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orion coloring scribes
S.G. took issue with a comment in one of my recent posts, suggesting that I
may have responded without thinking. Well, thats possible. But I continue
to maintain that it is patently absurd to suggest that scribes colored their
texts with different inks.
First, to drag in late talmudic or midrashic material is a false methodology
. When S.G. suggests that the later Rabbis were concerned with ink color it
does not mean that such a concern existed in the first couple of centuries
BCE. In fact, there is no evidence at all regarding such concerns.
Second, and most important, if we assume that S.G. and Crowder are correct,
we must posit scribes sitting around with different ink bowls around them.
We must further posit that these same scribes would choose these colors for
some purpose. What might that purpose be? Why would a scribe want to color
his text? Are we now to suppose that the Qumran mss are the earliest
examples of medieval illustrated manuscripts?
In short, it is just silly to suggest that scribes in Palestine in the era
of our concern would do such a thing. As an earlier poster pointed out- it
is not just the letters that are colored- so are some portions of the
leather. Its time for common sense to return to this debate. Those who
wish to see scribal coloring practices are now obliged to give some reason
for it. Or desist.
Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology