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Full Version: What is the difference between Block Hebrew - Aramaic?
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Hi Paul
Thanks for this great website and the great translation into English of the Peshitta. I am very greatfull.
Few questions on the aramaic side. OK I see that the Aramaic Script of the Peshitta is in Modern or Syriac Aramaic. I have a great difficulty in understanding exactly what Block Hebrew Aramaic is. Is that really Hebrew or Aramaic. I see many manuscripts which state that they are Aramaic but it looks like Block Hebrew. So what is it? Is it Hebrew or Aramaic? Would appreciate an explanation.

regards
LR <!-- s:tellme: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/tellme.gif" alt=":tellme:" title="Tell Me" /><!-- s:tellme: -->
Shlama and welcome to the forum.

Paul can give you much more detailed background on this than I would ever have time for but I would simply say, the "block Hebrew" (if you are referring to the square Hebrew K'tav Ashuri) is used in modern Hebrew and sometimes publications of Aramaic. It closely resembles the older form of Hebrew script.

The Estrangela is the Aramaic script used by Arameans in writing and printing the Peshitta (traditionally) and liturgy.

Examples:

Estrangela/o of Matthew 1:1 [Image: estra-mtt1.jpg]

Same thing as above but in square Hebrew: [Image: sqheb-mtt1.jpg]

Essentially it's the same thing, only different ways of writing it - two different scripts or styles to write the same language. For some people it's much easier to read and comprehend the "square Hebrew" script.

Push b'shlama,
thanks yaaqubyl
I thought that the Block Hebrew was based on Imperial Aramaic, known as ketav Ashuri. Am I right in saying that modren Aramaic (Asyrian, Estrangela) is different from Imperial Aramaic. Sorry I am not an expert. I suspect all the modern Block Hebrew is Imperial Aramaic including Torah Hebrew. The old Proto Hebrew is no longer in use and has notbeen for 2500 years, except for the few Samaritans who still exist. They claim to still use Proto Hebrew. But I have another question, was the Estrangela in use in 1 CE or was it the Imperial Aramaic that was used to write the NT.

LR
Dear LR,

[BASIC INFO STUFF DELETED]

Ooops, our posts crossed apparently. I think what you are after is the history of different scripts and how they developed.

Btw, have you looked at dukhrana.com ? Great resource. You can display there Peshitta Aramaic text in different Serto and Estrangelo fonts.

Peace and blessings,
Jerzy
Dear Jerzy
Thanks ..a great site...
LR
LightRay Wrote:Hi Paul
Thanks for this great website and the great translation into English of the Peshitta. I am very greatfull.
Few questions on the aramaic side. OK I see that the Aramaic Script of the Peshitta is in Modern or Syriac Aramaic. I have a great difficulty in understanding exactly what Block Hebrew Aramaic is. Is that really Hebrew or Aramaic. I see many manuscripts which state that they are Aramaic but it looks like Block Hebrew. So what is it? Is it Hebrew or Aramaic? Would appreciate an explanation.

regards
LR <!-- s:tellme: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/tellme.gif" alt=":tellme:" title="Tell Me" /><!-- s:tellme: -->

Hey LR,

Welcome to our forum.....

That's a question I get often, even at church - part of the confusion stems from mixing language names with what can be thought of as a "font". Hebrew and Aramaic are, of course, languages. Unfortunately for clarity's sake, the names of their respective modern (relatively-speaking) scripts are also "Hebrew" and "Aramaic."

In reality, the scripts used today by these languages are not the same scripts they started out with.

What is called "Hebrew Script" today is actually an Aramaic script, hence the name "Ktav Ashuri"....."Assyrian writing" (the Assyrian of course refers to the imperial script used in Assyria).

The script used in this website, Estrangelo, also descends ultimately from the Aramaic script used in Assyria......however, the Hebrew script resembles the block nature of Imperial Assyrian Aramaic much more closely than does the Estrangelo.

As to your other question - why the Hebrew script is used to write in non-Hebrew languages (especially, in the Aramaic language) .... that's because both languages have the same 22-letter alphabet. Hebrew script can be used to write in Hebrew or in Aramaic. For that matter, Estrangelo can be used to write in Aramaic or in Hebrew.

Think of them as different fonts of the same alphabet. It's really no different than English and Spanish using the same letters to write in two different languages.

Take care!
But wasn't the Dead Sea Scroll font used at the time of the writing of the Peshitta? Where does the Dead Sea Scroll font fit in the history of the scripts?

Otto
ograabe Wrote:But wasn't the Dead Sea Scroll font used at the time of the writing of the Peshitta? Where does the Dead Sea Scroll font fit in the history of the scripts?

Otto

Shlama Akhi Otto,

The "Dead Sea Scroll" font forms a part of the evolution of the modern Hebrew script.

Please reference below the chart which outlines the evolution of what is called "Hebrew" script today (Ktav Ashuri). The order of progression is from left-to-right, with the rightmost portion being the most contemporary version (roughly the last 1,000 years or so.)

The books of of the OT were most likely written in the form referred to below as the "Paleo-Phoenician". The books of the NT were most likely written in the form referred to below as the "Papyri in Late Aramaic" (popularly known as "Dead Sea Scrolls" script).

[Image: hebrew_evolution.jpg]

Please keep in mind that this is the evolution of the writing style of the Jewish People. Other Aramaic scripts were in use contemporary with the scripts below, in different geographic areas, such as Estrangelo. The evolution of Estrangelo starts off the same as the modern Hebrew script, but branches off on its own roughly after Palmyrian.

The reason why the modern Hebrew script is called "Assyrian" (Ktav Ashuri) is because the radical departure of the shape of the letters after the captivity. The image below shows the letters as used in the city of Palmyra: (see the bottom of the column)

[Image: Palmyra_Zenobia_inscription.JPG]

The oldest surviving Peshitta manuscripts are in the Estrangelo script, so that's why most people use that. The original Peshitta textual font would probably have looked a lot more like the "Papyri in Late Aramaic" script.

The Samaritans, BTW, still use to this day that first original script in the left-most column. Their copies of the books of Moses are still copied in that script.