilingualism, and Normative Language Ideology in the Books of Esther, Daniel, and Ezra-Nehemiah
7.1 High Relative Frequency of References to Linguistic Diversity
7.2 Translation and Interpretation
7.3 Bilingualism in Daniel and Ezra
7.4 Normative Language Ideology
7.5 Chapter Summary

Chapter 8: Conclusion
8.1 Review
8.2 Diachronic Considerations
8.3 The Encounter with Empire
8.4 The Biblical Authors' Understanding of Their Own Language
8.5 Avenues for Future Research

Cian Power Born 1987; 2015 PhD, Harvard University; 2016−18 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Uppsala University; currently lecturer in Ancient Hebrew Language at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford.


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