Mother of all alphabets
I am one of the few who believe that the modern chronology of the ancient world needs a major revision, not only to be consistent with the Old Testament scriptures, but also to be internally consistent. A number of excellent attempts have been made, any one of which offers a more consistent chronology than that which is provided by the status quo.
One of the most thorough of these revisions was by a man named Donavan Courville, in his rare work, The Exodus Problem and it's Ramifications. It is not the last word, but it an excellent, if a rather deep, introduction to the subject.
It is likely that none of the attempted revisions gets it all right. Re-discovering the past is not easy. However, there are a number of points which any serious revision of the ancient timeline will correct. Among them:
- Israel did not adopt the culture, language, and art of the Canaanites during the Conquest. They replaced it.
- There was no "dark age of Greece" during which all culture and language, essentially, ceased to exist for a period of some five centuries.
The first of these points is critical. Modern chronology holds that, since there is no evidence of any change in culture, language, or art in the period of time during which the Conquest of Canaan is supposed to have occurred, that instead the Israelites adopted the native culture so completely and thoroughly that they abandoned any culture of their own. Thus there is no evidence of the Conquest. How anyone can take this theory seriously is beyond me.
In fact, in a properly revised chronology, it is relatively simple to identify the period of time when the Conquest takes place, for there is indeed an archeological strata that occurs much earlier when what is currently considered to be the Canaanite culture takes over from the land from a previous people. Interestingly, this invading culture shows strong Egyptian influences. Likewise, in this revised chronology it becomes trivial to identify the cities of Jericho and Ai. The difficulty that modern archeology has had is not in finding the evidence, but in their imposing a false chronology on the evidence that they already had.
The consequence of such a revision is this: The culture which modern archeologists identify as "Canaanite" is actually Israelite.
Here's the kicker: This means that the alphabets which are presently regarded as proto-Canaanite and Phoenician are not Canaanite at all. They are "proto-Hebrew" and "Hebrew". This is, quite simply, a stunning revelation. For you language and alphabet buffs, this means that all your charts are wrong. You can replace ever use of the word "Phoenician" on your charts with the word "Hebrew".
The presumption for the last 150 years or so has been that the Phoenicians borrowed the proto-canaanite alphabet in making their own alphabet, and that the early Israelites borrowed the Phoenician alphabet, and used it until they adopted the Assyrian script which they still use to this day. This is all wrong.
The Phoenicians borrowed the Hebrew alphabet, and carried it throughout the western world. It is the root alphabet for all modern Western systems of writing. The Greeks adapted it, and in fact originally wrote their language from right to left. Centuries of refinement led to the Greek script which was in use throughout the western world during the New Testament era. The Latin alphabet was a refinement and adaptation of the Greek forms. Even our letter names derive originally from Hebrew: Aleph, Alpha, A; Beth, Beta, B, etc.
This fact also explains a conundrum for modern Egyptologists: Why it is that they have found proto-canaanite Script in Egypt centuries before they should be there. It's out of place until you understand that it's not proto-Canaanite. It's Hebrew.
Here's an interesting question: Is Moses responsible for standardizing the "proto-Canaanite" alphabet into the "Phoenician" form which became the common script of Israel until the Babylonian Captivity? If so, this would mean that the "Phoenician" alphabet was a necessary revision to make possible the writing and transmission of the Pentateuch. This would also mean that all modern systems of western writing can trace their origin to God's command to Moses to write down and distribute His Word.