[b-hebrew] Samaritan script/proto-hebrew

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun Mar 20 04:45:47 EST 2005

> >I do not intend to enter a historical discussion with you, 
> >unless you intend to be prepared to back up your 
> >objections and claims where they differ from the currently
> >established scholarly consensus or a major scholarly
> >position.
> And I
> don't accept that any one "major scholarly opinion" is sufficiently
> weighty that I have to argue against it in detail. 

I meant that where you differ from consensus or any one
major position, you should be prepared to explain and
substantiate your position.

> But I have presented
> some of my own evidence for an earlier split,

The question of the date of the "split" is minor in this thread.
I meant only to present that Samaritans are not necessarily
Assyrians resettled in Israel only but probably have roots
going further back.  This reading of the Bible is the first
issue which apparently confused Chris.

> >... The second one was to clarify the terminology since
> >apparently he was reading "Assyrian" script as a name for 
> >Aramaic script, and being confused on that point as well.
> Well, I thought that was the name given in the Talmud, 

Yes, that's the point.  That he was using a Rabbinic name of
Aramaic script to make a conclusion on the nature of the
script (It originated in Assyria).  In any case, using the Talmud
for events that far back (conquest of Assyria) is very

> >What I called Paleo-Hebrew is what experts call Paleo-Hebrew,
> >https://listhost.uchicago.edu/pipermail/ane/2003-July/009788.html ...
> OK, I accept Peter Daniels' terminology, in which he uses 
> "archaic Hebrew" for what I called earlier varieties of 
> palaeo-Hebrew. 

I am unsure whether Daniels is presenting his own viewpoint,
or the current view of research terminology.  I accept that
many scholars and much scholarship will call the early script
"Paleo-Hebrew."  However, incidentally, in a search of
various bibliography on Hebrew script inscriptions the
names "Ancient Hebrew" etc popped up all over the place,
but the only place where the title contained "Paleo-Hebrew"
was in Lemaire's article on the pomegranate.  As the 
pomegranate has been identified and probably accepted 
today as a forgery, the article you quoted on the 
pomegranate was a bad example to bring up though.

> >... The Modern Hebrew script is not the Jewish script of 
> >the DSS.  It is a later development and modern Hebrew 
> >readers cannot make out all the letters of the Jewish script 
> >without help. ...
> I find this very surprising. 

It is possible but hard.  Given a sufficiently long text, they
will manage since they will be able to use their knowledge
of words to compensate for not knowing specific letters.
Some letters are outside the range of variety of modern
Hebrew, in any case.

> Date of divergence is not the same as extent of divergence.
> Greek and hence Latin may have diverged from Phoenician 
> even later, but even so it is demonstrably true that the 
> difference of glyph shapes between Phoenician and 
> palaeo-Hebrew is vastly less than that between Phoenician
> and Latin.

That does not mean Paleo-Hebrew and Phoenician were not
separate lines of development from original Phoenician.  On
paleographic grounds, Naveh dates the divergence of the
Greek script from Proto-Canaanite of the 11th century BCE,
noting it is radically different from the opinion current in his
time (80s) but pointing out Cross had accepted an earlier

> I made it clear that the sentence from which this last quotation 
> was taken was speculation, although it is intended in part to 
> fend off any suggestions that I was suggesting something highly
>  improbable. 

You should still back up with facts.

> But since the facts seem to be that there was a split in the
> 5th century and there was one in the 1st century, if you want 
> to state that there was at least one period of reconciliation 
> between these dates, you need to provide evidence for this.

The Pentateuch.  In any case, you are misusing my term for
split.  A schism after which reconcilation was not possible
is more of what I meant.

> And the persistence of the script is not evidence, given that
> there are many historical examples of peoples separated for 
> centuries continuing to use essentially the same script.

I am not sure this is correct.  I guess it depends on what you
mean by separation.

> >... Again, Hebrew script, when speaking of this period, is not 
> >Aramaic-based, but a parallel development from early
> >Phoenician script centuries earlier.  The Aramaic-based script 
> >is called Jewish script.

> This is simply not true if you are talking about what everyone 
> else in the world calls Hebrew script. 

It seems to me to be current in the scholarship for some time
now (use of Jewish to denote the Aramaic script).  And since
Hebrew is reserved for the different parallel line of development,
I doubt any scholar would call Aramaic script Hebrew.  If you
are speaking of modern script, that's different.  But I'm
speaking of what scholars use in referring to ancient times.
You should also be wary of the use of "Hebrew" where it 
denotes the language of the scroll, not the script.

Yitzhak Sapir

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