SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Baker, David Weston (1981) Some Scribal Techniques in Ancient Israel With Other Semitic Parallels. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (15MB) | Preview


This thesis examines selected ancient Semitic scribal techniques. The main source document is the Hebrew Old Testament, with illumination also found in extra-biblical texts (at times autographs rather than later copies, as is the Masoretic text). The first discussion concerns text descriptions. A study of subscripts, especially colophons, results in the refutation of Gevaryahu's claims that some biblical headings were originally colophons. A synthetic study of headings, both specific titles and more general descriptions, follows with special emphasis on incipits, several of which are now identified in the Old Testament. Some types of description are shown to be secondary, scribal additions, while others could be original. Textual divisions are studied under two categories: those which can be studied situ in autograph texts, and those which are determined internally due to the lack of autographs. This includes the Masoretic text, using Genesis, Leviticus 1-7 and Amos here as case studies. These are found to correspond to divisions externally determined in extra-biblical texts, thus providing some control in the division of the biblical text. A study of glosses and notes critiques the methodology of G.R. Driver and others in determining the presence of these, and analyses them from the more objective evidence provided by explicit temporal notes, the waw explicativum, and circumstantial clauses. Finally, there is a study of abbreviations, a number of which have been proposed for the Old Testament by G.R. Driver and others. Based on the analysis of objective abbreviations in other Semitic languages, their existance in the Old Testament is called into question, at least in the scale previously proposed. Scribes are thus shown to effect various aspects of the text, espcially its structure and description. Even the internal content can show evidence of scribal practice.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item