Article

The Hebrew Language

Pablo-Isaac Halevi (Kirtchuk)

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780199280322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199280322.013.0020

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 The Hebrew Language

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This article discusses the revival of Hebrew, linguistic characterization, typology, the study of Hebrew, the Muslim world in the first centuries of the Hegira, Hebrew among the Karaites, and the role of Hebrew in the modern era. The term ‘Hebrew’ designates a language which has been the Jewish people's linguistic vehicle of cult, culture, and communication. Hebrew ceased to be spoken in the third century ce and persisted only in a written form. From the third century onwards Hebrew continued to be used for juridical, intellectual, philosophical, poetic, and liturgical purposes but not for daily oral communication. In Muslim Spain, written Hebrew acquired some new characteristics: it is Medieval Hebrew (MdH). At the turn of the twentieth century it became anew the mother tongue of an ever-increasing population.

Keywords: Hebrew language; Israel; Jewish communication; Medieval Hebrew; Karaites; Muslim Spain

Article.  11384 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies

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