Semantics of ַרע (bad) in Ancient and Mishnaic Hebrew
Foster, Philip David
From the 1960s on, linguistic theory has become increasingly integrated into the analysis of Biblical Hebrew. As a result of Biblical Hebrew being analysed as language, it has increasingly been studied as a portion of Ancient Hebrew. This study draws on theories and methods of lexical and cognitive semantics to study the meaning of ע ר) bad) in Ancient and Mishnaic Hebrew. To date, no description of ע ר has been wholly satisfying. While the various descriptions contain elements of the picture, none has accounted for both ע ר as a general term and as it appears in various semantic domains. The current study sought to redress this lack by analysing ע ר in terms of how it modifies certain discourse elements (ACTS, HUMANS, etc.) and how it functions in its semantic domains of use. Unfortunately the size of completing a full analysis with respect to these features was prohibitive and so the scope was limited at various points. The corpus selected was broadened from the usual selection of writings to include the Hebrew of the Mishnah. This represented the current consensus on the dating of Mishnaic Hebrew as a dialect spoken during the Ancient Hebrew period. However, the mishnaic corpus was limited to the Mishnah due to a lack of tagged texts available for the wider early-mishnaic (Tannaitic) corpus. The theory drawn on most heavily is that of Reinier de Blois. However, his theory and framework is not rigidly adhered to, with wider cognitive semantic theory being considered including research on semantic change. The theory and method employed by Marilyn Burton has also greatly influenced this work. In Chapter 2, the function of ע ר in modifying discourse elements is analysed (i.e. its schematic use). Detailed analysis is limited to a sample of 17 categories of use (67.6% of total occurrences). In Chapter 3, a semantic association analysis is carried out in order to map the semantic domains in which ע ר participates. This analysis demonstrated a bias towards a small set of semantic domains identified as:subdomainsַעָ שָ ר) EVILDOER), and ַןֶּ וָ א (DECEIT); ןֺוָ ע) SIN); and ַהָ עָ ר) DESTRUCTION). Use in other domains (e.g. COMMODITY) is acknowledged, but not analysed further in this work. In Chapter 4 ע ר was analysed with respect to its use in the domains mapped in Chapter 3, and with reference to a set of five words identified as being most likely to contribute significantly to an understanding of ע ר . .(iniquity (עָ וֺן and), villainy (אָ וֶּ ן ,(evil (רָ עָ ה ,(badness (רֹע ַ ,(wicked (רָ שָ ע :are words These Through the analysis, ע ר was found to be primarily a general term which provides a negative modification to the discourse element it modifies. However, ע ר may operate as the negative direction of a continuous scale, or the negative side in a two-category (good-bad) system. It can modify discourse elements that are prosodically neutral or negative. Where the element is negative, ע ר functions to foreground the relevant negative element of the thing being described. It is found in both objective and subjective usage. The semantic domain analysis uncovered the following patterns of use, previously unnoticed, which apply to ע ר :ACT→GUILT and ACT→PUNISHMENT. That is, under certain conditions ע ר may refer to the GUILT incurred or the PUNISHMENT given for ע ר ACT. Where ע ר is closely associated with the עָ שָ ר subdomain, ע ר refers to HUMANS who deserve judicial action against them. In connection with the ןֶ וָ א subdomain, ע ר is characterised by DECEIT. It is used in this way of SPEECH, ACTS, BEHAVIOURS, and EVENTS. In connection with the ןֺוָ ע domain, ע ר is linked with ACTS or BEHAVIOURS that breach divine law. The ַהָ עָ ר domain appeared likely to be an ad-hoc domain and did not contribute much to the understanding .ר ע of The analysis draws attention to certain areas for future research. Most notably the ןֶ וָ א subdomain, where the partial domain analysis suggested some significant departures from the previous description of ןֶּ וָ א .The understanding of the ַןֺוָ ע domain would also profit from further study. In addition to these areas, further research on ע ר itself would be beneficial to extend the scope of the current work and verify the findings or nuance them further.