Thursday, September 10, 2009

NEWS ON THE MT. ZION CUP INSCRIPTION from National Geographic:

Coded Inscription

What sets the newfound cup apart is its inscription, which is still sharply etched but so far impossible to understand.

Similar to intentionally enigmatic writing in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the cup's script appears to be a secret code, written in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, the two written languages used in Jerusalem at the time (see video of a village where the language of Jesus is still spoken).

"They wrote it intending it to be cryptic," Gibson said.

In hopes the script can be deciphered, Gibson's team is sharing pictures of the cup with experts on the writing of the period. The researchers also plan to post detailed photos of the cup and its inscriptions online soon.

One thing the team is sure of, though, is that whoever inscribed the cup had something big in mind—and didn't want just anyone to know.

"They could be instructions on how to use [the cup], could have incantations or curses. But it's not going to be something mundane like a shopping list."
I'm not sure which "intentionally enigmatic" Dead Sea Scrolls are alluded to here. There are Scrolls in a cryptic script, but the secret code is the script rather than the content. Is the Mt. Zion cup written in a cryptic script? An earlier article in the Los Angeles Times says that "the text is in an informal cursive script and is apparently deliberately cryptic," but goes on to say that the name of God is readable in it. Two lines of the text have been published, but I haven't had time to try to read them. Has anyone else come up with anything? My recollection is that the Aramaic, Canaanite, and Dead Sea Scrolls lists have been quiet on the subject.

Whatever the cup says, I doubt that it's a shopping list.