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Dear Gregory L. Doudna,
If memory serves, you have insisted, more than once, that the first
letter of 4Q448 B is an "effaced" Shin--the same word used, but with a
different description of the letter, by Norman Golb. (See Golb's book,
pages 262-270, which includes--as part of his argument--his assertion that
Ada Yardeni was insufficiently educated and experienced to correctly read
that letter; later, Prof. Golb, in a message about the ostracon, described
her as "the highly respected veteran paleographer." I prefer the latter
Both you and Golb seem rather certain about your respective
"effaced" Shins--but they are different. Both cannot be right. To my
knowledge, no one wrote in to orion agreeing with your effaced Shin. The
only one to my knowledge who--possibly--agreed with Golb was his student M.
Wise (in Eisenman/Wise, to which Eisenman added an introduction.) You seem
almost 100% sure of your reading. I found more useful your comment that no
individual scholar reads letters 100% reliably. It's a pretty long list of
scholars who read 'ayin; for what it's worth, I agree with them.
I do not know if Michael Wise still holds to the reading with shin.
I can say that he made very little use (if I recall correctly) of 4Q448 in
his (sometime not plausible) fiction book with scholarly footnotes (see.
e.g., p. 335). Martin Abegg's translation (in Wise/Abegg/Cook) assumes an
'ayin, which means, at a minimum, that Wise did not persuade him about a
Yet Abegg takes 4Q448 as positive toward King Jonathan. With 'ayin
or shin, some scholars read it as positive. I am baffled as to why,
possibly, with a shin or an 'ayin, it cannot be read as negative toward
King Jonathan. I suggest that it is poor methodology to hang all
interpretive issues on one letter. Notice the adversaries and the wicked in
A. Please take the initiative to read Mann and Lemaire and others. They
make substantial observations.
You wrote that Shir was what we would expect. I don't understand
that assertion; yet, even with Shir, wicked peoples or individuals can be
Again, I have not done a careful check. But I don't recall "Holy
song"--that collocation--in Hebrew Bible nor in Qumran manuscripts, or at
least not commonly. If that is true, on what basis should anyone assert it
is to be expected? There may be more to come about all this...but I'll
close here for now.
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