[b-hebrew] Samaritan script/proto-hebrew

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sun Mar 20 15:05:00 EST 2005

On 20/03/2005 09:45, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

> ...
(Thank you for all of this, no particular comments on the earlier parts)

>>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.
OK, the Pentateuch, in more or less its final form. But what is its 
date? That is another thorny issue with no easy reconciliation. And what 
is the date of the separation of the Jewish (proto-MT) and Samaritan 
Pentateuchs? There is evidence that this was much later than that of a 
deep religious division between Jerusalem and Samaria. So, yes, that 
supports the theory that there was a split but not a final schism for 
many centuries. But then one can only know in retrospect whether 
reconciliation is ever possible. If in the next century the remaining 
Samaritans become fully united with the modern Jews, does that in fact 
change what happened in the Second Temple period from a schism into a 
mere split?


>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.
It is simply irresponsible to try to drive a wedge between descriptions 
of ancient and modern scripts in this way. The terminology with Naveh 
and you use, calling "Hebrew" without qualification a script which is 
quite different from what every contemporary reader of Hebrew calls 
Hebrew script, is irresponsible deliberate obfuscation.

Let me quote Peter Daniels on this, from his Appendix in "Comparative 
Semitic Linguistics" by Patrcik Bennett, which happens to be at hand. 
Daniels is well recognised as one of the world's foremost experts on 
writing systems.

"... By the sixth century BCE there could be distinguished a Canaanite 
and an Aramaic script. The former died out almost entirely (surviving 
only in Samaritan), to be replaced by the latter, which by the time of 
the Qumran documents (as early as 200 BCE), if not the Egyptian Aramaic 
ones (up to 400 BCE), had nearly achieved the shape of today's square 
Hebrew letters."

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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