Martin Ehrensvärd


In my research I have since 1996 - in addition to various syntactic issues - been very interested in the dating of Hebrew biblical texts on the basis of language. This has lead to a book in two volumes, co-written with two colleagues, Ian Young (Sydney, Australia) and Robert Rezetko (Tucson, Arizona), Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts (London: Equinox 2008). A ten-page summary of our position is found here.

The interesting thing about this subject is that it for many people has represented the last stand against the late-dating of many of the biblical texts: "They are written in old-fashioned Hebrew, hence they must be old" (which therefore increases the likelihood that they reflect historical realities, e.g. the royal dominions of David and Solomon).

This is interesting because the linguistic evidence in no way can carry this burden. What we argue in the book, however, is not that texts written in old-fashioned Hebrew necessarily are late. Our point is that the linguistic evidence can go both ways: Linguistically it is at least just as likely that the texts are late, even though they are written in old-fashioned Hebrew. The choice between a more or less conservative linguistic style was obviously a question of genre and author, and good old-fashioned Hebrew was in use until quite late.

In the summer of 2008 we were invited to a two week online colloquium on our book. The many good discussions between us and a bunch of other scholars are available at Yahoo, starting at the bottom of this page. The colloquium ran from 19 July until August 2, 2008. You can see all contributions by clicking 'newer' at the bottom of the page.

There has been some heated discussion on the subject on Our initial introduction to our work:
And the harsh criticism that followed:
And our response to the criticism:

The chapters of my dissertation have been published in various journals, but here it is as pdf, Martin Ehrensvärd, dissertation 2002.