Archive for the ‘Cross, FM’ category

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

August 16, 2007

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.


Cross, F. M., “Palaeography and the Date of the Tell Faẖariyeh Bilingual Inscription” in Solving Riddles and Untying Knots: Biblical, Epigraphic, and Semitic Studies in Honor of Jonas C. Greenfield, ed S Gitin, M. Sokoloff, and Z. Zevit (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns), 393-409.

August 9, 2007

The Tell Faẖariyeh bi-lingual has occasioned the largest criticism of strict adherence to Cross’ script typology. Here Cross responds by arguing that while the language of the Tell Faẖariyeh inscription is Aramaic, its script is properly described as Phoenician. While it may be argued that the Phoenician features are due to the far northeastern periphery of the Aramaic realm, Cross argues that Aramaic inscriptions of the 9th century are widely distributed from the central Transjordan to Zinčirli and from Samos to Luristan. All of these 9th century texts belong to the homogeneous Aramaic script. Further, the Faẖariyeh script does not fit into the typological sequence of the distinction of the Aramaic script from the Phoenician (as evidenced in the Gozan inscription for example). The script is purely Phoenician and does not show any Aramaic influence at all. Cross therefore concludes that either the scribe copied earlier Aramaic inscriptions as the model for the script before the Aramaic and Phoenician styles had differentiated or that the inscription must be dated to the late eleventh or early tenth centuries.

Cross, F. M., “The Origin and Early Evolution of the Alphabet.” ErIsr 8 (1967): 8-24.

August 6, 2007

Cross discusses the emerging evidence for the proto-Canaanite alphabet from the pictographic script represented by the proto-Sinaiatic inscriptions to the Ugaritic cuneiform alphabet and the early Phoenician inscriptions. He argues against Gelb that the proto-Canaanite scripts are not syllabaries, but represent consonantal phonemes. This seems to fit the syllable pattern of proto-Canaanite since syllables always begin with a consonant and there are only three phonemic vowels: a, i, and u. Thus in the structure of the writing, each sign notes a consonantal phoneme but implies the possible existence of a vowel. Cross also argues based on typology that the proto-Arabic script branched off from the proto-Canaanite around 1300.