From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Three
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"Chronological Chart of the Alphabet and Where Writing Came From? "
Proto-Canaan
1500
B.C.
Proto-Canaan
1300
B.C.
Aramaic

1000
B.C.
Phoeni-cian
1000
B.C.
Hebrew

1000
B.C.
S.Sem.
Arabic
1000
B.C.
Heb.
Moab.
850
B.C.
Anc.
Greek
800
B.C.
Phoen.

800
B.C.
Phoen.

700
B.C.
Aram.
Assyria
700
B.C.
Heb.

700
B.C.
Heb.

600
B.C.
Heb.

200
B.C.
Mod
Heb.
Greek
Latin
"Where did it come from?"

    The Alphabet and art of writing were known as early as 3,000 B.C. and it can be seen that in Old Phoenicia which was settled by an early wave of Semites, who were credited with giving the world its first alphabet.    As early as the sixteenth century B.C., evidences of a Hebrew-Phoenician alphabet are found, from which a standardized script emerged about the tenth century B.C.    This is the cursive script, used in Old Hebrew and for the original writing of the OT books.    This script was replaced by the Hebrew-Aramaic square script probably a century before Christ.
    However since the Samaritan Pentateuch is in the old cursive script, the square letters must not have been used until after the schism between Judea and Samaria about 432 B.C. (Neh. 13:28).    Modern scholarship dates the Samaritan Pentateuch at 128 or 122 B.C. and furthermore, the transition seems not to have preceded the Septuagint, though the Aramaic square letters were in use centuries before by the Jews in Egypt.

Sample of Ugaritic cuneiform writing
    Excavations in a mound at Ras Shamra, ancient Ugarit, found tablets with a script of only 27 different characters.    This proved to be archaic Hebrew, dated about 1400 B.C., hence one of the earliest alphabetic writings yet known. On a mound of Old Lachish (Josh. 10:31-32) inscriptions in alphabetic script were found dating between 1750 and 1550 B.C.    Lachish (Heb. lakhish, rough) Tell ed-Duweir, even before 3000 B.C. was inhabited by Chalcolithic cave dwellers, but in about 2700 an Early Bronze city was constructed, by Middle Bronze it exhibited culture with the Middle-Kingdom Egypt (2000-1780 B.C.).
    To see more about ancient writing, go to a Volume III file entitled History of Writing.

    The Bible was originally written in Hebrew.    The Dead Sea Scrolls found in A.D. 1947 comprised of four scrolls, one of the first documents was a copy of the Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, and two chapters of the book of Habakkuk in Hebrew.    The Deuteronomy fragments were written in archaic script.    Every OT book except Esther was represented among them.    They are valuable as critic to the above three texts that have come down to us through time.
    The most trustworthy, is the Masoretic Hebrew text of the eighth and ninth century A.D.    Second is the Greek Septuagint and third is the Samaritan Pentateuch.
    It may be that the Masoretic text was derived from a Babylonian revision, the Septuagint from Egyptian Hebrew, and the Samaritan from a Palestinian text; but it seems obvious that all were used in Judea.
    The Septuagint was popular in Jesus’ time, it is a translation of Hebrew into Greek by Jewish scholars in Alexandria Egypt.    The Pentateuch was translated about 250 B.C. and the entire OT about a hundred years later.    Septuagint is a Latin word for Seventy (LXX), representing the seventy-two rabbis who translated it.    Later the Hexpla was a translation by Origen in Caesarea in A.D. 240 which was in harmony with other translations by Aquila (a literal word for word used by Jews), Thedotion (a revision of the Septuagint); and Symmachus (a good, smooth Greek paraphrased version).
    More on the Hebrew calendar will be in the following chapter.

   For a more detailed look, continue here to a Volume III subject of the History of the Bible.
   Also of interest is a Volume III file on Ebla (Tell Mardikh).


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