Some problems of the Hebrew verbal system with particular reference to the use of the tenses

Hughes, James Aiken (1962) Some problems of the Hebrew verbal system with particular reference to the use of the tenses. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This dissertation is divided into two chapters: the first chapter deals with some problems of the Hebrew tenses; the second chapter is a study on the principal uses of the Infinitive Absolute. Chapter I: The Tenses. After an exhaustive survey primarily devoted to the uses of the simple Imperfect and the Perfect with waw in past time and the simple Perfect in future time in the prose sections of the Old Testament, we have reached the following conclusions: 1. Both tense forms express the action indefinitely (i.e. without regard to progress or completion), in a way comparable to the Greek aorist tense. Hence we oppose the time-honoured theory which asserts that the Perfect denotes completed action and the Imperfect incomplete action. The distinction in form can be explained not by verbal use in Hebrew (apart from the Perfect of stative verbs) but by positing an original distinction (probably a stative force for the gatil form and an active force for the yaqtul form) which became obliterated when the gatil (gatal) form gathered active meaning. 2. All the Imperfects in past time are vestiges of an old preterite tense of the preformative type (which was found in two forms: yagtulu and yagtul). 3. All the Perfects in future time are survivals from the period when the old afformative verb gatil (gatal) was employed in future situations. 4. Particles and other elements (particularly a demonstrative element, or at least an element of deictic origin) are influential in verbal usage. In other words, an Imperfect occurs in past time not to denote the incompletion or continuance of an action but because it is in construction with a particle and/or other elements. The particle and the verb constitute a stereotyped syntactical arrangement. The preteritive use of the Imperfect is not restricted to instances with waw consecutive and other particles such as 'az and terem: additional particles are also used with the Imperfect in a preterite sense. Similarly, a Perfect occurs in future time not to denote the certainty of the occurrence of to action but because it is in stereotypic construction with other elements. The futuristic use is not limited to cases with x-raw consecutive: other particles are also used with the Perfect in a straight (aoristic) future sense. In the light of these statements, the time of the action (in the case of both tenses) is indicated by factors outside the verb form itself. 5. The Perfect with waw consecutive in past time is used like the Imperfect, so it likewise is a preterite tense. The Perfect with waw copulative is of course also a preterite, but its force is not a matter of dispute. Chapter II: The Infinitive Absolute. Our research was concerned principally with the adverbial uses of this verbal noun. It is our impression that some of these usages have been misunderstood. For example, when an Infinitive expressing movement (such as halok "going") follows a verb of the same root, this Infinitive extends in space the verbal, action, i.e. it denotes a continuation of the verbal ideas "he went on." The term "continuation" signifies a mere extension of the actions it suggests neither duration (implied to the term ''continuance") nor uninterruption (implied in the term "continuity"). Also, when there are successive Infinitives, one a verb of movement and the other a verb of non-movement (as in I Samuel 6:12, "And they went, going arid lowing (Weg, the former is not to be viewed as modifying the latter ("lowing on"). Rather it modifies the main verb ("they went on") which is from the same root aid is also a verb of movement. The Infinitive "lowing," a verb of non-motion, simply denotes the attendant circumstance: "they went on, lowing." If on the other hand both Infinitives are verbs of movement (as in Genesis 8:3, "And the waters returned from upon the earth, going (halok) and returning (wasob)), the first modifies the second and denotes an extension in space of the one action in progress: "And the waters returned, going on back." In fine, it should be mentioned that the idea of "extension" can relate to verbs of non-motion (as in Jeremiah 23:17, "The ones who say saying (amor)," i.e. who say on), but in such cases it is a non-spatial extension.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: John BD Mauchline
Keywords: Linguistics
Date of Award: 1962
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1962-72453
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 May 2019 15:12
Last Modified: 24 May 2019 15:12
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72453

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