Kaspars Ozolins Profile picture
Research Associate at @Tyndale_House. Purchased by him who was crushed for my iniquities (Isa 53:5).
4 Aug
THREAD: Long vowels in Latvian and Estonian loanwords

The wry observation has sometimes been made that Latvian sounds like an Estonian speaking Lithuanian. There may be more to this than meets the eye. Image
Of course, Latvian is famously midway between its two Baltic neighbours in more ways than merely geography.

Lithuania has deep historical connections to Poland, while Estonia has its links with Finland. Latvia is kind of in-between.
It may in fact be the the most "Baltic" of the three countries. The saying goes that a Latvian, upon being faced with a fork in the road, decided after much thought to take both routes.
Read 18 tweets
20 Jul
THREAD: Kingship in Israel and the rejection of the LORD’s anointed

In 1 Samuel 9:16, the LORD says to Samuel: ‘Tomorrow about this time [כָּעֵ֣ת ׀ מָחָ֡ר] I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anount him to be prince over my people Israel.
He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines [וְהוֹשִׁ֥יעַ אֶת־עַמִּ֖י מִיַּ֣ד פְּלִשְׁתִּ֑ים]. For I have seen my people [כִּ֤י רָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־עַמִּ֔י], because their cry has come to me [כִּ֛י בָּ֥אָה צַעֲקָת֖וֹ אֵלָֽי].’
One senses echoes of the Exodus here, and God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt:

• Exod 3:7a: ‘Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people [רָאֹ֥ה רָאִ֛יתִי אֶת־עֳנִ֥י עַמִּ֖י] who are in Egypt…’
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25 Jan
THREAD: Meditations on marriage metaphors in Ruth

The book of Ruth is, of course, a story about a beautiful marriage. But even before the courtship and the wedding and the important genealogy at the end, we find interesting language that is strikingly reminiscent of Genesis 2:24
That important verse reads:

'Therefore a man shall leave [יַֽעֲזָב] his father and his mother and hold fast [וְדָבַ֣ק] to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.'
The verb עזב can be quite strong in force. For example, Joseph leaves behind [וַיַּעֲזֹ֤ב] his garment as he flees from Pharaoh's wife's sexual advances. Countless times, Israel is depicted abandoning the LORD, for example in Judg 2:12 [וַיַּעַזְב֞וּ], and going after other gods.
Read 24 tweets
15 Jan
THREAD: Who is Beelzebul?

In Matthew 10:25, Jesus hints that he, the master of the house, will be called Beelzebul, even as his disciples will be maligned.

The Greek word Βεελζεβούλ has a variant spelling, namely Βεελζεβούβ (also seen in the Vulgate Beelzebub).
At Matthew 12:24, we are given the identity of this personage by the Pharisees, who state that Beelzebul is the 'prince of demons'.

This view was common in Second Temple Jewish circles, as can be seen by various non-biblical texts.
For example, a certain Aramaic magic incantation formula (4Q560) found among the Dead Sea Scrolls appears to mention בעל] זבב] (see the image below).

Notice that this spelling matches the alternate variant we find in the New Testament.
Read 10 tweets
8 Jan
THREAD: What is Ugaritic?

Many of my threads involve Ugaritic texts, but I thought I might provide a brief introduction to the uninitiated.

If you're at all interested in the Hebrew Bible, I believe you should take some interest in the field of Ugaritic studies.
The WHAT: The terms Ugarit and Ugaritic refer to a Late Bronze Age (LBA) city-state and its people and language. This small kingdom flourished about 13 centuries before Christ, until it was destroyed along with many other cultures in the Late Bronze Age collapse.
The Late Bronze Age collapse was a series of catastophic events around 1200 BC which led to the destruction of many city states and kingdoms in the eastern Mediterranean region. Scholars still debate the exact mix of conditions and peoples which precipitated such upheval.
Read 24 tweets
11 Dec 20
THREAD: Latin vowels are interesting.

One of the first rules students of Latin learn is its simple accentuation system. The default stress is penultimate:

for-tū́-na, Rō-mā́-nī, a-mā́-mus

...unless the syllable is short, in which case stress the antepenult:

As an Indo-European language, Latin inherited a rather different accentual system, which was based on pitch and was mobile, as far as we can tell.

But in between the two systems, Latin went through a different intermediate phase: everything was stressed on the first syllable.
That's right. Archaic Latin had the stress system of the Germanic languages, Finnish, and Latvian (!).

How do we know this?

When we compare the vowel system in other archaic IE languages with that of classical Latin, we notice vowel changes in all but the initial syllable.
Read 11 tweets
10 Dec 20
Now, a session devoted to ongoing work in the critical editions of Samuel-Kings.

Craig Morisson, who is working in place of the late Stephan Pisano on BHQ Samuel presents on the role of the younger versions (Peshitta, Targums, and Vulgate) in the edition.

