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Thread: Ancient Jews more literate than previously thought

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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Ancient Jews more literate than previously thought

    To be kept in mind the next time someone drones on about the Bible being composed by "illiterate Bronze Age goat herders"

    Source: New Evidence on When Bible Was Written: Ancient Shopping Lists



    Eliashib, the quartermaster of the remote desert fortress, received his instructions in writing — notes inscribed in ink on pottery asking for provisions to be sent to forces in the ancient kingdom of Judah.

    The requests for wine, flour and oil read like mundane, if ancient, shopping lists. But a new analysis of the handwriting suggests that literacy may have been far more widespread than previously known in the Holy Land around 600 B.C., toward the end of the First Temple period. The findings, according to the researchers from Tel Aviv University, could have some bearing on a century-old debate about when the main body of biblical texts was composed.

    “To Eliashib: And now, give the Kittiyim 3 baths of wine, and write the name of the day,” read one of the texts, composed in ancient Hebrew using the Aramaic alphabet, and apparently referring to a Greek mercenary unit in the area.

    Another said: “And a full homer of wine, bring tomorrow; don’t be late. And if there is vinegar, give it to them.”

    The new study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combined archaeology, Jewish history and applied mathematics, and involved computerized image processing and the development of an algorithm to distinguish between the various authors issuing the commands.

    Based on a statistical analysis of the results, and taking into account the content of the texts that were chosen for the sample, the researchers concluded that at least six different hands had written the 18 missives at around the same time. Even soldiers in the lower ranks of the Judahite army, it appears, could read and write.

    “There is something psychological beyond the statistics,” said Prof. Israel Finkelstein of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations at Tel Aviv University, one of the leaders of the project. “There is an understanding of the power of literacy. And they wrote well, with hardly any mistakes.”



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    I had long heard that the Jews were regarded as being among the most, if not the most, literate people in the Mediterranean region.

    The abstract from the paper itself: Algorithmic handwriting analysis of Judah’s military correspondence sheds light on composition of biblical texts

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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    According to the experts this finding could well push the dating of the earliest Biblical texts back at least 200 years from what is generally assumed.

    I'm always still in trouble again

  3. Amen Raphael, LostSheep amen'd this post.
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    Child of the One True King Raphael's Avatar
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    I wonder what the story is around this particular one: "And a full homer of wine, bring tomorrow; don’t be late. And if there is vinegar, give it to them."
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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raphael View Post
    I wonder what the story is around this particular one: "And a full homer of wine, bring tomorrow; don’t be late. And if there is vinegar, give it to them."
    tumblr_mvtjrcQ6ds1somw7ho1_500.jpg

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Another said: “And a full homer of wine, bring tomorrow; don’t be late. And if there is vinegar, give it to them.”

    Obviously that was a shopping list from a wife. "don't forget the milk and bread on your way home"

  9. Amen Littlejoe, OU812 amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Carrikature's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    Another said: “And a full homer of wine, bring tomorrow; don’t be late. And if there is vinegar, give it to them.”

    Obviously that was a shopping list from a wife. "don't forget the milk and bread on your way home"
    The true story behind "ET phone home".
    I'm not here anymore.

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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogue06 View Post
    To be kept in mind the next time someone drones on about the Bible being composed by "illiterate Bronze Age goat herders"

    I had long heard that the Jews were regarded as being among the most, if not the most, literate people in the Mediterranean region.

    This is clearly an over statement, particularly concerning the origins of the Bible. The Evidence overwhelmingly indicate that the Egyptians, Babylonians, Ugarites, and Sumarians clearly have a longer history of literacy than the Hebrew tribes. Definitely NOT the most literate people of the Mediterranean.

    Yes, the Bible was originally composed, edited and redacted, and added to 'after' the dates of this discovery.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shunyadragon View Post
    I had long heard that the Jews were regarded as being among the most, if not the most, literate people in the Mediterranean region.

    This is clearly an over statement, particularly concerning the origins of the Bible. The Evidence overwhelmingly indicate that the Egyptians, Babylonians, Ugarites, and Sumarians clearly have a longer history of literacy than the Hebrew tribes. Definitely NOT the most literate people of the Mediterranean.
    You're confusing two different concepts here. One is how long a society has had writing. The other is what portion of a particular society is literate. The second is what is in view here; you're arguing regarding the first.
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  14. Amen Carrikature, Raphael, robrecht, Cerebrum123, OU812 amen'd this post.
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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shunyadragon View Post
    I had long heard that the Jews were regarded as being among the most, if not the most, literate people in the Mediterranean region.

    This is clearly an over statement, particularly concerning the origins of the Bible. The Evidence overwhelmingly indicate that the Egyptians, Babylonians, Ugarites, and Sumarians clearly have a longer history of literacy than the Hebrew tribes. Definitely NOT the most literate people of the Mediterranean.

    Yes, the Bible was originally composed, edited and redacted, and added to 'after' the dates of this discovery.
    Having a longer history of being literate is not the same as being more literate. As this discovery verifies, literacy was not exclusively found among the most educated as it was in other societies. It appears to be much more widespread in ancient Israel (or Judah) as even low ranked soldiers in an isolated location were able to read and write

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  16. Amen Raphael, Jedidiah amen'd this post.
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    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogue06 View Post
    Having a longer history of being literate is not the same as being more literate. As this discovery verifies, literacy was not exclusively found among the most educated as it was in other societies. It appears to be much more widespread in ancient Israel (or Judah) as even low ranked soldiers in an isolated location were able to read and write
    Your over emphasizing one find to justify an agenda. Many examples dating far older in the other cultures have found writing used in every day commerce, which directly translates to people working in commerce would be literate far older than any thing found ancient Judaism.

    It is shear unrealistic speculation to justify more ancient Biblical scripture older than the present finds based on this find. Nothing has been found so far concerning Biblical text older than the silver scrolls.
    Last edited by shunyadragon; 04-15-2016 at 01:05 PM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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