Joel M. Hoffman
In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language
March 06, 2019 Comments.. 674
In the Beginning A Short History of the Hebrew Language Hebrew as a language is just over years old and the story of its alphabet is unique among the languages of the world Hebrew set the stage for almost every modern alphabet and was arguably the

  • Title: In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language
  • Author: Joel M. Hoffman
  • ISBN: 9780814736906
  • Page: 431
  • Format: Paperback
  • Hebrew as a language is just over 3,000 years old, and the story of its alphabet is unique among the languages of the world Hebrew set the stage for almost every modern alphabet, and was arguably the first written language simple enough for everyone, not just scribes, to learn, making it possible to make a written record available to the masses for the first time.WrittenHebrew as a language is just over 3,000 years old, and the story of its alphabet is unique among the languages of the world Hebrew set the stage for almost every modern alphabet, and was arguably the first written language simple enough for everyone, not just scribes, to learn, making it possible to make a written record available to the masses for the first time.Written language has existed for so many years since around 3500 BCE that most of us take it for granted But as Hoffman reveals in this entertaining and informative work, even the idea that speech can be divided into units called words and that these words can be represented with marks on a page, had to be discovered As Hoffman points out, almost every modern system of writing descends from Hebrew by studying the history of this language, we can learn a good deal about how we express ourselves today.Hoffman follows and decodes the adventure that is the history of Hebrew, illuminating how the written record has survived, the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient translations, and attempts to determine how the language actually sounded He places these developments into a historical context, and shows their continuing impact on the modern world.This sweeping history traces Hebrew s development as one of the first languages to make use of vowels Hoffman also covers the dramatic story of the rebirth of Hebrew as a modern, spoken language.Packed with lively information about language and linguistics and history, In the Beginning is essential reading for both newcomers and scholars interested in learning about Hebrew and languages in general.

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    1 Blog on “In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language

    1. Ilya says:

      How do we know the Hebrew language? It is the language of the Hebrew Bible. How do we know the text of the Hebrew Bible? We have a bunch of manuscripts, the oldest (the Leningrad Codex, the Aleppo Codex, the Cairo Codex) being about 1000 years old. They are written in a consonantal script with dots indicating the vowels and aspects of the pronunciation of consonants. There have been three systems for these dots (with variations) invented in the late first millennium CE in Tiberias, in Babylon an [...]

    2. Margaret Heller says:

      A compact linguistic history of Hebrew which delves into the scholarly arguments just deep enough to be entertaining but not quite enough to be pedantic (though some might find it so). This is definitely for a fairly specific audience as I can't imagine you would get too much out of this unless you had a pretty good grasp of Hebrew and Greek, and a little Latin and German wouldn't hurt; yet if you were truly a linguist, this would be too basic, though maybe not if you didn't know too much about [...]

    3. Michael Doyle says:

      An incredibly well-researched book that lays out the history of the Hebrew language from antiquity to today, told through the lens of the invention, use of, and resuscitation of the use of vowels in the written language. By the end you'll understand why the vowel marks exist the way they do, where they really came from, why they're more than likely not the same as the vowels used in Biblical times, and why modern spoken Israeli Hebrew differs from the way the language is taught both in America a [...]

    4. Donna says:

      If read with an eye for gleaning details but not necessarily the broader picture, this is a worthwhile read. Sections were very illuminating, but the emphasis on not actually being able to define G*d was like watching a tightrope walker doing backbend on the high wire. Painful. The Ruach, Holy Spirit, and Breath explanations made the whole book worthwhile though. Glad I learned my abc's, but a novel they aren't. I recommend this book. Use it as a springboard for bigger studies. His next book aft [...]

    5. Steve Gross says:

      The author aims for a breezy style but never quite gets there.

    6. Steven says:

      I came upon this book by recommendation of Asya Pereltsvaig The short book takes us through a history of Hebrew writing showing how Hebrew was the first writing system to (partially) record vowels and make itself easier to learn and propagate. Masoretic system of complete marking of how Hebrew should sound did not arise until after 800 C.E.-1000 C.E. at least 500 years after Hebrew ceased to be a spoken language. It seems that some of the rules of pronunciation were invented by Masoretes. Howeve [...]

    7. Verner Hultman says:

      This short history of the hebrew language was interesting and held my attention. Personally, I felt there may have been a personal agenda on a couple points. Also, Joel Hoffman may have pushed a couple of the point/issues to their logical limits.The book did inform and explain mainly peculiarities of the Hebrew language. As a result of reading this book I have renewed my interest in the Hebrew language.

    8. Lauren says:

      While I disagree with many of the author's premises, Hoffman raises interesting questions and makes good points that I had never considered before. I would recommend this book to students of Hebrew who are looking to broaden their understanding of its history and the vast amount of scholarship on the subject.

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