Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry

By Frank Moore Cross Jr.; David Noel Freedman | Go to book overview
Save to active project


The original plan of research was simple. In a first study we would examine the inscriptional evidence available from the early periods for the Northwest Semitic languages to determine orthographic practices and patterns, and chart evolutionary developments. Sequence dating and absolute dates would be established by epigraphic analysis of features of the inscriptions other than their orthographic usage.

In a second study we would take the conclusions of the first and apply them to selected biblical texts, to see what could be gained, by rigorous orthographic analysis, in the way of interpretation, elucidation, and clarification of difficult passages, especially in fixed poetic contexts. The earliest Israelite poetry was the immediate target, and the presumption was that embedded in the preserved text of the Hebrew Bible there would be evidence of older orthographic practice surviving despite the scribal revisions in subsequent stages of manuscript transmission, some perhaps as early as the earliest form of Hebrew orthography. This so-called Phoenician spelling of the tenth century B.C. and earlier was marked by strict consonantism in notation, that is, without vowel letters in either the final or medial position. In addition, one of the old poems was preserved in two variant texts, 2 Samuel 22=Psalm 18, and, we hoped, would reflect evidence of both written and oral transmission and perhaps even dialectical differences.

Two dissertations emerged from these studies. Both were completed essentially in the academic year 1947-48 (although the second was not submitted until 1949-50), and served their primary purpose in partially satisfying degree requirements. The first, Early Hebrew Orthography: The Epigraphic Evidence, was published in revised form in the American Oriental Series, no. 36, in 1952. In it we set down the basic styles governing spelling practices in the Northwest Semitic inscriptions from the twelfth-eleventh centuries B.C. until the time of the Exile of Judah (early sixth century) and traced the modifications and adaptations of the primary systems of Linear Phoenician after its borrowing into Aramaic and other writing systems, notably


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 192

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?