Reference: Old Testament
The conscientious preservation of the discrepancies of parallel passages (as Psalm 14 and Psalm 53; Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22; Isaiah 36-39; and 2 Kings 18-20; Jeremiah 52 and 2 Kings 24-25; Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7), notwithstanding the temptation to assimilate them, proves the accuracy of Ezra and his associates in transmitting the Scriptures to us. The Maccabean coins and the similar Samaritan character preserve for us the alphabetical characters in which the text was written, resembling those in use among the Phoenicians. The targums, shortly before Christ, introduced the modern Aramaic or square characters now used for Hebrew.
Keil however attributes these to Ezra. No vowel points were used, but in the later books matres lectionis or vowel letters. The words were separated by spaces, except those closely connected. Sections, parshioth, are marked by commencing a new line or by blank spaces. The greater parshioth are the sabbath lessons marked in the Mishna, and perhaps dating from the introduction of the square letters; distinct from the verse divisions made in Christian times. Pesukim is the term for "verses." The Septuagint and Samaritan Pentateuch are the oldest documents with which to criticize our Hebrew text. Gesenius has shown the inferiority of the Samaritan text to our Hebrew Pentateuch:
(1) it substitutes common for unusual grammatical forms;
(2) it admits glosses into the text;
(3) it emends difficult passages, substituting easier readings;
(4) it corrects and adds words from parallel passages;
(5) it interpolates from them;
(6) it removes historical and other difficulties of the subject matter;
(7) Samaritanisms in language;
(8) passages made to agree with the Samaritan theology.
However, as a help in arriving at the text in difficult passages, it has its use. The Samaritan text agrees with the Septuagint in more than one thousand places where both differ from the Masoretic, yet their independence is shown in that the Septuagint agree with the Masoretic in a thousand places, and both herein differ from the Samaritan text. A revised text existed probably along with our Hebrew one in the centuries just before Christ, and was used by the Septuagint. The Samaritans altered it still more (Gesenius); so it became "the Alexandrian Samaritan text." The Samaritans certainly did not receive their Pentateuch from the Israelite northern kingdom, for they have not received the books of Israel's prophets, Hosea, Jonah, Amos. Being pagan, they probably had the Pentateuch first introduced among them from Judah by Manasseh and other priests who joined them at the time of the building of the Mount Gerizim temple.
Josephus (contra Apion i. 8) boasts that through all past ages none had added to, or taken from, or transposed, aught of the sacred writings. The Greek translation of Aquila mainly agrees with ours. So do the targums of Onkelos and Jonathan. Origen in the Hexapla, and especially Jerome, instructed by Palestinian Jews in preparing the Vulgate, show a text identical with ours in even the traditional unwritten vowel readings. The learning of the schools of Hillel and Shammai in Christ's time was preserved, after Jerusalem's fall, in those of Jabneh, Sepphoris, Caesarea, and Tiberias. R. Judah the Holy compiled the Mishna, the Talmud text, before A. D. 220. The twofold Gemara, or commentary, completed the Talmud; the Jerusalem Gemara of the Jews of Tiberias was written at the end of the fourth century; the Babylonian emanated from the schools on the Euphrates at the end of the fifth century. Their assigning the interpretation to the targumist, as distinguished from the transcriber, secured the text from the conjectural interpolations otherwise to be apprehended.
The Talmudic doctors counted the verses in each book, and which was the middle verse, word, and letter in the Pentateuch, and in the psalms, marking it by a large letter or one raised above the line (Le 11:42; Ps 80:14). The Talmudists have a note, "read, but not written," to mark what ought to be read though not in the text, at 2Sa 8:3; 16:23; Jer 31:38; 50:29; Ru 2:11; 3:5,17; also "written but not (to be) read," 2Ki 5:18; De 6:1; Jer 51:3; Eze 48:16; Ru 3:12. So the Masoretic Qeri's (marginal readings) in Job 13:15; Hag 1:8. Their scrupulous abstinence from introducing what they believed the truer readings guarantees to us both their critical care in examining the text and their reverence in preserving it intact. They rejected manuscripts not agreeing with others (Taanith Hierosol. 68, section 1). Their rules as to transcribing and adopting manuscripts show their carefulness.
