The World's Oldest Alphabet: Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-consonantal Script

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For close to 150 years, scholars have attempted to identify the language of the world's oldest alphabetic script and to translate the inscriptions that use it, which were found in the Sinai Peninsula and date from 1842 to 1446 BCE. Until now, scholars have accomplished little more than identifying most of the pictographic letters and translating a few of the Semitic words. In The World's Oldest Alphabet, however, Douglas Petrovich presents a thorough, detailed defense of his bold new claims concerning these writings. Petrovich claims to have resolved all of the disputed letters and to have identified the language as Hebrew, which allows him to translate all of the inscriptions. Furthermore, he argues that they explicitly name three biblical figures and greatly illuminate the earliest Israelite history in a way that nothing else has, apart from the Bible.

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Enjoyed reading the book, although it requires a lot of concentration. Douglas Petrovich succeeded in translating few ancient inscriptions, something that no one before him was able to accomplish. He was successful because of his deep knowledge of Biblical Hebrew. By the time I finished the book I was able to read the inscriptions myself. The most impressive of all is one of the inscriptions that mentions the name of Akhisamakh, father of Oholiab who was one of the wise men in charge of Tabernacle construction. Incredible! 

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This is a very difficult book to read. The author has proven his point about the development of the proto-Sinaitic alphabet being basic Hebrew. The translations of the various inscriptions often seem reasonable, but due to the damaged nature of these writings I find it impossible to agree or disagree with his conclusions. Petrovich appears to have advanced the study beyond Albright. The book is certainly a profitable exercise. 

About the author (2016)

Douglas Petrovich (Ph.D., M.A., Th.M., M.Div.) teaches on Ancient Egypt at Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada). He formerly was the academic dean and a professor at Novosibirsk Biblical-Theological Seminary (Russia), as well as at Shepherds Theological Seminary (U.S.A.). He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, with a major in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology, a first minor in ancient Egyptian language, and a second minor in ancient Near Eastern religions.

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