Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Scr-lls S-- D--d (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Susan and I toured the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit today at the Cincinnati Museum.  That and today's selection of Pope Francis I make it a reverent day.  A contrast in time and location - 400BC in caves of Qumran to today in Rome. 

Technology has played a key role in religious growth - parchment, the Gutenberg Press, and yes the Mac (which was at the exhibit also).  I remember Susan organizing Martin Abegg to speak at the Indian Hill Church Adult Lecture Series (1998).  Martin Abegg was the graduate student at Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati) that took the concordance and programmed a Mac (1991) to produce the unpublished text and broke the stronghold of the Israel Antiquities Authority's  long-standing restrictions on the use of the scrolls.

There were only about 10 or 12 parts of the scroll on exhibit with Leviticus, Ezekiel, and Psalms as the books represented.  The audio and visual commentaries added great color to the other physical items of pottery, coin, clothing and artifacts spanning thousands of years. 

The print was small (big by computer standards probably 16-18 font) and surprisingly dark.  Written in Hebrew, it brought to mind the specifics I learned from Susan in her study of Hebrew - read from right to left with no vowels.  It made me wonder - why are some languages (and text) read horizontal right to left vs left to right or vertically (top to bottom like Chinese)?

(1) Easier to carve in stone (hold mallet in right hand, peg in left)
(2) Right hander scribes tried to avoid smudging their work?
(3) Hold brush in right hand and unroll scroll with left?
(4) Early periods of more left handers
(5) Start a beginning of cave or end of cave?


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