Cross, Frank Moore and David Noel Freedman. Early Hebrew Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic Evidence. New Haven: AOS, 1952.

This joint dissertation by Cross and Freedman was written under Albright and attempts a systematic analysis of Hebrew Orthography based first on the early Northwest Semitic inscriptions rather than the Masoretic Text. The authors are primarily interested in the use of matres lectionis, and they study Phoenician, Aramaic, Moabite (the Meša Stone) and Hebrew inscriptions. They conclude that Northwest Semitic orthography was originally purely consonantal. This system was rigorously maintained in Phoenician orthography. Hebrew orthography followed consonantalism through the period of heavy Phoenician influence until the 10th century. Shortly after they borrowed the alphabet (11th-10th centuries) the Aramaeans altered the basic principles of spelling by developing a system for the indication of final vowels. This system did not grow spontaneously out of historical spelling, but was a conscious innovation. The system was later extended to represent medial vowels, at which point historical spelling did play a role with the contraction of diphthongs.

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