Saturday, January 22, 2011

Evidence for Hebrew Writing Before 500 BCE?

A cursory search of J-STOR turned up a 1982 article entitled:
The Samaria Ostraca: An Early Witness to Hebrew Writing
Author(s): Ivan T. Kaufman
Source: The Biblical Archeologist, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Autumn, 1982), pp. 229-239
Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research

This article presents evidence for a date of 720-40 BCE of Hebrew writing rather than 500 BCE.

Interestingly, the March/April 2010 of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) has an article on the origin of the alphabet and the "Oldest Hebrew Inscription" which dates from "the late 11th - early tenth century BCE" or 1100 - 1000 BCE, twice as long as what "Bible minimalists" say. (pages 36-50; 51-54.  The conclusion: "The writer of the text was a professional.  In light of the data, and assuming this was [found in] a royal fortress from the early days of the United Monarchy, such a letter found close to the gates of the city testifies to the presence of literate administrators in the city despite its modest size....In short, if this was all present in the tenth century at the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa, out in the boonies, just imagine what was happening in Jerusalem." -- page 54
In addition, the latest edition of BAR (January/February 2011) on page 20 has this comment by Gary A. Rendsburg, professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University: "Taken together, the Tel Zahyit abecedary, the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription and the Gezer calendar demonstrate that writing was well established in tenth-century Israel -- certainly sufficiently so for some or many of the works later incorporated into the Hebrew Bible to have been composed at this time."
Archaeology keeps pushing the date of writing closer to the time of Moses.  Who knows what else will be found?  Therefore, there is no reason to just accept the conclusions of those secular scholars who put minimalist dates on Bible books.

Below is a link to Biblical Archeology Review with a video on this very subject:

Here is an article on the Ketef Hinnom texts as mentioned in the video:

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