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Author Topic: The Masoretic Text  (Read 2168 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew777
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« on: January 10, 2007, 08:46:36 PM »

Many Eastern Orthodox Christians have accused that the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible is a gross corruption of the original, or even a retranslation from the Septuagint. However, among the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are some Hebrew texts that agree with the Septuagint, while others actually agree with the Masoretic, effectively disproving that the Masoretic is an anti-Christian alteration of the Old Testament. Instead of being a corruption, the Masoretic appears to be an attempt to synthesize various contradicting manuscripts into an acceptable whole. If so, that would make it the "Textus Receptus" of the Hebrew Scriptures. Having said this, what is the position of Oriental Orthodoxy on the Masoretic text?

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Matthew777
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2007, 08:18:21 AM »

May the one who left the tag of "heretical," please support your contention. Otherwise, you are a coward.

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The English translations generally available today are all based on the same Old Testament text—the Hebrew text that has existed without serious rival and with extraordinarily little variation for about two thousand years, called the Masoretic text.

Ancient versions (translations) of the Old Testament, including the Greek (called the Septuagint), differ from the Masoretic text in sometimes significant ways. Modern English versions differ in the extent to which they adopt readings from these and other non-Masoretic texts, but they all basically follow the Masoretic text.

Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered after World War II, the oldest Hebrew Bibles were only about a thousand years old. But the Dead Sea Scrolls have confirmed that the Masoretic text goes back with remarkable fidelity at least another thousand years to before the time of Christ. However, they have also shown that in those days there were rival Hebrew texts similar to the Septuagint and other versions. Therefore, scholars have been more willing to adopt non-Masoretic readings.
http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/156.htm

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"MasLev(b), a somewhat fragmentary manuscript of some five columns (Lev 8: 31-11:40), was found in a corner of the court that lies between Herod’s northern palace and the large bathhouse to the south. Dating to the middle of the first century CE, it is the earliest exact representative of the Masoretic Text. Whereas other similarly sized manuscripts of this textual family reflect the relatively relaxed spelling conventions of the day, this scroll represents the Masoretic Text to the jot and tittle." (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, Translated With Commentary by Martin Abegg, jr., Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich, page 85)
http://sol.sci.uop.edu/~jfalward/James_Juris.htm

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THE SCROLLS AND THE MASORETIC TEXT

This second point is of particular importance since, prior to the discovery of the Qumran manuscripts, the earliest extant Old Testament texts were those known as the Masoretic Text (MT), which dated from about A.D. 980. The MT is the result of editorial work performed by Jewish scribes known as the Masoretes. The scribes’ designation was derived from the Hebrew word masora, which refers collectively to the notes entered on the top, bottom, and side margins of the MT manuscripts to safeguard traditional transmission. Hence, the Masoretes, as their name suggests, were the scribal preservers of the masora (Roberts, 1962, 3:295). From the fifth to the ninth century A.D., the Masoretes labored to introduce both these marginal notes and vowel points to the consonantal text—primarily to conserve correct pronunciation and spelling (see Seow, 1987, pp. 8-9).

Critical scholars questioned the accuracy of the MT, which formed the basis of our English versions of the Old Testament, since there was such a large chronological gap between it and the autographs. Because of this uncertainty, scholars often “corrected” the text with considerable freedom. Qumran, however, has provided remains of an early Masoretic edition predating the Christian era on which the traditional MT is based. A comparison of the MT to this earlier text revealed the remarkable accuracy with which scribes copied the sacred texts. Accordingly, the integrity of the Hebrew Bible was confirmed, which generally has heightened its respect among scholars and drastically reduced textual alteration.

Most of the biblical manuscripts found at Qumran belong to the MT tradition or family. This is especially true of the Pentateuch and some of the Prophets. The well-preserved Isaiah scroll from Cave 1 illustrates the tender care with which these sacred texts were copied. Since about 1700 years separated Isaiah in the MT from its original source, textual critics assumed that centuries of copying and recopying this book must have introduced scribal errors into the document that obscured the original message of the author.

The Isaiah scrolls found at Qumran closed that gap to within 500 years of the original manuscript. Interestingly, when scholars compared the MT of Isaiah to the Isaiah scroll of Qumran, the correspondence was astounding. The texts from Qumran proved to be word-for-word identical to our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted primarily of obvious slips of the pen and spelling alterations (Archer, 1974, p. 25). Further, there were no major doctrinal differences between the accepted and Qumran texts (see Table 1 below). This forcibly demonstrated the accuracy with which scribes copied sacred texts, and bolstered our confidence in the Bible’s textual integrity (see Yamauchi, 1972, p. 130). The Dead Sea Scrolls have increased our confidence that faithful scribal transcription substantially has preserved the original content of Isaiah.
http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/266

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The Dead Sea Scrolls have shed new light on the history of the Masoretic Text. Many texts found there are quite similar to the Masoretic Text, suggesting that an ancestor of the Masoretic Text was indeed extant as early as the 2nd century BC. However, other texts from the site differ substantially, indicating that the Masoretic Text was but one of a diverse set of Biblical writings (Lane Fox 1991:99-106).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masoretic#Critical_study

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« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 09:42:54 AM by Matthew777 » Logged

He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. - Friedrich Nietzsche
www.aramaicpeshitta.com
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Tags: Israel Old Testament Masoretic Canon of scriptures semantics 
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