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Re: word spacing
We of course have no biblical manuscripts contemporary with the biblical
period whenever that was. The Priestly benediction from Keteph HInnom,
the earliest known text of a biblical passage uses word dividers as did
almost all inscriptions on stone and potsherd from the biblical period.
Word dividers are used in Ugaritic, Moabite, and Phonecian although I
seem to remember one inscription (Kalamuwa or Panamuwa?) with continuous
writing. Although Ugaritic cuneiform uses word dividers, real cuneiform
used for Akkadian uses continuous writing.
S. D. Luzzato, an Italian Jewish Bible commentator of the last century
mentions the theory of continuous writing (so my memory tells me) in
explaining the small alepf which ends the first word in the book of
The controversial Tell DAn inscription uses word dividers everywhere but
the crucial BYTDWD, and this lack of divider is the kindling point for
the heated discussion about the proper reading. Unfortunately for those
who suggest readings other than Beyt Dawid, their solutions do not solve
I believe that aramaic ostraca use continuous writing as do some (?) Hebrew
seals. I would also check incantation bowls for continuous writing.
Given the mixed evidence for continuous writing in the ANE and the
apparent preponderance of word dividers in NW semitic scripts, I would
not use the suggestion of continuous script to explain textual
abberations in the Hebrew text. Better consider the possibility of
misdividing words or run on writing in idnividual specific cases.
I request everyone's forgiveness if I have made some minor factual errors
in this message (my memory is getting as old as my body) but I think the
gist of what I have said is correct unless someone can offer overwhelming
evidence against it.
On Mon, 9 Sep 1996, William Yarchin wrote:
> I have a question that members of this list could probably answer. I
> know that the scribal practice in antiquity among copyists of Greek and
> Latin mss was to write in a continuing script, that is, without any
> spacing between words or sentences. I know this because there are many
> examples of this in the Greek and Latin mss themselves, and there are
> plenty of explicit references to the careful art of properly reading
> scripta continua texts, such as Augustine's _de Doctrina Christiana_.
> Now and then I am told that ancient semitic, specifically
> biblical, texts were also inscribed without spacing between words and
> sentences. But the DSS seem to feature spacing between words, and, if
> memory serves, the Elephantine papyri also show space between words.
> I recognize that an ostracon here and there appears to be in scripta
> continua format, but can any one tell me of ancient Hebrew mss inscribed
> as script continua? Sometimes textual variants such as in Amos 6:12 are
> linked to the phenomenon of continuous script, but I'm asking for actual
> mss evidence. Is there any example?
> William Yarchin
> Azusa Pacific University