[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: orion ostraca

A lot of obfuscation is happening concerning the ostracon and the 
"yachad" reading.  The issues in the reading can be summarized 
succinctly and examined by anyone with access to the Cross/Eshel 
IEJ article and photograph.  Cross, Eshel, and Goranson would 
have us see in line 8 the sequence lamed-yod-chet-dalet.  Goranson 
has attempted to characterize anyone who disagrees as ill-motivated, 
instead of, perhaps, seeing differently.

Here is why this yachad reading (as distinguished from the sincerity 
of those who see the reading) is as phony as a three-dollar bill.  
The lamed is a certain reading and the dalet at the end is a possible 
reading, therefore those need not be further discussed.  The third, 
N-shaped letter is clear and its shape is not in dispute; only its 
interpretation is at issue.  There are six alephs in this text and ALL are 
N-shaped (Cross's term: "inverted-V aleph", one of the most common 
types of alephs).  (Read the N-shaped second letter of line 7 also as aleph, 
not Cross/Eshel's He, making a seventh.)  There are between 3 and 12 
Chets in this text, depending on judgments of uncertainties, and NONE 
are N-shaped.  The letter in question in line 8 is in form EXACTLY
like ALL of the alephs in this text and like NONE of the chets. 
Therefore the routine reading of this letter which looks like all 
other alephs, it follows, ought logically to be aleph.  (How other 
scribes in certain other texts wrote chets is irrelevant.)  

For the second letter of the word Cross, Eshel, and Goranson have 
read a huge, teepee-shape (inkblot?) on the ostracon as a yod, 
although it looks like no other yod.  There is no yod elsewhere in the 
ostracon or anywhere in Cross's script charts that can be cited as a 
comparable exemplar (by my checking).  (The last letter of line 4 of 
Ostracon No. 2 Cross/Eshel read wrongly as yod; read that instead 
as aleph.)  Reading this giant teepee, both sides of the tent which go 
down to base level, as a yod is a decidedly odd reading.  But there 
need be no mystery.  There is a routine Nun visible in the IEJ photograph.  
No tricks, its just there.  Its faint, but its there.  If you're 
working from a photocopy it might be missed, but in the IEJ 
photograph it is there. 

Cross, Eshel, and Goranson are asking the Qumran scholarly community 
to accept extraordinary readings of letters which give routine 
readings as completely different letters.  The question is whether 
there is any legitimate reason to urge these highly odd readings as 
preferable to routine readings.  It is not as if there is a reason to 
expect the word "yachad" in this slot.  Gilead Morahg in Jerusalem 
stated publicly that the syntax of the Cross/Eshel reading, "and when 
he completes Yachad", is grammatically not possible in any attested 
form of Hebrew.  So there are not only two letters out of four given 
major surgery, but the end result is also odd syntactically.  And there 
is nothing in the text requiring any of this to begin with.  It is not a 
necessity in identifying the errors of the Cross, Eshel, and Goranson 
reading to propose a reading that works.  Nevertheless the routine 
readings do give a perfectly reasonable word, as outlined in my 
previous post.  This "yachad" reading is like the "pierced messiah" 
reading.  It never existed, it does not exist now, but Qumran scholarship 
is going to be living with this for years and years.     

To those on the sidelines bewildered by the controversy, a good 
diagnostic sign to look for in the reactions to this post is whether 
it is met on the grounds of palaeography or on extraneous issues.  If 
the latter, remember the old rhetorical ploy, "point weak, raise 
voice", and evaluate accordingly.  (And thanks to the moderator for 
forbearance on length of this post.)

Greg Doudna