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Re: orion Re: DNA hide tests & C14 dating &
>On Fri, 31 Oct 97 20:51:52 PST, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> [... Snip ...]
>>I would suppose that the Hebrew of the DSS can be dated to a specific time.
>>Am I correct?
>>What documents contemporary with the scrolls helpl to date them? What
>>idioms, language structure, basic structure of the writing, letters,
>>(calligraphy?), within the scrolls help to pinpoint when they were written?
One problem here is that certain kinds of literature (especially
apocalyptic) were deliberately written in imitation of Hebrew biblical
style to give them greater authenticity. See, most obviously, the
Pseudepigrepha. So the DSS cannot be assumed to reflect the normal spoken
or written Hebrew of its day. If anything they are likely, stylewise, to
look "earlier" rather than "later" than the time they were written. This
is one reason why any student of biblical Hebrew can read (at least
superficially) DSS far more easily than mishnaic Hebrew and lightyears
more easily than talmudic Aramaic -- even though Aramaic may have been the
lingua franca of the region at the time DSS were written, and very likely
the normal written and spoken of the DSS authors.
> Outside of the Scrolls, are there any complete Hebrew texts earlier
> than the 10th c CE? Are not the Mishnah copies of copies? Review
> the data for me. I couldn't find an answer to a quick scan.
Here I would observe that when scribes copy and recopy earlier texts, many
minor and some major discrepancies due to haplography, may creep in, but
not wholesale changing of the linguistic style -- that would have to be a
deliberate and extensive enterprise. So I would not expect copies --
especially of "sacred" texts -- to deviate so widely from earlier copies,
or even from the original, as to make any resemblance purely coincidental!
The proof of the pudding is in the (to me) surprisingly few discrepancies
we find, for instance, between the DSS scroll of Isaiah and the massoretic
text. Maybe scribes did their job more faithfully than some people want to
think, even though obviously subject to human error. Which is not to say
they never made deliberate, agenda-driven, editorial emendations -- but to
my mind the degree of correspondence of later to earlier versions is quite
remarkable. Sigrid can tell us about scribal conventions and what degree
of license, if any they were allowed to take.
Judith Romney Wegner