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Re: [ANE-2] Re: [WSW] Sino-Jewish connection: Dead Sea Scrolls

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  • Yitzhak Sapir
    ... Hello, Jim Davila on his blog has written quite a bit about this particular newspaper author, in 2004: http://tinyurl.com/yeqgk3 in 2005:
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 7, 2006
      On 11/6/06, E Bruce Brooks wrote:

      > Second, and I copy this note to several other lists where a recent newspaper
      > article on the Isaiah scroll and/or the supposed Chinese mediaeval
      > connection have been mentioned, the newspaper writer seems to have gotten
      > several things mixed up. The point on which Victor Mair and I were
      > consulted, some years ago, if I recall the case correctly, was whether the
      > Chinese character-like marks in the margins of the Isaiah Manuscript
      > entrusted for publication to St Mark's Monastery could plausibly be
      > construed as, or as derived from, Chinese characters. My answer, and I
      > believe also Victor's, was that they could. The manuscript in question is
      > the complete or "Great" Isaiah scroll from Qumran Cave 1, in some lists
      > coded as 1QIsa(a), published in facsimile in 1950.

      Hello,

      Jim Davila on his blog has written quite a bit about this particular newspaper
      author,
      in 2004: http://tinyurl.com/yeqgk3
      in 2005: http://tinyurl.com/yleb6r
      and this year: http://tinyurl.com/yzju2a http://tinyurl.com/ya6nnh

      He has responded to the article you seem to refer to here:
      http://tinyurl.com/yykz44

      On other occasions, he brought comments by people quoted by
      Mr. Altman -
      Jim VanderKam: http://tinyurl.com/yj7dx8
      and Eric Heen: http://tinyurl.com/ykz5aq

      He also commented on an article of Altman related to the Talmud:
      http://tinyurl.com/stryr

      And he links to an article by Jay Treat on Chinese scribal marks
      in the Dead Sea Scrolls:
      http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rs/dss/marks/review.html

      It seems you are to be added to the growing list of scholars who
      have been approached and then misquoted or misrepresented by
      Mr. Altman.

      Yitzhak Sapir
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: ANE-2 In Response To: Yitzhak Sapir On: Neil Altman From: Bruce Thanks to Yitzhak for the background on Altman; it adds much to my own more vague but
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 7, 2006
        To: ANE-2
        In Response To: Yitzhak Sapir
        On: Neil Altman
        From: Bruce

        Thanks to Yitzhak for the background on Altman; it adds much to my own more
        vague but consistent perception. In the interest of fairness, however, I
        should say that I was not incorrectly quoted by Altman years ago on the
        Isaiah Scroll issue (he has not consulted me about his current theory). It
        was and is my opinion that certain of the complex marginal marks in that
        scroll could conceivably be inexpert and possibly third-hand renderings or
        impressions of Chinese characters. That possibility remains, to me,
        possible, not less so in context of other data, such as the apparent
        occurrence, in the Mediterranean world in that same period, of bits and
        scraps of what look like Eastern lore wisdom, and whose occurrence (then and
        not earlier) seems to me at lest thinkable as an artifact of the high-volume
        silk trade then in progress between Rome and China, with entrepots not only
        at Bactria, as in the time of Herodotus, but also apparently now in
        Babylonia or vicinity. That possibility is not negated by demonstrating (as
        Jay Treat does, or as anyone readily can) that these inexpert versions, if
        that is what they are, differ calligraphically from expert versions.

        What is fraudulent to me in Altman's latest is his attempt to link this old
        situation, whatever the facts about it may be, with mediaeval Chinese Jewish
        data. Again, there is nothing fake about the fact that there were Jewish
        (and Nestorian) communities in Tang China; that is well known. It is the
        combination here urged that seems to me unsound. But enough for Altman, and
        now I have a question.

        Yitzhak gives a link to the article by Treat, summarizing conclusions of
        Tov, on the Isaiah marginalia. That article also surfaced in discussion on
        another E-list. I have no great stake in this either way, but I am curious
        to know if anyone on this list can supply what seems to me to be a missing
        point in Tov's suggestion that the Isaiah marginal marks in question are
        better construed as composites of single Hebrew letters (some of them
        written atypically for the purpose) and shapes such as a triangle.

        No doubt those shapes (or almost any others) might be seen as composites of
        Hebrew letters, but my question is, Why, when single-letter Hebrew sense
        markers also existed, would these composites have been framed, and once
        framed, what was their special meaning, to the scribe or his intended
        readers? Are they anagrams, acrostics, emphatics, arcane allusions, or what?
        Tov seems to stop at the point of showing the graphic possibility, which (if
        we toss in a triangle or two) may be conceded. But what was the semantic or
        symbolic purpose?

        Any thoughts, or literature reports, from list members knowledgeable about
        the situation will be most welcome. I get asked about these things from time
        to time, but cannot myself imaginably keep current with the relevant
        scholarship.

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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