The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.182  Monday, 7 May 2012

From:        Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 6, 2012 7:11:37 PM EDT

Subject:     Re:  Hebrew Verbs 


Hannibal Hamlin writes:


>Others on the list with Hebrew less rudimentary than mine will no doubt 

>be able to answer with more precision, but, yes, it is my understanding 

>that Hebrew does not have tense in the same way European languages 

>do. Hebrew verbs have forms designating complete or incomplete action. 

>In terms of Exodus 3:14, the result is that while the Geneva translation is 

>correct, it is also reductive, since one might translate equally accurately 

>using different English tenses—I am be what I will be, etc. One implication 

>is that God’s self-description—not really one, let alone a name—includes 

>eternal immutability—was, is, will be.


>My point in the Blackwell’s “Shakespeare and the Bible” piece was that 

>Iago’s “I am not what I am” is a demonic parody of Exod. 3:14, an 

>expression of utter vacuity in contrast to God’s eternal plenitude.


>If I’ve erred or muddled, expert Hebraists please clarify.


For those who can’t get enough of Harold Bloom, here’s 44 minutes more of Bloomie on Shakespeare. About ten minutes into his talk, he discusses the ‘true’ meaning of EXODUS 3:14.





Joe Egert


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