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Re: orion-list writing systems

Gentle listfolk:

Since I know almost nothing about paleography (except to be very skeptical
of too-precise dating based on it), nor do I have easy access to photos of
DSS mss., I don't have any insights to contribute to this discussion. But I
have been reading most of the posts with interest (that way I have at least
a sense of what the issues are in fields related to my own); and I have a
couple of perhaps naive questions.

1. As I read Dr. Altman's posts, it seems to me that she is speaking of any
area of expertise that is well known in its specific field, but which may
not be well understood by those specializing in Semitic languages or the
DSS. This sounds plausible to me. For example, linguistics is a highly
developed field, but those of us who have specialized in, say, biblical
exegesis or semitic languages, often have only a passing acquaintance with
linguistics as a modern discipline (although there are exepctions). This
has been repeatedly demonstrated in discussions on this list and the ane
list. Now, in the case of linguistics, there are basic textbooks in the
field that linguists have been able to point to and say - "before you
expect to have a serious discussion with me, you should read at least one
of the following standard works ..." Is the same true here? Dr. Altman, can
you point us to a basic bibliography? Or have I misunderstood something?

2. I found Dr. Altman's assertions about elementary standards of scribal
practice fascinating, and they sound plausible to me. But I have no way of
judging their accuracy (remember my ignorance in the field); a lot of folks
have been misled by plausible-sounding arguments. So let me ask one
question that occurs to me. Most of the specific evidence of scribal
practice cited by Dr. Altman seems to come from early medieval times or
perhaps late antiquity. Can we be certain that the same patterns held in
earlier times? in Jewish scribal practice? Or is there a chance that some
patterns have been wrongly projected back into ane contexts? (Dr. Altman,
this is not an attempt to prove you wrong; it's an honest question - I
really don't know). I realize this latter question may be bigger than can
be handled on an e-mail list alone, so - again - I would be happy to learn
of bibliography in this matter.

I hope these naive questions may help clarify issues for the
non-paleographers on the list.


Paul Sodtke
London, Ontario
For private reply, e-mail to Paul Sodtke <psodtke@execulink.com>
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