Orthography fluidity

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Sat Mar 17 17:18:26 EST 2001

> Ezra seems a bit early for this, Peter. The Qumran texts show
> great fluidity in orthography. By the first century CE at
> Masada and early 2nd with the Bar Kochba finds a case
> could be made that an MT-type text was standardized, but
> this certainly wasn't the case 1st BCE (unless one wants to
> argue that some subset of the Qumran variety represented
> a standardization which not everyone else yet accepted).
> On fluidity of orthography in copying biblical texts
> see Kutscher 1974 on 1QIsaA, Horgan 1979 on the
> pesharim, DJD editions, etc. etc.
> Qumran has got to be considered the evidence for what was
> happening 1st BCE, rather than considered non-
> representative of what was happening.

Why does it have to be considered normative for what was 
happening all over the region and the known world?  All we know 
about the Qumran texts is that the people who produced them 
practiced this fluidity.  Given the way plene spellings tend to 
abound in various parts of the corpus, it's very possible that some 
of the "fluidity" was localized and used for the purpose of 
pronunciation in public reading.   It's possible to generalize and say 
that this may be what was happening everywhere, but until we find 
similar documents from other places this generalization must 
remain nothing more than an assumption.

Dave Washburn
"No study of probabilities inside a given frame can ever
tell us how probable it is that the frame itself can be
violated."  C. S. Lewis

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