Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

#1018 Ancient Alphabet Discovery

Here’s fast for you. Today’s New York Times has an article on the discovery of the earliest known Hebrew alphabet. And that just happens to be the topic of this week’s BOOK & THE SPADE program. Actually our program was taped last week. John Noble Wilford must’ve seen the same item we saw, and did an interview with archaeologist Ron Tappy. We’ll have Tappy on the program in a few weeks. But first we want to allow time for other scholars to react at the Annual Meetings that will be attended by archaeologists from all over the world.

One important note here, we’re talking about the Hebrew alphabet. There are earlier alphabet discoveries, most notably in Egypt. Until recently, scholars thought the earliest alphabet came from Serabit el-Khadem in the Sinai, a proto-Canaanite script it was called. The last time we discussed this topic, it was about a discovery by Yale University Egyptologist, Dr John Darnell, at Wadi el-Hol in upper Egypt that pushed the chronology back a few hundred more years.

You’re probably also been hearing a lot of coverage of what may be the world’s oldest church, discovered at a prison near Israel’s Tel Megiddo, already one of the most important sites in Biblical Archaeology. The best story on it may have been the one in The Washington Post. The best photos seemed to be at the National Geographic. We’ll cover this in an upcoming program, probably next week. I’m looking for a little more informed reaction from scholars, instead of a lot of guessing that’s been mostly featured so far. Have a great week.


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