Orthography fluidity

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Mon Mar 19 13:22:44 EST 2001


>> (Cross tried to tame the diversity -- not so much of orthography, but of
>script
>> forms -- by putting the various scripts in a chronological order. However,
>if that
>> assumption were correct -- and it has only ever been an assumption --, we
>would
>> expect to see many more scribal hands being repeated within the corpus,
>but as there
>> aren't we have to see his assumption as improbable.)
>
>I'm not sure what "assumption" you are referring to. Are you saying that
>Cross's chronological categories of scripts are an unsubstantiated
>assumption?

Basically, yes.

Cross worked on the assumption that as there were all these variations, he could
best describe them -- for whatever reason (I won't hazard a guess at the moment) --
by putting them in chronological sequence. Given the vast range of independent
exemplars of handwritten Hebrew available to him from the epoch (read: almost none),
he worked mainly with inscriptions which don't necessarily reflect scribal
traditions much at all and concocted a sequential progression of scripts to which he
gave absolute dating names such as Hasmonean or Herodian. How can one hope with
names like these to adjust the datings of the various scripts when new information
comes along to correct the inexactnesses when one has names that tie scripts to
specific eras?

Then on top of the arbitrary decision to put the scripts in such an order according
to his opinions, he then decides to redate archaeological finds that don't suit his
sequences. The prime example comes from the Gezer boundary markers, found by Ronny
Reich the Israeli archaeologist who is in conflict with the revisionism done on his
archaeological work by palaegraphers. When Avigad in the late fifties wrote an
article redating a particular exemplar as fifty years earlier, Cross only said "His
palaeographic arguments are not convincing" (JBL 74 [1955], The Oldest Manuscripts
from Qumran, p163 fn 33). No arguments, merely a dictum.


Ian


>Or something else?






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