Monday, June 15, 2020

Names in Jeremiah and the inscriptions

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY: Comparing biblical names, epigraphs back Book of Jeremiah’s historicity. Golub examined collected names from excavated artifacts published in journals, corpora and books to gather as many names as possible (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
However, one important difference that Golub found out is that within the Yahwistic names mentioned in Jeremiah, the groups of letter yod-hei-vav and just yod-vav seem to be used interchangeably (53% v. 42%) while almost all the epigraphic artifacts present yod-hei-vav.

As the first combination of letters was more commonly used in the ancient kingdom of Judah while the latter in the ancient kingdom of Israel, the archaeologist explained that this element might simply be a sign that the author did not perceive the difference as important, but also that the book was actually compiled in a later period, when the use of yod-vav had become more common.
Scribes tend to update the spelling of words when copying an old book. The spelling of the names in the Book of Jeremiah is pretty much what I would expect even if the book was mostly compiled in Jeremiah's time. The profile of the names fits the time of Jeremiah, but their spelling is a mixture of early and late forms.

For more on Dr. Mitka R. Golub's recent work on the onomastic history of biblical and epigraphic names, see here. You can also read some of her articles at her page here. Her technical article on the names in Jeremiah is there. It nuances the argument more than in the Jerusalem Post article.

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