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Appendix 13.

Appendix 13.
Writing Mentioned in the Old Testament.

It is true no doubt that in several books of the Old Testament writing writers and written books are spoken of as well known in very ancient times. But a scribe who was himself familiar with writing might easily forget himself and transfer his ideas about writing to earlier ages. Thus Mr. Butler when discussing the question whether written books existed before the time of Hilkiah forgets himself so far as to say (p. 74) ‘that there were laws or traditions of law in the courts and memories of oral decisions and that some of the laws may have been printed we cannot doubt.’ Scholars cannot help speaking of Vedic literature though they know quite well that literae written letters had nothing to do with it. In the same way we can well understand that the Jews spoke of Moses as writing the laws though he only composed them. We read of scribes and chroniclers for the first time at the courts of David and Solomon but there is nothing to prove that these scribes were acquainted with alphabetic writing. It has been supposed that like his masons and carpenters these scribes might have been sent by king Hiram from Phenicia but it has never been proved that alphabetic writing for literary purposes was known even in Phenicia at that early time. David's letter to Joab about Uriah (2 Sum. xi. 15) seems the first authentic specimen of epistolary writing but even here mere σήματα λυγρά as in the case of Proetos and Bellerophon1 would have answered every purpose. We never hear of Elijah writing anything.

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