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

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  • 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 1 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


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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