“1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. “
So how were these opening words to the Bible written? In what language and by what method were they transcribed? We tend to think that writing has always been there. It hasn’t. Even with the advent of the tribes of Israel it was not yet formed and as a result the poetry would be missing. Certainly they talked but what else was available to them then? What alphabet was written down?
There was writing at the time by the Egyptians and Sumerians but is not easily used though the Gilgamesh epic was recorded using wedges (cunieform) on clay tablets. The Egyptians used a pictograph version that use hieroglyphs that were not easily transcribed as they used multiple symbols that were elaborately evolved and could be written with a pen on a piece of parchment without much effort and not interpreted by many. The Sumerians used wedges to transcribe on clay tablets which would have been heavy to transport. The a new idea and technique emerged on the Mediterranean side of Canna thought of and developed by the Phoenicians (from which comes our term phonetics) to sound out words and this was picked up by the Hebrews.
From Wikiapepedia: The history of writing records the development of expressing language by letters or other marks. In the history of how systems of representation of language through graphic means have evolved in different human civilizations, more complete writing systems were preceded by proto-writing, systems of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbol. True writing, in which the entire content of a linguistic utterance is encoded so that another reader can reconstruct, with a fair degree of accuracy, the exact utterance written down, is a later development, and is distinguished from proto-writing in that the latter typically avoids encoding grammatical words and affixes, making it difficult or impossible to confidently reconstruct the exact meaning intended by the writer unless a great deal of context is already known in advance.
Here is a concept for you. A People have a spoken language with sounds. Suppose we break these sounds into letters. Remember your grade school teacher having you say aloud in class the alphabet and to sound out each of the letters such as “C”=ca, “A=ahh, “T”=Tat. So what do you get from putting those sounds together? You get “CAT”. What you do is say the sounds phonetically and end up with a word you understand.
How did this develop over the millennia? A conventional “proto-writing to true writing” system follows a general series of developmental stages:
· Picture writing system: glyphs directly represent objects and ideas or objective and ideational situations. In connection with this the following sub stages may be distinguished:
1. The mnemonic: glyphs primarily a reminder;
2. The pictographic (pictography): glyphs represent directly an object or an objective situation such as (A) chronological, (B) notices, (C) communications, (D) totems, titles, and names, (E) religious, (F) customs, (G) historical, and (H) biographical;
3. The ideographic (ideography): glyphs represent directly an idea or an ideational situation.
· Transitional system: glyphs refer not only to the object or idea which it represents but to its name as well.
· Phonetic system: glyphs refer to sounds or spoken symbols irrespective of their meanings. This resolves itself into the following sub stages:
1. The verbal: glyph (logogram) represents a whole word;
2. The syllabic: glyph represent a syllable;
3. The alphabetic: glyph represents an elementary sound.
The best known picture writing system of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols are:
· Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise shells in Jiahu, ca. 6600 BC
· Vinča signs (Tărtăria tablets), ca. 5300 BC
· Early Indus script, ca. 3500 BC
In the Old World, true writing systems developed from neolithic writing in the Early Bronze Age (4th millennium BC). The Sumerian archaic cuneiform script and the Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest true writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400–3200 BC with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC.
What else have we discovered about the history recorded in the Bible about the history of the time? There was great excitement when a pottery shard mentioned “The House of David”. Is that all? Just one shard? For a story that takes up a major portion of the Bible? Remember it was written down long after the House of David was in existance if it was in the form recorded.
A breakthrough in the research of the Hebrew Scriptures has shed new light on the period in which the Bible was written. Professor Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has deciphered an inscription on a pottery shard discovered in the Elah valley dating from the 10th century BCE (the period of King David’s reign), and has shown that this is a Hebrew inscription. The discovery makes this the earliest known Hebrew writing. The significance of this breakthrough relates to the fact that at least some of the biblical scriptures were composed hundreds of years before the dates presented today in research and that the Kingdom of Israel already existed at that time. Credit: Courtesy of the University of Haifa
In a previous article on whether Moses as the liberator of the Hebrews even existed or was simply created from other stories told around campfires and whether the battles described as taking place in Canna ever actually happened despite no evidence brings into focus more attention as to whether in supposedly happening before there was writing they actually did.
In the history of man writing using letters at represent sounds rather tah concepts is a relatively recent phenomena. We have through the millennia gone from drawing a picture (or pictograph) of a boat sitting next to a symbol of water to saying “The boat is sitting next to the water.”
From that we get “1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. “
The fact that you can now read this sentence makes you lucky to be able to take advantage of a recent development in the history of man for which we should all be grateful. So do we have the belief that God (to whom, “A thousand years is but a day.”) was sitting in heaven thinking I will be so glad when these people develope writing so that I can inspire them.