Friday, 2 December 2022

Understanding the Masora - example 1

 As I noted last month, I have come across a new downloadable book on the Masoretic texts. I read more slowly Martín-Contreras on the Masora. It is a clear introduction. Verifying the masora is tricky to say the least. The annotator of the codex does not have the advantage of a computer and database. I can see immediately some of the examples in my online concordance. Of course, there may be other constraints that I am not seeing, but counting words of a particular form with accentuation is fully transparent on my concordance. You can see at a glance and I can verify that there is no error or omission from queries on my database,

Here is example 1 - dryness - krb 

/krb/ is a high usage root. It spells Horeb, e.g. בְּחֹרֵ֑ב in the domain of location. It is spelled with a tsere. And it spells sword, dagger, or ruins in the domain of violence. Here it is spelled with segol. E.g. בַּחֶ֔רֶב. In both these, the accent is on the first syllable of the root (excluding the preposition b). The concordance (linked above) gives exact counts for each combination of accents and vowels.

If you go to its next meaning, it is used for the verb to drain. And finally the result of draining, dryness, desert, deserted, etc. Here the accent is on the second syllable of the word and sometimes the third.

The example in the book is Judges 6:37 where the word occurs by itself. 

The masora, he tells me, indicates the word 16. But it's not the traditional 'tz (9+7). It is spelled iv (10+6). This raises another question. 

Is this a count? I wondered if the Masoretes were creating a concordance as they copied, or had such a tool already to hand. I see 9 references to /krb/ without suffix or prefix, three in the passage in Judges, vv 37, 39, 40. Then also Isaiah - twice, 25:5 and 61:4, then Genesis, Haggai, Ezekiel, Job, each having 1 occurrence. Then further down in the list sorted in word form sequence including diacritics, 5 more. Then I go back to Horeb and find the word once in the form without prefix or suffix, and 168 more as sword. Grand total for this root in this word form is 183 spread across several domains of usage and with varied accentuation.

What could '16' mean? Martín-Contreras cites Ginsburg:

According to the list in Ginsburg’s compilation, the sixteen references are: Gen. 31.40 (חֹ֖רֶב); Judg. 6.37, 39, 40; Jer. 36.30; 49.13; 50.38; Ezek. 29.10; Isa. 4.6; 25.4; 25.5, 5; 61.4; Zeph. 2.14; Hag. 1.11; and Job 30.30.

 Some of these are with specific prefixes. There is no solution but to look at these one at a time, and my surmise is that the '16' are too different to be considered as a group. 

M-C's conclusion is that these '16' are different because the tsere distinguishes Horeb from dryness. "those with segol and penultimate stress are cases of the common noun, [krb] drought, parching heat, desolation/dryness (Brown 1952), and those with tsere and stress on the ultima are instances of the proper name [krb] Horeb".

There are many more to ponder.

I have to leave this for a while since I have now moved and will be working from temporary locations for some time to come (3-6 months) as we build a new place to call home - temporarily of course, as is the case with all our places.

Thursday, 1 December 2022

The inter-verse and inter-chapter relationships of the te'amim

In 2015, I noted this post (below) that - due to the nature of blog posts - is transient, but deserves to be noted again. Wickes 1881: A treatise on the accentuation of the three so-called poetical books on the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and Job.

I have to repeat the note because Wickes is still taught and believed and I have demonstrated repeatedly that some of his claims are materially incorrect. You can even pay to read about his incorrect theories. Why would you want to learn confusion?

The scholars cannot study the accents without the music. How many of them would know that the tifha begins each of the responses to Job and that these verses are in the accents of the 21. We must correct the confusion of history with accurate and complete information. Scholarship is wonderful, but it must be subject to scrutiny. I am an old man now and not a scholar of the guild. I discovered this anomaly in the traditions through the computer program I wrote to create the music. The program (2013) 'knew' the difference between the set of accents in the 21 and the set in the 3 -- and it failed on the narrator's part until I noted the presence of an accent from the 21 in that part of the text. Then all was well with the music. No growth is possible until we see what we have done wrong.

