Bible Review 8:3, June 1992

Were Words Separated in Ancient Hebrew Writing?

By Alan R. Millard

Twice in recent issues of Bible Review, in otherwise excellent articles, Harvey Minkoff has asserted that “Ancient [Hebrew] manuscripts generally did not leave space between words.”a Writing without word divisions is called scriptio continua, or continuous writing.

Ancient Greek was commonly written like that. Stone monuments from Athens and other Greek cities, Greek papyri found in Egypt, classical and biblical manuscripts in Greek all show line after line of letters in unbroken sequences.

Some scholars—and I regret to say Professor Minkoff is among them—have assumed that Hebrew scribes also wrote in scriptio continua. Yet only a superficial look at ancient Hebrew documents is sufficient prove that this is untrue.

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