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Posts Tagged ‘decipherment’

Al Bredenberg makes an interesting connection between the work of a great linguist and the value of collaboration:

Michael Ventris, the Decipherment of Linear B, and the Value of Cross-Fertilization Reading Andrew Robinson’s fascinating book Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts (2002, McGraw-Hill), I recently learned the amazing story of the decipherment of the Linear B script by amateur philologist Michael Ventris in the 1950s. The story brings home some important lessons about innovation: Be willing and eager to collaborate Take advantage of cross-fertilization by bringing in perspectives and skills from diverse d … Read More

via A Thinking Person

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An inscription on a pottery fragment recently deciphered at the University of Haifa in Israel shows that Hebrew was in use during the 10th century BCE, much earlier than generally acknowledged by mainstream scholars.

An announcement from the University of Haifa (see “Most ancient Hebrew inscription deciphered“) says the inscription appears on a pottery shard 15 cm x 16.5 cm and was deciphered by Prof. Gershon Galil of the university’s Department of Biblical Studies. Galil has demonstrated that the inscription is Hebrew. Radioactive dating placed the fragment during the 10th century BCE, making this the oldest known example of Hebrew writing.

The writing’s distinctive use of verbs and particular content show it to be attributable to Hebrew and not to other cultures of the area at that time. Galil is quoted as saying,

This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as asah (“did”) and avad (“worked”), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particular words that appear in the text, such as almanah (“widow”) are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages.

The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society: The present inscription provides social elements similar to those found in the biblical prophecies and very different from prophecies written by other cultures postulating glorification of the gods and taking care of their physical needs.

Galil says this finding argues against the mainstream view that the Bible was written during a later period and that the kingdom of Israel didn’t exist that early.

Galil adds that

It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.

Although the content does not appear to copy or quote from the Bible, the university says it is similar in content to such scriptures as Isa. 1:17, Ps. 72:3, and Ex. 23:3.

Translated into English, the text reads:

1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].

2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]

3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]

4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.

5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

ARK — 15 January 2010

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