Archive for the ‘Zevit, Ziony’ category

Zevit, Ziony. Matres Lectionis in Ancient Hebrew Epitaphs. Cambridge, Mass.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1980.

August 24, 2007

In this work Zevit studies the use of matres lectionis in Hebrew orthography. In the introduction he re-assesses the conclusions of Cross and Freedman in their first dissertation, specifically the claim that matres lectionis had a late origin in Northwest Semitic orthography in 10th century Aramaic. The appearance of vowel letters in the Ugaritic texts suggests that the idea of matres lectionis was “was current in the Canaanite cultural milieu prior to the end of the 2nd millennium.” However there is not enough evidence to draw relationships between the use of vowel letters in the Ugaritic cuneiform script and the linear scripts. Still, Zevit challenges the idea that the use of matres lectionis in Hebrew orthography must be traced to Aramaic orthography. Unfortunately, no Hebrew inscriptions are extant prior to the 10th century Gezer calendar, in which the use of vowel letters is debatable at best. Zevit’s approach is compelling, but he does not make detailed arguments to support his contentions. The bulk of the monograph is spent analyzing the Hebrew inscriptions.