Next up is Guy Darshan, representing The Hebrew Bible, A Critical Edition (HBCE).

The HBCE is unique in OT textual criticism in its attempt to reconstruct and provide an eclectic text. (I have some concerns about this approach.)
Darshan offers some critique of BHS, whose apparatus is incomplete in many places (for example, several good DSS readings are absent). However, BHS was completed only when data from Qumran was beginning to become available to scholars.
Read 10 tweets
9 Dec 20
Now onto linguistics and biblical interpretation. @michaelgaubrey presents on the divergent senses of a familiar verb.

He provides a very interesting chart here with how various translations deal with λύω.
As a thought experiment, consider a child’s gradual acquisition of a schematic network for ‘tree’ and various other lexemes which are slotted in.
Read 6 tweets
9 Dec 20
@K_L_Phillips now presenting on shorthand Masoretic manuscripts in the Taylor-Schechter collection.

A subset of these provide only the accented syllable (and sometimes only the first consonant of that syllable).
In the 1970s, Revell argued that these were Masoretic tools for the preservation of the accent system.
Read 4 tweets
8 Dec 20
Top scholars of the Homeric, Hebrew Bible, Qur'anic, Vedic textual traditions now inquiring of each other's work over Zoom, including the current state of development of digital tools such as optical character recognition.


#SBLAAR2020 Image
@libbieschrader asks about accessing funding for other traditions (beside the NT), as well as applying the CBGM to different textual corpora.

Although there are many similarities (as I've noted), in other respects the various textual traditions really have unique challenges.
The CBGM, for example, is specifically designed to tackle a highly contaminated manuscript tradition.

• The Hebrew Bible tradition instead needs to adjudicate between the MT and various versions.
• For the Tibetan tradition, contamination is a feature, not a bug!
Read 4 tweets
8 Dec 20
Signe Cohen now discussing the textual transmission of the Indic Vedas (a tradition I studied during my doctoral programme). For those Hebrew Bible text-critics complaining about the gap between our earliest manuscripts and the 'Ausgangstext', note the slide.

#SBLAAR2020 Image
Reliable parallel reading and oral traditions (à la HB ketiv/qere) exist in other textual corpora, such as the Vedas. (This is confirmed by comparative-historical linguistic investigation into the nature of these archaic Indo-European texts.) Image
One moral of this story (as
has argued): many ancient textual traditions are, on the whole, generally well-transmitted.

Read 4 tweets
3 Nov 20
THREAD: 'Shins' in PNs and MPs

There's a long section at the beginning of 1 Chronicles that contains a wealth of genealogies and names. Sometimes it can feel tedious reading these, but great payoffs are to be found by studying these passages in detail.
In this thread, I'd like to highlight interesting etymological aspects of select names (PNs) and their Masoretic notes (MPs). The details are often fascinating, and sometimes quite significant.
The beginning of chapter 7 features a familiar name: Issachar (יִשָׂשכָ֗ר). You may have remembered that this name belongs with one of a select few words (along with the Tetragrammaton, the third person pronouns in the Pentateuch, and the word for Jerusalem).
Read 21 tweets
3 Sep 20
THREAD: Psalm 119 and the Hebrew Alphabet

Psalm 119 is famously the longest chapter in the Hebrew Bible and a beautiful acrostic featuring each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (8 verses x 22 = 176 verses in total).
In the Great Psalms Scroll (11Q5) each 'stanza' is set apart with an extra ruled line. Notice the paleo Hebrew script used to write the divine name YHWH in the top left of the image.
Beginning Hebrew students are taught early on that, although there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, one of the letters, namely ש, has two values (called 'śîn' and 'šîn'), distinguished by the Masoretes with a single dot (שׂ and שׁ, respectively).
Read 24 tweets
1 Jun 20

Greek personal pronouns and the phonological triumph of iotacism in Greek
The peculiar phenomenon in Greek historical phonology called "iotacism" is the centuries-long process whereby the following Greek phonemes eventually merged into a single sound:

ι, ει, η, υ, υι, οι > /i/
This facet of modern Greek phonology is also a big factor in its being discouraged as a method of pronunciation of ancient Greek (a method that modern Greek speakers employ, as do I).

Why? Many critical words in Ancient Greek end up sounding identical with modern pronunciation.
Read 11 tweets
23 May 20
THREAD: Masoretic Scribal Mnemonics

There are thousands of scribal notes in the great Masoretic codices produced a thousand years ago. How in the world was a scribe to perform statistical counts prior to the advent of computers and Bible software?
As an example, Judges 17:1 records that the pausal form of the word 'Ephraim' אפרים occurs four times in the entire Hebrew Bible. Pausal forms in the Hebrew Bible were often accompanied by a slightly different pronunciation, indicating a syntactic 'pause' in the thought flow.
In the case of 'Ephraim', this amounts to a difference of one vowel (or, a single stroke: qāmeṣ on the left below vs. pataḥ on the right). There are no fewer than 180 occurrences of the word 'Ephraim' in the Bible.
Read 8 tweets
31 Dec 19
It is well-known that the Masoretes worked in the latter centuries of the first millennium to produce (among other things) a system of accents to indicate syntactic/logical disjunction in the text of the Hebrew Bible.

