Karaite manuscript (was: Phetsarat font, Lao unicode)

From: John Hudson (john@tiro.ca)
Date: Thu Jul 12 2007 - 21:54:58 CDT

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    re. http://www.tiro.com/John/karaite.jpg

    Philippe Verdy wrote:

    > This looks like an interlinear annotation added after the initial
    > composition in Arabic without them. I think that true Arabic authors would
    > have used Arabic pointing if they had needed it...

    It's not in Arabic. It's in Hebrew, written in Arabic script.

    > (they did not because they
    > know the language by context, and the added annotations seem to be added
    > there only to help Semitists to transliterate the original Arabic text
    > correctly to Hebrew or other scripts, or for epigraphic, palaeographic and
    > compared etymological studies within Semitic texts).

    This is not a document annotated at a later date by semiticists, this is a 10th century
    AD Karaite manuscript of the book of Exodus, now at the British Library. I was thrilled to
    see it on display at the _In the beginning_ exhibition in Washington DC when I was
    attending the SBL conference last year. Prior to that I had only seen black and white

    The bleed-through from the reverse of the pages makes this manuscript look messier than it
    is. My guess, based on the positioning, is that the red marks were written first. The
    green ink has fared less well, making those marks look older, but they are positioned
    around the red marks, not vice versa. The red marks are exactly where you would expect
    them to be relative to the letters, and are not displaced by the green marks.

    Yes, recreating this document with current software and fonts would be a nightmare. But
    these things exist, and someday someone is going to want to produce an electronic edition
    for study. Coincidentally, I first came across this manuscript in Colette Sirat's _Hebrew
    manuscripts of the Middle Ages_, which also contains an excellent discussion of the way in
    which changes in technology filter our knowledge of the past.

    The Karaites are oriental Jews who reject the post-Temple rabbinic tradition meaning,
    among other things, that they do not recognise the Talmud as a sacred text. They were very
    numerous around the time when this manuscript was produced, and like other oriental Jews
    wrote Judaeo-Arabic in the Arabic script. The Karaites, as this manuscript shows, also
    wrote Hebrew in Arabic, but with Hebrew vocalisation.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks        www.tiro.com
    Gulf Islands, BC      tiro@tiro.com
    We say our understanding measures how things are,
    and likewise our perception, since that is how we
    find our way around, but in fact these do not measure.
    They are measured.   -- Aristotle, Metaphysics

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