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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Semantics of Blessing and Cursing in Ancient Hebrew
Aitken, J. K.

Leuven: Peeters, 2007 pp. xvi + 306. xvi + 306

Series Information
Ancient Near Eastern Studies Supplement, 23

Description: Blessings and curses represent complex social and theological phenomena, and challenge our linguistic and conceptual understandings of the society in which they are used. This volume gathers together the semantic information for the words used in ancient Hebrew (including inscriptions, Ben Sira and Qumran) for the field of 'blessing and cursing'. Since semantics must take into account the context in which the words are used, Part 1 surveys different approaches to the understanding of blessing and cursing in Israelite religion and society, and the anthropological and linguistic approaches taken in interpreting them. The relevance of these approaches to a semantic study is noted, and a summary of the second part of the volume is given. Part 2 is a detailed presentation of the data for each word, including discussion of the root, morphology, translations in the ancient versions, position within the semantic field and scholarly literature. The aim is to provide as full a treatment as possible for a semantic interpretation of the field. The volume has been produced as part of the international project, the Semantics of Ancient Hebrew Database.

Subjects: Methods, Linguistics, Hebrew

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Review by Yael Avrahami
Published 7/5/2009
Citation: Yael Avrahami, review of J. K. Aitken, The Semantics of Blessing and Cursing in Ancient Hebrew, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2009).

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