I just read Jo Ann Hackett and Na’ama Pat-El, “On Canaanite and Historical Linguistics: A Rejoinder to Anson Rainey,” Maarav 17:2 (2010), 173-188. Truly abnormal readers may remember that I made a few hand waving rejoinders to the Rainey myself. Rainey claimed that Hebrew should be more closely associated with Aramaic than to the Canaanite we know from Phoenician and the Amarna interference language(s). For him, this association had important implications for the origins of the people ancient Israel as well as the Hebrew language. Because they are far more systematic, Hackett and Pat-El’s remarks are far more damning. Hackett and Pat-El specifically take on Rainey’s Maarav 14:2 (2007, 67-81, paper, “Redefining Hebrew—A Transjordanian Language” a version of which he presented at the 2007 SBL meeting in San Diego. In the course of their critique they also take on Maarav itself. They also engage Rainey’s several other forays into this issue.
Perhaps the most helpful part of the Hackett/Pat El paper is their methodological discussion. They do get in quite a few zingers. For example,
Although the exact sub-division of the Semitic languages is an on-go-ing debate, papers such as Rainey’s do not move the debate forward, and it can be argued that to the extent that it is read or heard (and accepted) by untrained readers, his work is in fact a step backwards. (187)
The whole thing is rather scathing but I think on target.
Via Christopher Rollston via Jack Sasson’s agade list.