From my archives: (lightly edited)
I am testing again the thesis that individual verses of the Bible are unrelated to each other with respect to the music (from Wickes 1881) as noted in an earlier post. Wickes writes the following: "Logically, a verse may be closely connected with the one preceding or following it; but musically and accentually no such connection exists." This a false thesis. Individual verses are clearly "musically and accentually" related over a wide range within the context of stories, books, and sections of the text. Here is another illustration that shows we should read the music of the text from the beginning.

I will give you one example from the book of Job. 

Job is a series of conversations from chapter 3 to 41. Each conversation is introduced by a phrase from the narrator. The music shows that each conversation is a response to Job. It could have been just a repetition of a standard bit of punctuation - but it is not. And the narrator (using the accents from the 21 books right in the midst of all the poetry) has ample scope for singing a suitable tone of voice as each of the three friends responds to Job (the conversations themselves being with the poetic accents of the three books).

I note also that Crowther in Studies on the Masora 2022 has missed the usage of the accents from the 21 books in the narrator's part. His claim (page 301) that the accents of the 21 are used 'up to Job 3:2, and then back at 42.7' is incomplete. All the narrator's parts use the accents of the 21. These include these verses: Job 3:1, 4:1, 6:1, 8:1, 9:1, 11:1, 12:1, 15:1, 16:1, 18:1, 19:1, 20:1, 21:1, 22:1, 23:1, 25:1, 26:1, 29:1.

Have a look. Note too how Job's initial conversation has an elaborate introduction. Yahweh's introduction in chapter 38 is quiet compared to Job's introduction in chapter 3. Then note how the narrator's introduction of Job always goes from tonic to tonic, whereas the introduction to the three friends' response always begins on the third (tifha) and descends to the tonic (silluq). There are no resting points (atnah or ole-veyored) in any of these verses. Also note that Elihu's introductions are exactly equivalent to Job's. Make of it what you will - but this is not an answer beginning on the third, rather it is more like the introduction to an addendum which Job himself might have sung.

All the chapters of Job are here in their musical form.

Elihu warns about inexperience vs experience: Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Isaiah 12 - third usage in 6 years

 Here's the snippet of Isaiah 12 as sung by the choir and congregation of St John the Divine Victoria. Thanks to Karen Coverett for extracting it from the sevice stream.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Crowther on two systems of te'amim

 I have come across a new downloadable book on the Masoretic texts. I jumped immediately to Crowther: Why are there Two Systems of Tiberian Ṭeʿamim?

(Daniel J. Crowther (PhD, University of Bristol, 2015) is an Assistant Director for Langham Scholars’ Ministry and a Research Associate of the Centre for Muslim and Christian Studies, Oxford. )

He, like Wickes, (and he appears to understand Wickes - a feat in itself) describes the music using rules about the te'amim (marks of taste). After a clear but incomplete description, he comes to no conclusion other than this:

"It seems to me intuitively sensible to take the testimony of the Masoretes more seriously when they claim to be attempting to capture an established tradition of recitation with their ṭeʿamim, not creating one through the application of an established grammar of the ṭeʿamim."

I certainly agree with him. My own posts on Wickes are not as polite or knowledgeable but I repeat a statement by Wickes who (1881 :35) complains that "these poets are not using the dichotomy consistently". And so they aren’t. They likely had not heard of it. Not one of the corrections that Wickes proposes is required for the music. The idea of continuous dichotomy should be removed from discussion. Music is subject to more nuanced shape than a hierarchy, a concept that is overused in most professions. Crowther (following Wickes) uses the word "law" as if the accents were a law unto themselves. 

But he did point out to me that in the 21 books, tifha (g or g#) always precedes the atnah (A) and the silluk (e). In contrast, in the 3 books, this restriction is not used. I admit that I hadn't noticed, though the observation is evident in the appendix to my own book, The Song in the Night. To explain it musically, the leading tone, g#, is always present in the phrase leading to the rest, and in the phrase returning to the silluq. This is not a law, but a convention. The leading tone gives the character to the phrases of the 21 books. It is a traditional augmented second in the default tone that Haïk-Vantoura uses. She is right in her mapping of the accents below the text to a modal scale. 

Scholars of the Masoretic text should start to listen to her treatise.

Scholars do not have a better explanation.

