I had the privilege to sit in on some of the papers at the 2009 NAPH sessions on Diachrony & Biblical Hebrew. It's a fascinating topic, but it's even more fascinating as an opportunity to observe human behavior in the scholarly back-and-forth on a controversial topic where neither side has a chance at convincing the other because neither has any willingness to compromise their own positions based on any available evidence. Ahh . . . minimalists and maximalists. Scholarly apologetics. (Is that an oxymoron?) Of course, being in the middle - I would get shot at from both sides.
To a point, the historical change in Biblical Hebrew CAN be demonstrated from evidence. Dean Forbes showed that pretty convincingly in New Orleans. But, the underlying uniformity of Biblical Hebrew suggests that actually dating the texts based on the fact that historical change happened is difficult-some would say impossible. I think Ian Young, et. al., have argued a good case at least in the sense that they've drawn awareness to the problems inherent in attempting to date texts based on linguistic variation. (Ironically, my move to the center on this question was influenced by what we learned in a seminar on Linguistics & Biblical Hebrew with Dr. Miller combined with a linguistics class at UW on socio- and historical linguistics.) Below is the official call for papers issued by NAPH for their 2010 sessions.
Subject: NAPH 2010 Session at SBL Meeting: Diachrony and Biblical Hebrew
The NAPH session on Diachrony and Biblical Hebrew organized by Ziony Zevit and Cynthia Miller in 2009 will conclude with three additional sessions at NAPH 2010. While some of the presenters will be invited, we welcome paper proposals for the 2010 sessions to be held in conjunction with the SBL meeting November 20-23, 2010 in Atlanta.
The proposal should include a description of the aspect of diachrony (or language variation or stylistics) to be examined, the methodology employed, and the language data analyzed. Please send the proposals to email@example.com and to ZZevit@ajula.edu no later than February 15, 2010.
We are in conversation with several interested publishers concerning the publication of a volume on Diachrony in Biblical Hebrew with the papers from the 2009 and 2010 sessions, along with some invited papers from leading scholars of historical linguistics and language variation.
Cynthia L. Miller, Professor and Chair, Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies, 1220 Linden Drive, 1344 Van Hise Hall, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, (O): 608-262-9785, (F): 608-262-9417,firstname.lastname@example.org
Ziony Zevit, American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90077-1519, (O) 310-440-1266, email@example.com