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Author Topic: The Reliability of the Masoretic Text  (Read 1627 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew777
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« on: December 18, 2006, 09:20:11 AM »

Some use the following verses to argue that God preserved the Old Testament text through the tribe of Levi and no others:

Deuteronomy 17:18
“Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites."

Deuteronomy 31
9 So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”...
24 So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, 25 that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: 26 “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you..."

Jeremiah 33:22-24
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister unto Me.
And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying:
'Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying: The two families which the LORD did choose, He hath cast them off?

Malachi 2:4-6
Know then that I have sent this commandment unto you, that My covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
My covenant was with him of life and peace, and I gave them to him, and of fear, and he feared Me, and was afraid of My name.
The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and did turn many away from iniquity.


It is then argued that the Masoretes were descended from the tribe of Levi and, therefore, preserved the most reliable manuscripts of the Old Testament that we have available to us. As a result, the LXX and DSS are irrelevant, given that they are not of Levitican origin. However, is there really any evidence that the Masoretes were from the tribe of Levi?

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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2006, 09:28:26 AM »

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It is then argued that the Masoretes were descended from the tribe of Levi

Out of curiosity, who would use such an authority-based argument, except Protestant fundamentalists and Orthodox/conservative Jews? This doesn't actually effect your question, I'm just wondering about how many people make this claim.
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Matthew777
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2006, 09:42:42 AM »

Out of curiosity, who would use such an authority-based argument, except Protestant fundamentalists and Orthodox/conservative Jews?

As far as I know, those are the only contemporary groups that I know of who would make this claim. But it's possible that the Protestant Reformers preferred the Masoretic text out of the belief that it was Levitican in origin.

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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2006, 04:23:25 PM »

I have never heard this.  Are there really that many other Hebrew texts in existence?  I had thought that the Protestants simply felt that the Hebrew was "the" Bible and therefore used the one available.  I was never aware of any competing Hebrew texts which were thought of as "non-levitical" and therefore suspect.

Patrick
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Matthew777
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2006, 11:35:58 PM »

When the Protestant Reformers rejected the Septuagint in favor of the Hebrew, the Masoretic was the only Hebrew text they had available to them and, therefore, they believed it to be the most reliable. But now, looking back into history, Protestant fundamentalists argue that the Septuagint, and the recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls are irrelevant given that they aren't Levitical in origin. But I have yet to see evidence that the Masoretes were Levites, or that they preserved the Levitical text.

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Matthew777
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2006, 05:59:41 AM »

Is there a Jewish forum I could ask these questions on?
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