The breakthrough of the alphabetic script early in the first millennium BCE
coincides with the appearance of several new languages and civilizations in
ancient Syria-Palestine. Together, they form the cultural setting in which
ancient Israel, the Hebrew Bible, and, transformed by Hellenism, the New
Testament took shape. This book contains concise yet thorough and lucid
overviews of ancient Near Eastern languages united by alphabetic writing and
illuminates their interaction during the first 1000 years of their attestation. All
chapters are informed by the most recent scholarship, contain fresh insights,
provide numerous examples from the most pertinent sources, and share a
clear historical framework that makes it easier to trace processes of contact
and convergence in this highly diversified speech area. They also address
non-specialists. The following topics are discussed: Alphabetic writing (A.
Millard), Ugaritic (A. Gianto), Phoenician and Hebrew (H. Gzella),
Transjordanian languages (K. Beyer), Old and Imperial Aramaic (M. Folmer),
Epigraphic South Arabian (R. Hasselbach), Old Persian (M. de Vaan/A.
Lubotsky), Greek (A. Willi).