Sunday, June 14, 2009

Greek Inscriptions from Israel 2 Revisited

I don't know about you, but I found Inscription 2 difficult. The transcription below is courtesy of Patrick McCullough at kata ta biblia.
Pat's Transcription:
πολλὰ τὰ ἔτη

Pat's Translation: "(May the) years of glorious proconsul Andreas, fond of building, be many!"
My variation: "[This building was erected] by Andreas, the glorious, fond of building, proconsul, may his years be many."

(1) I didn't know what to do with the letter that looks like a Modern Hebrew Ayin (or the bottom half of the number 8) at the end of lines 1, 3 and 4. The character is apparently a Byzantine era abbreviation for the diphthong ου that is still used, on occasion, in colloquial modern Greek. (More information on ligatures here.)
(2) Pat's transcription of the article τα makes good grammatical sense, but it looks like an eta to me. Is this also an abbreviation?
(3) Is the omega in ενδοξω a typo for ου or is it dative? If the latter, why?
(4) I'm new to reading Greek inscriptions. Where does one learn this stuff? This Byzantine Paleography page is the most helpful thing I've found yet, but it doesn't deal directly with inscriptions. And here's a post on Byzantine Greek Fonts with ligatures. Is there a better reference anywhere online?

These two mosaic inscriptions from Caesarea are just a tiny sampling. A search of Brown University's excellent site devoted to Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine yields 317 inscriptions from Caesarea produced during the common era, with transcriptions, detailed descriptions, and publication information, but no pictures.

Greek Inscription # 3 from Capernaum will be easier!

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