Divrei ben Abuya

In the Babylonian Talmud, Elisha ben Abuya was a great sage who lost his faith in God. So great was he that his and subsequent generations continued learning from him - to the extent that the authors of the Talmud needed to create a story that would serve to legitimise his teachings despite his apostasy. His lesson is a lesson for us all: that great stature is not contingent upon blind faith, nor high learning upon the observation of Torah precepts.

May 20, 2006


I've started reading an important text for my Honours work, but I'm having difficulty maintaining my interest in it. Entitled, A Search for Method: A Study in the Syntactic Use of the H-Locale in Classical Hebrew, it is a study from the 1980's that deals in depth with this particular grammatical feature. I've read the introduction and have only scratched the surface of his methodology, but now have to get through a further 250-or-so pages of his analysis. I guess that's not much. And, after all, there's no problem that caffeine can't solve.

This is, at least, the best of the thesis topics that I've alighted upon so far, so I should be pleased. My favourite one (and one which, I was told, I may wish to pursue later) was to be an analysis of disambiguation techniques in unvocalised literature. Vocalised literature (being anything with vowels and other diacritical markings) can employ subtle means of clarifying the meaning of clauses in a text. I will post up examples of this later. Unvocalised literature, on the other hand, would have to rely on things like repetition (I suspect). Genesis 40:5 and 41:7 might be two good examples of this phenomenon at work. But I don't know if any studies have been done on this, and there might not actually be anything to follow up on.


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