[b-hebrew] Matres Lectionis and critical analysis

Peter Bekins pbekins at fuse.net
Tue Aug 28 17:02:28 EDT 2007


 >>He suggested that the oldest texts from which
 >>the books of the Hebrew bible were copied had no matres
 >>lectionis and were written without spaces.

Which oldest texts was he referring to, the ones Moses wrote or the  
ones God actually wrote with his finger? :)

You are the computer scientist with electronic copies of the Aleppo  
codex and lexicon, why don't you write a routine to pull out the  
spaces, mark the matres as optional and suggest all the possible  
permutations of the text and then report back to us. With all this  
talk of reading the unpointed text I would be interested in knowing  
exactly what percentage of the words are truly ambiguous. You'll have  
to come up with a methodology to separate historical spellings from  
true vowel letters (are you going to count the yod of BYT as a  
mater?) Oh, you'll probably have to throw together a morphological  
and syntactical parser while you are at it and you can use your  
concordance to pull out common phrases to mark things that should be  
unambiguous by context like BN XKM. :)

Peter Bekins
(Sorry for the flippant response, reading all day long is frying my  

PS. Also read all of these books:

Andersen, Francis I. and Forbes, A. Dean. _Spelling in the Hebrew  
Bible_. Biblica et Orientalia 41; Rome: Biblical Institute, 1986.

Bange, L. A. _A Study of the Use of Vowel-Letters in Alphabetic  
Consonantal Writing_.  Munich: Verlag UNI-Druck, 1971.

Barr, James. _The Variable Spellings of the Hebrew Bible: The  
Schweich Lectures of the British Academy_. 1986. Oxford: Oxford  
University, 1989.

Cross, F. M., “The Origin and Early Evolution of the Alphabet.”  
ErIsr 8 (1967): 8-24.

Cross, Frank Moore and David Noel Freedman. _Early Hebrew  
Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic Evidence_. New Haven: AOS, 1952

Garr, Randall. _Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000-586  
B.C.E._ 1985

Kaufman, S. A., "The Pitfalls of Typology: On the Early History of  
the Alphabet," HUCA 57 (1986) 1-14.

Millard, A.R. “Variable Spelling in the Hebrew Bible and Other  
Ancient Texts” Journal of Theological Studies no 42 (1991) pp 106-116

Naveh, Joseph. _Early History of the Alphabet_. Jerusalem: Magnes  
Press, 1982.

O’Connor, Michael Patrick. “Writing Systems, native speaker  
analyses, and the earliest stages of Northwest Semitic  
orthographies”, in The Word of the Lord Shall go Forth, Ed Carol L  
Myers and M O’Connor. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1983), 439-465.

Segert, Stanislav, “Vowel Letters in Early Aramaic”, JNES Vol 37  
no 2 (Apr 1978), 111-114.

Sarfatti, Gad B. ראשית אימות¯הקריאה בכתב  
השמי המערבי ניסיון של סיכים, Leshonenu 58/1,3  
(1994): 13-24,27

Zevit, Ziony. _Matres Lectionis in Ancient Hebrew Epitaphs_.  
Cambridge, Mass: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1980.

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