See also this later post

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

It's time for Isaiah 12 again

 The liturgy calls for Isaiah 12 as a psalm. This setting here is available. Music is linked here.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Carnival #200 almost

Jim West, longtime carnival master, has done a thorough job of carnival #200 - counting his prior month carnival as 199 - a rerun.  Well, Jim, there was another carnival 199 - but it had a ? in it. It was very limited in any case. But between the two of us, there was sort of a carnival 199 even if missed.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Sense and Sensible

 Meaning? You know how mean I think that word is. We use it to exercise control over others. We use it to reduce complexity, to narrow a reading, and to delude ourselves that we think we understand.

But what if I'm wrong and there are sensual sensible senses that speak to us in the body, that derive joy and pleasure from words - without loosing ourselves too much to - what is that word - enthusiasm.

We do become enthused - and this is good. Should we keep our heads clear and scholarly? Objective? What does that psalm say - 

תּֽוֹדִיעֵנִי֮ אֹ֤רַח חַ֫יִּ֥ים
שֹׂ֣בַע שְׂ֭מָחוֹת אֶת־פָּנֶ֑יךָ
נְעִמ֖וֹת בִּימִינְךָ֣ נֶֽצַח
11 You will make known to me a path of life,
satisfaction of gladness in your presence,
pleasures at your right hand always.
ia todiyni aork kiim
woby wmkot at-pniç
nyimot biminç nxk
tv/diy\ni ark ki\im
wby wmk\vt at pn\ic
nym\vt b/imn\c nxk

I am immediately distracted! What do I want to do with the list of roots that have similar sounding second and third letters? Several things:

  1. Explore possible sounds-like puns and word games.
  2. Determine if there is a function to the first letter as was suggested by a recent post - which I have somehow forgotten the source of.
  3. See if there are vowel similarities within a group of similar roots.

Consider the roots of this tri-colon:

  • idy - dominant gloss know - is in a group of only three roots that end in dy - The link will take you right to the spot in my post on deriving sense from the second two letters of a three letter root. You can see at the link that the three are gdy - chop, truncate, idy, and pdy retrieve. Note that /i/ being a weak letter, moves around or disappears in the various word forms that the root takes on.
  • ark - there are many roots that have rk as their second and third letters. As I study the 13 variations at the link, no particular sense springs to mind (yet) as to how the first letter of the roots might alter the significance within a usable human framework.
  • kih - interesting that we see two consecutive chets (k) in this stich. Roots ending in ih show some similarity to each other. hih is similar to kih as to be is to live. aih and dih are both raptors, birds of prey fiercely alive. xih is arid, and wih is unmindful, both the opposite of being and life.
Playing with the similar sounds from the Hebrew - maybe just nonsense.
  • you will retrieve for me a flight of raptors topyni bork aiim. (pdy for idy, brk for ark, and aih for kih).
  • you will truncate for me a rising of wild places togdyni zork xiim. (gdy - zrk - xih -- too many possibilities). zrk is not a good choice for this experiment since it is mostly used with wmw (sun) and it has come to mean shine rather than rise (as in sunrise).
Going to the section after the ole-veyored (the lesser cadence on the supertonic), the roots are 
  • wby, satisfaction, and the other roots in this form are gby, bonnet, hillock; 'tby, sink, ring; nby, bubble, ferment, xby, coloured cloth, wet; qby, defraud; rby, four, forty, four-square, and others. wby is a rich and common root. rby and wby are both used for numbers, 4 and 7 respectively. The others are far less frequently used.
  • wmk, gladness, mirth; the other roots in the group xmk, grow, sprout; qmk, flour; rmk, lance.
  • pnh, a complex root with a lot of sense but largely face to face, before, presence. The other roots are here. Which of them would take a plural in some context? 
Two odd things I wonder how to render: the feminine plural of gladness, and the direct object marker - perhaps a note of emphasis? The music is very matter of fact - not emphasizing that section at all.
Psalms 16:11 -- a path of life is angular
presence enters into rest

So can we make an alternative poem? My first cuts were dismal indeed.
qoby xmkot at-qniç -- defrauding the growth of your acquisitions
zyimot baminç rxk -- indignations in your faithfulness demolished

Interesting mechanical exercise. It could be that some roots are of a family of senses when seen together, but not all of them seem to follow such 'logic'. It could also be that some second and third letter stems are connected by the first letter such as ksh and ksd. Families of related roots - are there some, are there orphans, is there something to be learned? I don't know yet. 

The game is afoot, but I am stumbling in my first steps.