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orion-list skeletons/ 4Q448
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I hope it was clear that the exclamation point after the
first sentence in my last post yesterday ("I knew this
skeleton in my closet would come out at some point!")
was intended to make the sentence read with a smile
as irony or a joke. Its not a real skeleton. Goranson
will have to work a bit harder to find those. :-)
This is an update on the issue of the Ayin/Shin reading
starting B1 in 4Q448. The issue: all of the rest of B1 is
visible and reads as either a prayer, hymn, or title to
such with the name "Jonathan the king", presumably
Alexander Jannaeus, in it. The critical issue is whether
the text is pro- or anti-Jonathan (Jannaeus). The nearly
unanimous reading is Ayin ("holy city", "rise up O God
against Jonathan", "watch over Jonathan O God"). A
reading of Shin was reported by M. Wise in 1992,
followed by Golb in 1995. Both Puech and Harrington/
Stugnell have specifically written that the Shin reading
is impossible. I reported that I saw a Shin reading.
If the reading is Shin then it is "sacred song/hymn
concerning Jonathan and..." This would almost certainly
be positive toward Jonathan. (The only way to get an
anti-Jonathan reading out of it that I can possibly
imagine would be to suppose B is all title, and C,
which has lacunas, is the actual sacred song and says
something negative about Jonathan, even though
nothing visible attests that.) Contrary to other reports
on this list, no scholar has ever claimed 4Q448 is anti-
Jonathan if B1 reads with Shin. E. Main's article, a
copy of which was kindly forwarded to me from C.
Batsch, does not. (Main's article is very worth reading,
but assumes throughout the correctness exclusively
of the Ayin reading.)
More hours under the microscope and I am no longer
sure that reading is Shin. Perhaps it is Ayin after all.
A check of the actual fragment with flashlight and
magnifier in the Rockefeller could answer this for sure,
I think, if the following questions were looked at and
(1) There is a mark to the right of the top of the Lamed
of B2. The mark does not agree with being part of the
Lamed. If the mark is ink it argues powerfully in favor
of the Shin reading, since it is exactly in the position
where the bottom of the Shin would be, but is wholly
incompatible with an Ayin reading above in B1. In all
photographs the mark appears of the same darkness
as ink, and looks like ink. Question: is that mark ink
(2) Looking at the right margin of B there is a dry
vertical ruled line and the letters start at the dry ruled
line--except at B1, where what appears to be the
"Ayin" starts a little inset to the left from where the start
of the first letter should be expected to have been written.
This could be an argument in favor of the defaced Shin.
The problem is I can see no actual confirmation of the
defacing, on the assumption of a defaced Shin, in the
photographs, even under microscope. Therefore the
proposal of defacing is entirely ad hoc. There is plenty
of defacing elsewhere in 4Q448 so the possibility of
defacing in this instance also is not unreasonable.
Nevertheless, the entirely ad hoc nature of the defacing
proposal bothers me. Under actual examination of the
fragment can defacing be confirmed or excluded in the
area surrounding, particularly to the right of, the visible
ink starting B1?
The case in favor of the existing Ayin reading of most
scholars is that the visible ink of the letter at B1 agrees
with the ductus of a routine Ayin (if the thin sloping
horizontal line is ink and not shadow, a further issue
that could be answered at the Rockefeller). Yardeni's
discussion of Ayin forms and drawings in Eshel, Eshel,
and Yardeni 1992 (IEJ) is superb on this, and I withdraw
my earlier statement that there must be some defacing
of the top of the Ayin of B2. I based that on comparison
with the Ayin starting C5 (in which the long stroke is
curved, not straight, according to appearance and
Yardeni's line drawing of it), but that Ayin is broken
and its exact shape may be uncertain. So that is the
issue, and I cannot solve it from this distance (and
will not be able to do so for some time). As a courtesy
I hope that anyone who does check this reading at the
Rockefeller will contact me privately concerning their
findings on these points.
If the reading is Ayin (the usual reading) then the debate
on Jonathan tendenz is wide open. Main makes a very
good argument for the "Rise up against Jonathan" reading.
But Vermes (JJS 44 : 294-300) argues for "holy city".
Again it all goes back to the reading itself--if it is Shin then
all the possibilities with Ayin are irrelevant, and vice versa.
It is worth the effort to solve this for real since no other
text so clearly could shed light on Alexander Jannaeus
tendenz, which is an exceedingly interesting and important
question for scrolls interpretation.
In any case, as I prepare to move to the U.S. I will sign
off from further participation on orion for now. I will be
at my email address in Copenhagen through the end of
the month; after that I can be contacted in the U.S. via
my brother at Sbdoudna@aol.com . Best wishes to all,
For private reply, e-mail to Greg Doudna <email@example.com>
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