But how far back does this tradition itself go? A thread...
Students of the Hebrew Bible usually ignore the many extraneous little accents in the text beside the nequddot (vowel signs), and indeed, much of the system is arcane and complicated. But a few accents are quite important for exegesis, and can often assist in reading Hebrew.
An overview/review of significant accents:

• silluq + soph pasuq: This most important pair of signs is used to divide the text into verses. A vertical line (silluq) is placed under the accented syllable of the last word in the verse, accompanied by two dots (soph pasuq).
Read 18 tweets
30 Oct 19
Some brief thoughts on @DrPJWilliams' recent @UnbelievableJB debate with @BartEhrman.

I've listened to the debate two times now, and found it to be quite fascinating. Both debate partners were eloquent and their differences were clearly laid out.
• On methodological approaches:

Ehrman took Pete to task on the issue of theological presuppositions. The issue is the question of ultimate authorities. On what basis should the Scriptures be believed? If they are from God, then they ought to be trusted on their own authority.
Modern critical scholarship attempts to do history with documents that purport to come from God, yet in the name of objectivity, tries to ignore this epistemological elephant in the room. It's worth quoting at length the Westminster Standards on this point.
Read 17 tweets
3 Oct 19
THREAD: The surprising amount of historical content contained in the Bible.

Christians and Jews are famously ‘people of the Book’, namely the Bible. Of course, many nations and religions possess their own epic texts, which are often quite lengthy in their own right.
It can be an interesting exercise to compare these in terms of absolute length.

According to an Accordance Bible Software search, the Hebrew Bible (BHS) contains 425,185 words in total. For the New Testament, the @Tyndale_House Greek New Testament contains 138,213 words.
How do these 563,398 words compare to other ancient literature?

• The Epic of Gilgamesh (Babylonian; 2nd millennium B.C.): approx. 13 thousand words (English translation)
• The Iliad (ancient Greek; 8th century B.C.): 128,687 words
Read 27 tweets
14 Jun 19
Thread: The dreaded Greek principle parts. Learners of biblical Greek are often daunted by the stems they must memorise in order to recognise basic distinctions in tenses.
Just taking principle parts I (present) and III (aorist) as an example, there seems to be no logic at work between κλεπτ- ‘steal’ (I) and κλεψ- (III), on the one hand, and φυλασσ- ‘guard’ (I) and φυλαξ- (III), on the other.
Very frequently, the stem changes involve consonants, for example, the doubling of lambda: βαλλ- ‘throw’ (I) vs. βαλ-. Other times the changes can only be seen in the vowels of the stem: e.g., μαιν- ‘be mad’ and ξηραιν- ‘dry up’ (I) vs. their aorist counterparts μαν- and ξηραν-.
Read 10 tweets
23 Apr 19
How do you order chips at an Israeli fast food restaurant? The answer reveals fascinating and humourous insights into the relationship between modern Hebrew and the biblical language it stems from (HT to @JamesBejon for a fascinating lead).
A perusal of the Israeli McDonald's website gives you several options for sizes. Two should be familiar to almost any student of biblical Hebrew: קטן 'small' and גדול 'large'. (Nota bene: Israelis eat 'chips', not American ‘fries'.)
But what if you need something in between in size? Ask for צ׳׳פס רגיל. No, the adjective isn't a borrowing from English 'regular' or Latin 'regula'. It's from רגל 'to be accustomed to', itself a denominative from רֶגֶל 'foot'. ('to go about frequently' < *'to go about on foot’).
Read 4 tweets
21 Apr 19
Χριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη! "Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed!" (IPA: /xrisˈtos anˈesti/ /aliˈθos anˈesti/). This is how modern Greeks greet one another on Easter. Yet you will find no modern Greek verb from which ανέστη could be derived.
A search in the #THGNT reveals that this exact verb form (with smooth breathing: ἀνέστη) occurs no fewer than 14 times in the New Testament, written in ancient Koine Greek. Interestingly, the contexts that this verb occurs in are not directly related to resurrection.
In Luke 4:16, Jesus stood up (ἀνέστη) to read in the synagogue. In John 11:31, the Jews observed that Mary rose quickly (ἀνέστη) and went out (presumably to the tomb). Even in death-to-life contexts, ἀνέστη is often separate from the actual resurrection.
Read 11 tweets