Rough or smooth breathing on hebrew names?

Biblical Greek morphology and syntax, aspect, linguistics, discourse analysis, and related topics
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Tim Evans
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Rough or smooth breathing on hebrew names?

Post by Tim Evans » December 19th, 2019, 10:32 pm

I've stumbled across the fact that some dictionaries use different breathing in Greek for Hebrew names, i.e. Abel is Ἅβελ in Loud and Nidia and BDAG. But its Ἄβελ in Strongs, and the "New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible".

Which is correct, or is it unclear? Is there a debate behind the decision? Is this an "older" vs "newer" dictionary thing?

Thanks!
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Rough or smooth breathing on hebrew names?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 25th, 2019, 12:09 pm

I think you have to look at this one name at a time.

For instance, take a look at this discussion of rough versus smooth breathing for Abraham's name in Greek.

With internet resources, of course, you also have to consider the possibility of errors.
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RandallButh
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Re: Rough or smooth breathing on hebrew names?

Post by RandallButh » December 26th, 2019, 6:50 am

"Rough and smooth breathings of Hebrew names" is probably above the pay-grade of Greek Professors.

So, what do I mean?

There are dense complications.
Hebrew had two kinds of `ayins, a pharyngeal and a velar voiced fricative, it had two kinds of Het's, a pharyngeal and a velar voiceless fricative.
That is why, for example, we have names like Greek Gaza while in Hebrew the name is `Aza, or Aza in French/Phoenician/TelAvivian modern Hebrew. Those double `ayins and double Hets were leveled into single `ayins and single Hets throughout the dialectical history of Hebrew. The leveling first took place in Phoenician, whose alphabet was borrowed by Hebrew and used defectively. In addition to Het and `ayin, Hebrew had a voiceless vocoid, an "h". 'H' is also problematic because it was dropping out of spoken Greek throughout its history, first in Ionic, then during the Koine. Herodutus only gets to keep his "h" in his name because he was from the Doric/spartan colony of Halicarnassus, though he chose to write in Ionic, perhaps learned in his youth in reasonably nearby Samos. Meanwhile, in the BarKochba letters we have evidence of Greek having influenced the speech of some of the Hebrew and Aramaic letter writers.

So the rough breathing in many/most cases was an etymological affair for pre-Koine Greek, but the Greeks were faced with multi-dialect problems in Hebrew during the second Temple.
Who knows what a Greek writer of the first century heard, or thought they heard, or would have written, if asked to add 'rough breathings' to their writings.

Simple answer: one might expect to use rough breathing for anything with a Het, `ayin, or he, in Hebrew, and never for alef. In that way one would distinguish אמוץ ἀμωσ from עמוס ἁμωσ. But Greek convention tends to use smooth where the `ayin did not generate a gamma, and rough where the Het did not generate a Χ. That should make Luke 3 Ἑσρωμ rough but my Textus receptus has smooth, ditto for my NA. Go figure.

The person who should weigh in on this is Ben Kantor, having recently completed a PhD dissertation on the "Secunda", Origen's transcription of the Hebrew Bible in Greek in the second column of the massive Hexapla project. But Ben is probably too busy to do a full answer here.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Rough or smooth breathing on hebrew names?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 26th, 2019, 11:59 am

RandallButh wrote:
December 26th, 2019, 6:50 am
"Rough and smooth breathings of Hebrew names" is probably above the pay-grade of Greek Professors.

So, what do I mean?
I literally laughed out loud when I saw this. Why? Because I said to myself, "Self, this is above your pay grade. Randall or somebody else needs to get this one."

And I'm glad you did... :lol:
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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