The Oral-Written Textuality of Stichographic Poetry in the Dead Sea Scrolls

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
Author: Shem Miller1
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Textuality in antiquity differs significantly from that of modern Western culture in which the text exists as a fixed, idealized abstraction. In antiquity reading was speaking, and stichography is a visual representation of this interface between speech and writing. Stichography’s spatialization displays scribes’ perception of the spoken text including the concomitants of oral performance. Stichography also reflects scribes’ attentiveness to the readership’s experience with the performed or inscribed text. Scribes interacted with compositions as authors, adapting them according to the exigencies of specific performance events. As a result, the transmission of a specific written layout can supersede parallelismus membrorum; nevertheless, parallelism is a constitutive device in the majority of stichographic texts. The demarcation of sense units elicits two symbiotic social uses, both of which are also implied by the content of the canon. Stichographic texts provide a formatted reference point that is styled to facilitate oral performance and pedagogy.

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