Secunda (Hexapla)

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The Secunda is the second column of Origen's Hexapla, a compilation of the Hebrew Bible and Greek versions.[1] It consists of a transliteration of the Hebrew text of the Hebrew Bible into Greek characters, and is the oldest coherent Hebrew text in existence.[2] As such it serves as an important document for Hebrew philology, in particular the study of Biblical Hebrew phonology.

Authorship[edit]

There is contention as to whether the Secunda was written by Origen, a contemporary, or was a copy of a preexisting older text.[2] Some suppose that Origen wrote the text himself, perhaps with Jewish helpers.[2] Others suppose that the Secunda was a preexisting text, added into the Hexapla as an aid for the reader.[2] There is evidence that Jews of the time made use of transcriptions; for instance a passage in the Jerusalem Talmud describing how the Jews of Caesarea would misread the tetragrammaton as the graphically similar <πιπι>, suggesting the use of transcribed texts with the tetragrammaton preserved in Hebrew characters.[3] There is also phonetic evidence for the Secunda being a preexisting text. By the time of Origen <η αι> were pronounced [iː ɛː], a merger which had already begun around 100 BCE, while in the Secunda they are used to represent Hebrew /eː aj/.[3]

Orthography[edit]

The text of the Secunda uses various Greek diacritics:

A diaeresis is used on the character iota (<ι> to <ϊ>) precisely when iota occurs after a vowel, except when <ει> indicates /iː/.[4] This is completely independent of whether the segment is consonantal or vocalic in Hebrew, as the following examples attest:[4]

<αλαϊ> = Tiberian /ʕaːlaj/
<φεδιων> = Tiberian /piðjoːn/

The diaeresis was a later addition of the 8th or 9th century to the Secunda.[4]

The use of rough and smooth breathing signs does not follow an obvious pattern; for example, compare <ἀμιμ> = Tiberian /ʕamːiːm/ versus <ἁφαρ> = Tiberian /ʕaːfaːr/.[5] These signs were also an addition of the 8th or 9th century.[5]

The use of accents in the Secunda does not correspond with stress in Masoretic Hebrew; their presence remains a puzzle.[6]

Reflexes of proto-Semitic vowels[7]
Original
vowel:
a i u
Secunda long
α

η

ω
aː/oː
α/ω
iː/eː
ι/η
uː/oː
ου/ω
short æ
α
e
ε
o
ο
reduced ə
α/ε/-
ə
α/ε/-
ə
α/ε/-

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Janssens, Gerard (1982). "Studies in Hebrew Historical Linguistics Based on Origen's Secunda". Orientalia Gandensia (Uitgeverij Peeters) 9. ISBN 2-8017-0189-0.