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Re: orion postscript on "Chinese"

S. Goranson is right to point out Tov's article on scribal marks in the
DSS.  Here is some further material on the subject. A web version, with
illustrations, is available at:



Recent discussion on Orion interested me in the issue of Chinese
characters in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  My attention focused particularly on
the two symbols that were first associated with Chinese:  the symbol in
the bottom right margin of 1QS column 7 and the symbol in the right margin
of 1QS column 9, line 3.  In 1990, Victor Mair cautiously compared and
contrasted these two symbols with the Chinese character "ti," meaning
"God; divine king, deceased king; emperor" (To clear the record, it is
worth noting that Mair never used the misleading gloss that has been given
twice on Orion, "divine king who is slain"). 

Looking at John Trevor's published photographs of 1QS, my impression was
that these two symbols were elaborated paragraphos marks (perhaps even
coronis marks), used to separate sense units. The use of the paragraphos
and coronis in Greek manuscripts is introduced in Turner (1971).

The marks occur in 1QS in the same location horizontally as the usual
paragraphos marks.  For the most part, the paragraphos marks in 1QS seem
to mark reasonable sense breaks.  The two more elaborate marks in columns
7 and 9 are also logical sense breaks.  The first (1QS, col. 7) could be
considered a major sense break. The second of these marks (1QS, col. 9)
appears at a sense break, with open space in the text.  Another symbol
appears at a major break in content at the beginning of column 5, with
open space in the text. Possibly, I thought, readers of 1QS marked these
sections of their rules with marks more elaborate than the usual
paragraphos because they needed to find these sections quickly when
questions arose.

At this point, I discovered that Emanuel Tov has published the results of
a wide-ranging study of scribal markings in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  These
publications are:

Tov, Emanuel.  "Letters of the Cryptic A Script and Paleo-Hebrew Letters
Used as Scribal Marks in Some Qumran Scrolls," _Dead Sea Discoveries_ 2
(1995): 330-339. 

Tov, Emanuel.  "Scribal Markings in the Texts from the Judean Desert," in
D. W. Parry and S. D. Ricks (eds.), _Current Research and Technological
Developments on the Dead Sea Scrolls: Conference on the Texts from the
Judean Desert, Jerusalem, 30 April 1995_ (Studies on the Texts of the
Desert of Judah XX; Leiden, New York, Cologne: E. J. Brill,  1996): 41-77. 

Except for its introductory sentence and concluding paragraph, the first
article is incorporated with very minor changes into the second, more
comprehensive article.  I highly recommend this article to everyone
interested in the scribal markings in the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

Tov's study is cautious and aware of its own limits.  He has not examined
every Dead Sea Scroll, but he has studied a very large number of them and
has categorized the scribal marks found in them into eight categories --
including signs that divide the text into paragraphs, and letters in the
Cryptic A script and paleo-Hebrew script that indicate matters of special
interest.  The study shows familiarity with the scholarship on the subject
and with Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic paleography.

Tov discusses the two markings that resemble "ti" (Tov 1996: 63-64).  They
are composite signs, with some similarity to coronis marks.  The first
(1QS, col. 7) he sees as a paleo-Hebrew zayin with an ornamental top
(paralleled by a marking in 1QIsa-a, col. 10), and a triangular form
below.  The second (1QS, col. 9,3) he sees as a combination of a
paragraphos, a paleo-Hebrew zayin, and a samekh like the Cryptic A samekh
in 4Q186.  The mark at 1QS, col. 5, 1 is a paleo-Hebrew waw, probably used
as a paragraph sign (Tov 1996:62-63).  These three marks probably indicate
content breaks, but Tov also raises the possibility that the mark at 1QS,
col. 7 may contain a column or section number (Tov 1996: 69).

Perhaps the most interesting of Tov's findings is that the use of scribal
markings in DSS "is almost exclusively limited to the texts written
according to the Qumran scribal practice" (Tov 1996: 70).  The marks
appear to be used by scribes, correctors, or readers belonging to the
sect.  Except for paleo-Hebrew waw as a paragraph marker (Tov 1996: 62),
the scribal marks in Cryptic A script and in paleo-Hebrew appear to
indicate a sectarian interest.  

In summary, it appears possible to account for a large number of scribal
marks in the Dead Sea Scrolls on the basis of Aramaic, Hebrew, and 
Greek scribal practices, without appealing to writing systems
used in more remote locations. 


P.S. A web version of this posting, with illustrations, is available at:

Jay C. Treat 			    manager, Instructional Computing
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