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scriptura quadrata

Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


The Hebrew square script which came into existence after the decline of the Persian empire as an offshoot of the Aramaic script. The earliest inscriptions date from the middle of the third century bce . The scriptura quadrata , or ‘Hebrew square’, replaced the Old Hebrew (Canaanite) script as the script of the Jewish scriptures and thus became the Jewish script as such. Its name refers to the equidimensional frames of the letters. Initially, only Cs were expressed in square Hebrew but, when biblical Hebrew was superseded as a spoken language by Aramaic, systems of vocalization by means of M atres lectionis and P unctuation evolved. In the early Middle Ages the masoretes systematized V diacritics. Well-proportioned and regular in appearance, the Hebrew square script proved to be remarkably consistent over the centuries ( Figure 6 ). Three slightly different styles evolved: (1) the formal book hand, which is still used almost unchanged; (2) the rabbinical hand mostly used for commentaries of the scriptures, e.g. the Italian R aschi script ; (3) cursive hands for everyday usage. See also H ebrew writing ; S emitic writing . Reading Birnbaum 1971. Figure 6 Scriptura quadrata: a Jewish wedding contract written at Maddelena, Italy, 23 August 1839 (From the collections of the Hebraic Section, African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress.) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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