The soph-pasuk (":" colon) marking the verse endings, and the maqqeph ("-" hyphen), joining words, were introduced after the Talmudic time and earlier than the accents. The maqqeph embodies the traditional authority for joining or separating words; words joined by it have only one accent. Translate therefore Ps 45:4 without "and," "meekness-righteousness," i.e. righteousness manifesting itself in meekness. The Masorah, i.e. tradition (first digested by the doctors in the fifth century), compiled in writing the thus accumulated traditions and criticisms, and became a kind of "fence of the law." In the post-Talmudic period THE MASORAH (Buxtorf, Tiberias) notes:
(1) as to the verses, how many are in each book, the middle verse in each; how many begin with certain letters, or end with the same word, or had a certain number of words and letters, or certain words a number of times;
(2) as to the words, the Qeri's (marginal readings) and kethib's (readings of the text); also words found so many times in the beginning, middle, or end of a verse, or with a particular meaning; also in particular words where transcribers' mistakes were likely, whether they were to be written with or without the vowel letters; also the accentuation;
(3) as to the letters, how often each occurred in the Old Testament, etc., etc.
The written Masorah was being formed from the sixth century to the tenth century. Its chief value is its collection of Qeri's, of which some are from the Talmud, many from manuscripts, others from the sole authority of the Masoretes. The Bomberg Bible contains 1171. The small number in the Pentateuch, 43, is due to the greater care bestowed on the law as compared with the other Scriptures. The Masorah is distinguished into magna and parva (an abridgment of the magna, including the Qeri's and printed at the foot of the page). The magna is partly at the side of the text commented on, partly at the end. Their inserting the vowel marks in the text records for us the traditional pronunciation. The vowel system was molded after the Arabian system, and that after the Syrian system. The acceders in their logical signification were called "senses"; in their musical signification, "tones." They occur in the Masorah, not in the Talmud. The very difficulties which are left unremoved, in explaining some passages consistently with the accents and the vowel points, show that both embody, not the Masoretes' private judgment, but the traditions of previous generations.
Walton's Polyglot gives readings also of the Palestinian and of the Babylonian Jews; the former printed first in the Bomberg Bible by R. Jacob ben Chaim, 216 in all, concerning the consonants, except two as to the mappik. Aaron ben Asher, a Palestinian, and R. Jacob, a Babylonian Jew, having collated manuscripts in the 11th century, mention 864 different readings of vowels, accents, and makkeph, and (Song 8:6) the division of a word. Our manuscripts generally agree with Ben Asher's readings. The Masorah henceforward settled the text of Jewish manuscripts; older manuscripts were allowed to perish as incorrect. Synagogue rolls and manuscripts for private use are the two classes known to us. Synagogue rolls contain separately the Pentateuch, the haphtaroth (literally, "dismissals," being read just before the congregations departed) or sections of the prophets, and the megilloth, namely, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther: all without vowels, accents, and sophpasuks.
The Sopherim Tract appended to the Babylonian Talmud prescribes as to the preparat
I. TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. --
1. History of the text. -A history of the text of the Old Testament should properly commence from the date of the completion of the canon. As regards the form in which the sacred writings were little doubt that the text was ordinarily were preserved, there can be written on skins, rolled up into volumes, like the modern synagogue rolls.
The original character in which the text was expressed is that still preserved to us, with the exception of four letters, on the Maccabaean coins, and having a strong affinity to the Samaritan character. At what date this was exchanged for the present Aramaic or square character is still as undetermined as it is at what the use of the Aramaic language Palestine superseded that of the Hebrew. The old Jewish tradition, repeated by Origen and Jerome, ascribed the change to Ezra. [WRITING] Of any logical division, in the written text, of the rose of the Old Testament into Pesukim or verses, we find in the Tulmud no mention; and even in the existing synagogue rolls such division is generally ignored. In the poetical books, the Pesukim mentioned in the Talmud correspond to the poetical lines, not to our modern verses. Of the documents which directly bear upon the history of the Hebrew text, the earliest two are the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch and the Greek translation of the LXX. [SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH; SEPTUAGINT] In the (translations of Aquila and the other Greek interpreters, the fragments of whose works remain to us in the Hexapla, we have evidence of the existence of a text differing but little from our own; so also (in the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan. A few centuries later we have, in the Hexapla, additional evidence to the same effect in Origin's transcriptions of the Hebrew text. And yet more important are the proofs of the firm establishment of the text, and of its substantial with our own, supplied by the translation of Jerome, who was instructed by the Palestinian Jews, and mainly relied upon their authority for acquaintance not only with the text itself, but also with the traditional unwritten vocalization of brings us to the middle of the Talmudic period. The care of the Talmudic doctors for the text is shown by the pains with which they counted no the number of verses in the different books and computed which were the middle verses, words and letters in the Pentateuch and in the Psalms. The scrupulousness with which the Talmudists noted what they deemed the truer readings, and yet abstained from introducing them into the text, indicates at once both the diligence with which they scrutinized the text and also the care with which even while knowledging its occasional imperfections, they guarded it. Critical procedure is also evinced in a mention of their rejection of manuscripts which were found not to agree with others in their readings; and the rules given with refer once to the transcription and adoption of manuscripts attest the care bestowed upon them. It is evident from the notices of the Talmud that a number of oral traditions had been gradually accumulating respecting both the integrity of particular passages of the text itself and also the manner in which if was to be read. This vast heterogeneous mass of traditions and criticisms, compiled and embodied in writing, forms what is known as the Masorah, i.e. Tradition. From the end of the Masoretic period onward, the Masorah became the great authority by which the text given in all the Jewish MSS. was settled.
