Re: New contribution

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Sat May 01 2004 - 10:28:38 CST

On 29/04/2004 20:03, Dean Snyder wrote:

> ...
>Just a few pertinent quotes from one respected West Semitic scholar will
>illustrate the point:
>"Three alphabetic scripts which evolved from a common ancestor [Proto-
>Canaanite] were used in Syria-Palestine in the first millenium B.C.:
>Phoenician, Hebrew and Aramaic." p 53
>"In inscriptions of the tenth century, Phoenician, Hebrew and Aramaic
>scripts are indistinguishable." p 89
>"It should be remembered that, since the three scripts evolved from a
>common ancestor [Proto-Canaanite], the development of some letter forms
>is almost inevitable." pp 99 & 100
>Joseph Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet - An Introduction to West
>Semitic Epigraphy and Palaeography, Brill, 1982
Naveh may be well respected, but he seems to be thoroughly confused and
confusing here - although perhaps the ambiguities are resolved in
context not quoted here. When he lists "Hebrew" on p.59, is he referring
to Paleo-Hebrew, which is essentially identical to Phoenician? Or is he
referring to the Aramaic square characters which have commonly been used
to write Hebrew since the latter part of the first millennium B.C., and
which have as far as I know always been essentially identical (at any
point of time) to the Aramaic square characters used to write Aramaic?
In either case, it seems clear to me that what Naveh is describing is
not three scripts, but two - each of which developed over many
centuries. There are some other Semitic scripts from this period, but
they are not Phoenician, Hebrew or Aramaic.

It seems to me that Naveh, like Birnbaum, is trying (perhaps for
nationalistic reasons) to claim the existence of a distinct Hebrew
script, which earlier resembled Phoenician and later resembled Aramaic.
This simply doesn't fit the evidence, which is rather for a switch from
using Phoenician (or Old Canaanite) script to using Aramaic script -
although both scripts were used in parallel for a time, but without

Someone mentioned "Turkish script". This would be rather like trying to
define a Turkish script which is similar to Arabic until the 1920's and
then suddenly became similar to Latin script!

Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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