Sunday, October 25, 2015

Anglo-Saxon faux Hebrew

ANGLO-SAXON SCRIBES READ HEBREW, WROTE HEBREW (SOMETIMES BADLY), AND EVEN FAKED HEBREW: Fort Wayne English instructor turns medieval spy (Jamie Duffy, AP).

How interesting. You find something similar to the faked Hebrew in a good many Babylonian incantation bowls from around the seventh century C.E. Apparently some of the magicians who produced the bowls knew the Aramaic incantations verbally, but were themselves illiterate. Since their clients were also illiterate, this didn't really matter. They just produced bowls inscribed with realistic-looking squiggles that weren't even actual letters. Presumably they then performed the correct ritual and recited the correct incantation, buried the bowl under the client's threshold to drive away demons, and took payment. Everyone was happy.

I'm not suggesting that the Anglo-Saxon scribes wrote fake Hebrew for the same reasons. Read the article for more on what they many have been about.