[b-greek] Re: 1st Century Inscriptions

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Mon Jul 31 2000 - 01:54:29 EDT

on 07/30/00 6:54 AM, Ekaterini Tsalampouni wrote:

> As a matter of fact I have already read the book of Levinskaya and I can
> agree with you that is really good. The focus of the book is on the
> missionary activity of 1st century Judaism and the Godfearers but she also
> presents the evidence about the Jewish Diaspora from the cities of the
> Greco-Roman world mentioned in the Acts. She also discusses the problem of
> the cult of Theos Hypsistos, a very interesting cult indeed, and she
> contests its Jewish background.


I also find

> the cult of Theos Hypsistos, a very interesting cult indeed

Which is why I spend some time on one of the inscriptions.

The first plate in Levinskaya's book (3, I, I CIRB 64; IGRR I, 873) is an
inscription which begins QEW UYICTW (C is sigma) and is dated AD 306.
Levinskaya describes this monument as an inscription from the Bosporan
Kingdom found in Kertch (??) in 1901-1903. The first thing that caught my
eye was the way that epsilon and sigma were carved rectangularly in four
places but in every other case they were lunate (curved). The lunate sigma
looks like a C. The lunated epsilon looks like a C which has been corrected
to be an epsilon. These letter forms are unremarkable but in four cases (two
sigmas and two epsilons) the letters are carved with square edges.

I became somewhat obsessed with the analysis of these four rectangular
letters. I transcribed whole thing and underlined the rectangular letters to
see what I could make of their placement.

The rectangular epsilons are both letters in the middle of a word. One
rectangular epsilon is in the middle of the first word of the first line of
the inscription QEW UYICTW. If we read QEW as a name (dubious) then both of
the rectangular epsilons are in names. One of the rectangular epsilons is
line final but not word final if you accept the transcription that
Levinskaya provides.

The rectangular sigmas are both word final and line final. One rectangular
sigma is in a name and one is in what looks to me like a word fragment that
comes after a vacant space. Levinskaya transcribes this word fragment as

So we have three line final words and perhaps three letters in names and one
letter in a word fragment or possibly the word OS.

I know nothing about inscriptions made in the Bosporan Kingdom just after AD
300. Perhaps switching between a rectangular and lunate epsilon and/or sigma
is business as usual. I did scan over what I could read in the other plates
in this book and found no other examples of this problem.

Why did I spend time on this? Well I guess I have read to many of Cyrus
Gordon's popular works.

Thank You Ekaterini,


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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