B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) is the alternate designation corresponding to B.C. often used in scholarly literature.


By “tradent” we mean the receiver, shaper and transmitter of tradition.



The Egyptians attributed the XVth and XVIth Dynasties to the Hyksos. “Hyksos” is a rendering of an Egyptian term for “foreign ruler.” They ruled in the 18th and in the first half of the 17th centuries B.C.E.


Sir Alan Gardiner in his famous paper of 1915, “The Egyptian Origin of the Alphabet,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 3 (1916), pp. 1–16, attributed the inscriptions to the XIIth Egyptian Dynasty, which came to an end in the early 18th century B.C.E.


Flinders Petrie was the most famous of the founders of Palestinian archaeology. He also dug in Egypt and Sinai.


William F. Albright, “The Early Alphabetic Inscriptions from Sinai and Their Decipherment,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) 110 (1948), pp. 6–22; and Itzhak Beit-Arieh, “Serabit el-Khadim: New Metallurgical and Chronological Aspects,” Levant 17 (1985), pp. 89–116.


The earliest inscriptions with hard dates (late 16th century) are those published by Joe D. Seger, “The Gezer Jars Signs: New Evidence of the Earliest Alphabet,” in The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth [David Noel Freedman Festschrift], ed. C.L. Myers and M.O’Connor (Winona Lake, IN: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1983), pp. 477–495.


The Amarna Tablets—found in Tell-el Amarna in Egypt—are written in cuneiform, in the Akkadian lingua franca of diplomatic correspondence in the 14th century B.C.E. between Egypt and Egyptian vassals of Syria-Palestine, as well as between the great powers: Egypt, the Hittite kingdom, Mitanni and Mesopotamia.


Frank Moore Cross, “Newly Discovered Inscribed Arrowheads of the 11th Century B.C.E.,” Israel Museum Journal, vol. 10 (1992), pp. 57–62 and Cross, “An Inscribed Arrowhead of the Eleventh Century B.C.E. in the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem,” Eretz-Israel 23 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion, 1992), pp. 21–26.


See Cross, “An Interpretation of the Nora Stone,” BASOR 208 (1972), p. 19; and “Leaves from an Epigraphist’s Notebook,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 36 (1974), pp. 486–494. These two papers are reprinted in Studies in Sardinian Archaeology, ed. Miriam S. Balmuth and R.J. Rowland (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1982, pp. 53–66; also more recently, Cross, “Phoenicians in the West,” in Studies in Sardinian Archaeology II: Sardinia in the Mediterranean, ed. M.S. Balmuth (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1986), pp. 116–130; and “The Oldest Phoenician Inscription from Sardinia: The Fragmentary Stele from Nora,” in “Working With No Data:” Semitic and Egyptian Studies Presented in Thomas O. Lambdin, ed. David M. Golomb (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1987), pp. 65–74. For a different dating of the Nora inscription, see Edward Lipínski, “Epigraphy in Crisis—Dating Ancient Semitic Inscriptions,” BAR 16:04.


The most influential of the defenders of this late date was Rhys Carpenter. See his “The Antiquity of the Greek Alphabet,” American Journal of Archaeology 37 (1933), pp. 8–29. The discovery of Phrygian inscriptions (a daughter script of Greek) from Gordion dating to the middle and second half of the eighth century renders the seventh century date impossible. Rhys Carpenter dated the development of the Phrygian script from the Greek after 600.


Martin Bernal’s attempt to place the transmission of the alphabet to the Aegean before 1400 B.C.E. I believe to be without merit. See his Cadmean Letters: The Transmission of the Alphabet to the Aegean and Further West Before 1400 B.C. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1992).


See Albright, “Neglected Factors in the Greek Intellectual Revolution,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 116 (1972), pp. 225–242.


We label the seventh-century Deuteronomist DTR1, the Exilic Deuteronomist DTR2. The former was a propaganda work of the late seventh-century court of Josiah, reviewing Israel’s history in order motivate the reform of Josiah. The latter retouches Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic history in the interests of transforming it into an elaborate sermon justifying Israel’s exile, underlining Israel’s breach of covenant and apostasy, and defending the justice and sovereignty of Israel’s God.