See Samaritan Pentateuch
See Pentateuch, The
2. Manuscripts. --The Old Testament MSS. known to us fall into two main classes: synagogue rolls and MSS. for private use of the latter, some are written in the square, others in the rabbinic or cursive, character. The synagogue rolls contain separate from each other, the Pentateuch, the Haphtaroth or appointed sections of the prophets, and the so-called Megilloth, viz. Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther. Private MSS. in the square character are in the book form, either on parchment or on paper, and of various sizes, from folio to 12mo. Some contain the Hebrew text alone; others add the Targum, or an Arabic or other translation, either interspersed with the text or in a separate column, occasionally in the margin. The upper and lower margins are generally occupied by the Masorah, sometimes by rabbinical commentaries, etc. The date of a MS. is ordinarily given in the subscription but as the subscriptions are often concealed in the Masorah or elsewhere, it is occasionally difficult to find them: occasionally also it is difficult to decipher them. No satisfactory criteria have been yet established by which the ages of MSS. are to be determined. Few existing MSS. are supposed to be older than the twelfth century. Kennicott and Bruns assigned one of their collation (No. 590) to the tenth century; De Rossi dates if A.D. 1018; on the other hand. one of his own (No. 634) he adjudges to the eighth century. Since the days of Kennicott and De Rossi modern research has discovered various MSS. beyond the limits of Europe. Of many of these there seems no reason to suppose that they will add much to our knowledge of the Hebrew text. It is different with the MSS. examined by Pinner at Odessa. One of these MSS. (A, No. 1), a Pentateuch roll, unpointed, brought from Derbend in Daghestan, appears by the subscription to have been written previous to A.D. 580 and if so is the oldest known biblical Hebrew MS. in existence. The forms of the letters are remarkable. Another MS. (B, No. 3) containing the prophets, on parchment, in small folio, although only dating, according to the inscription, from A.D. 916 and furnished with a Masorah, is a yet greater treasure. Its vowels and accents are wholly different from those now in use, both in form and in position, being all above the letters: they have accordingly been the theme of much discussion among Hebrew scholars.
3. Printed text. --The history of the printed text of the Hebrew Bible commences with the early Jewish editions of the separate books. First appeared the Psalter, in 1477, probably at Bologna, in 4to, with Kimchi's commentary interspersed among the verses. Only the first four psalms had the vowel-points, and these but clumsily expressed. At Bologna, there subsequently appeared in 1482, the Pentateuch, in folio, pointed, with the Targum and the commentary of Rashi; and the five Megilloth (Ruth--Esther), in folio with the commentaries of Rashi and Aben Ezra. From Soncino, near Cremona, issued in 1486 the Prophetae priores (Joshua--Kings), folio, unpointed with Kimchi's commentary. The honor of printing the first entire Hebrew Bible belongs to the above-mentioned town of Soncino. The edition is in folio, pointed and accentuated. Nine copies only of it are now known, of which one belongs to Exeter College, Oxford. This was followed, in 1494, by the 4to or 8vo edition printed by Gersom at Brescia, remarkable as being the edition from which Luther's German translation was made. After the Brescian, the next primary edition was that contained in the Complutensian Polyglot, published at Complutum (Alcala) in Spain, at the expense of Cardinal Ximenes, dated 1514-17 but not issued till 1522. To this succeeded an edition which has had more influence than any on the text of later times the Second Rabbinical Bible, printed by Bomberg al Venice, 4 vols. fol., 1525-6. The editor was the learned Tunisian Jew R. Jacob hen Chaim. The great feature of his work lay in the correction of the text by the precepts of the Masorah, in which he was profoundly skilled, and on which, as well as on the text itself, his labors were employed. The Hebrew Bible which became the standard to subsequent generations was: that of Joseph Athiais, a learned rabbi and printer at Amsterdam. His text Was based on a comparison of the previous editions with two MSS.; one bearing date 1299, the other a Spanish MS. boasting an antiquity of 900 years. It appeared at Amsterdam 2 vols. 8 vo, 1661.
4. Principles of criticism. --The method of procedure required in the criticism of the Old