Linguistics, Philology, and the Role of Theory
Linguistic and Philological Perspectives: Papers forming part of the 2017 and 2018 SBL Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew Seminar
Keywords:linguistic theory, philology, Biblical Hebrew
What is “philology” in contemporary research? How does it relate to linguistics? Does studying language for the purpose of reading texts legitimise a pre-theoretical approach to language analysis? Is research without an explicit theoretical undergirding (no matter how deep beneath the overt layers of argument) anything more than naive empiricism? This essay addresses a long-standing issue in Biblical Hebrew studies that has recently flared up: is a theory of language necessary for the study of Biblical Hebrew grammar? Rather than a comprehensive review of literature on the study of Biblical Hebrew, this essay is programmatic, weaving questions of discipline, theory, and praxis together to present a case for how Biblical Hebrew linguists ought to orient themselves in the process of collecting and analysing their data.
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