From: Dean Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed May 26 2004 - 12:59:04 CDT
James Kass wrote at 7:57 AM on Wednesday, May 26, 2004:
>If palaeo-Hebrew and square Hebrew are the same script, then
>it couldn't be said that the Jews abandoned the palaeo-Hebrew
>script after the exile. Yet, this is what available references say
>did happen. (By available, I mean to me. Additional citations
>would be welcome.)
The word "script" is not used in most palaeographical literature (in
fact, in none that I can think of) in the same way it is used in encoding
contexts. Palaeographers, as also almost all non-encoders, use the word
"script" very loosely to encompass both minor variations in palaeography
and major ones.
Here's a modern example for, yes, Fraktur ;-)
"Unter den Nazis wurde die Verwendung der Schriften politisiert. Zunächst
wurde die Fraktur als "deutsche" Schrift gegenüber der "nichtarischen"
Such employment of the term "script" should not be used in making
[It's very hard not to use the word "script" in its non-technical sense
in palaeographical discussions - it can become tedious to keep using
words like "hand", "diascript", etc., or keep quoting "script". And so, I
too use "script" often myself in a non-encoding sense, trusting the
context will make the intended meaning clear.]
>Negative proofs are kind of hard. I've been unable to find
>anything which states that the ancient Jews considered
>Phoenician and Hebrew to be the same script. If it were
>easily found, I'd've found it already. In fairness, I've also
>tried to find anything documenting that the ancient Jews
>specifically considered Phoenician and Hebrew to be
>separate scripts. Maybe it was such a "no-brainer" (either
>way) for them that they never recorded their thoughts on
>the subject. Or, maybe nothing survived. Or, maybe
>nothing's been brought to light yet.
>Or, maybe somebody knows better?
The evidence for this of which I am aware includes the contemporaneous
use of both diascripts in ancient Judah, some of which evidence I have
mentioned in previous emails (See, in particular, the one in response to
Peter Constable at 3:06 pm yesterday.)
In addition, I might add the continued use of Palaeo-Hebrew by the
dialectically close Samaritan neighbors of the Jews to write their Bible
and their literature, even to this day. The neighboring Jews also wrote
manuscripts, coins, inscriptions, and jar labels in the same Palaeo-
Hebrew script used by the Samaritans.
Also, not apropos to ancient Jews, but ... someone mentioned much earlier
in these threads even seeing a business sign in modern Israel that is
written in Palaeo-Hebrew.
>Religious scribes had very strict rules. The Word was supposed
>to be copied *very* faithfully. Yet, older DSS appear seem to
>have been in palaeo- and newer DSS in Hebrew.
>Did the scribes think they were faithfully copying older scrolls
>when they "abandoned palaeo-Hebrew script" and made newer
>scrolls in Hebrew?
>Did they make the newer scrolls because they'd
>abandoned the older script and no-one other than scholars could
>*read* the older scrolls? Did the very strict rules begin some
>time after the older script was abandoned? Does anyone know?
The reasons given for the switch from Palaeo-Hebrew to Jewish Hebrew are
manifold and sometimes controversial.
For certain we know that:
1) Jews exiled in Babylonia adopted both the Aramaic language and Aramaic
"script", the lingua et scriptio franca of the Babylonian empire. (This
adopted Aramaic "script", also an offshoot of the Canaanite script
closely related to Palaeo-Hebrew, is now known as Jewish Hebrew script.
See my earlier attachment, Selected West Semitic Scripts, to get some
idea how close these diascripts are.)
2) Even major portions of some of the later books of the Jewish Bible,
Daniel and Ezra, were authored, not in Hebrew, but in Aramaic, and
presumably using the Aramaic script. (The earliest few extant manuscripts
of these texts, dated to a few hundred years after their authorship,
employ the same Jewish Hebrew script for both the Hebrew and Aramaic
portions of the texts.)
3) After the exile, Jews began an "official" program of translating or
paraphrasing their entire Bible into Aramaic, the Targums, still using
the Jewish Hebrew script.
3) There are Dead Sea biblical scrolls written in both Palaeo-Hebrew and
For what it's worth, I believe the newer script became dominant primarily
based on the example and influence of Daniel and Ezra, portions of whose
works in the Bible are written in Aramaic language and, presumably, script.
Dean A. Snyder
Assistant Research Scholar
Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
Computer Science Department
Whiting School of Engineering
218C New Engineering Building
3400 North Charles Street
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218
office: 410 516-6850
cell: 717 817-4897
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