REVIEWS THE ORIGINS OF THE WEST SEMITIC ALPHABET IN EGYPTIAN SCRIPTS. By Gordon J. Hamilton. CBQMS 40. Pp. xxv + 433. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic Biblical Association of America, 2006. Paper, $18.00. Ever since the discovery and limited decipherment of the West Semitic inscriptions from Serebit el-Khadem at the beginning of the twentieth century, the small corpus of so-called Proto-Canaanite and somewhat later Old Canaanite inscriptions has gradually expanded over the intervening years. While the corpus has grown quite slowly, the theories as to the orthographic form, meaning, and chronology of these few records have grown exponentially. The otherwise sedate world of West Semitic epigraphy was shaken up, however, in 1999 by the announcement of the discovery of two ProtoCanaanite inscriptions at Wadi el-Hol in Egypt, and it was this new find that largely inspired Gordon Hamilton to publish a thorough revision of his 1985 Harvard dissertation ("The Development of the Early Alphabet"). As Darnell et al. point out, Hamilton's findings in the original dissertation--that the invention of the Semitic alphabet took place in the late twelfth or early thirteenth dynasty and that the letter forms are derived from both hieroglyphic and hieratic Egyptian forerunners--were confirmed by the
Hebrew Studies – National Association of Professors of Hebrew
Published: Oct 5, 2008
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