Bible, by Wikipedia

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:37 am

By Dennis Pardee, Professor of Northwest Semitic Philology
The Oriental Institute, and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
The University of Chicago



(This article originally appeared in The Oriental Institute News and Notes, No. 172, Winter 2002.)


Excavations have been going on at the site of Ras Shamra on the Northwest Syrian coast more or less steadily since 1929 and inscriptions have been discovered during nearly every campaign from the first to the most recent, which took place during May/June 2000. Except for some deep stratigraphic soundings, virtually all digging has concentrated on the uppermost levels of the tell, which date to the Late Bronze Age, and approximately one sixth of the surface has been uncovered. The soundings have revealed the site was first inhabited in the eighth millennium BC, and the possibilities for further excavation extend thus into the indefinite future.

The excavation team is French, known as the Mission de Ras Shamra. In 2000, the project became officially a joint Syrian-French enterprise. There has been a great deal of continuity owing to this single archaeological presence, and to the orderly handing down of the direction from one scholar to another (Claude F.-A. Schaeffer, Henri de Contenson, Jean Margueron, Marguerite Yon, and now Yves Calvet [France] and Bassam Jamous [Syria]). The current plans call for going below the Late Bronze Age levels, but choosing an area has not been easy because the latest remains are so well preserved - in order to see what lies under the stone foundations of a house these must be destroyed or at least disturbed. Ras Shamra is an important stop on any cultural tour of Syria, and the authorities are anxious that its educational and touristic value not be reduced.

From the inscriptions it was learned very early on that the tell covered the ruins of ancient Ugarit, known from contemporary documents to be an important city in the Late Bronze Age. More recently discovered texts from Mari, on the middle Euphrates, show Ugarit already to have been famous in the mid-eighteenth century BC. The international language of that time was Akkadian, the principal language of Mesopotamia, and that usage remained constant to the end of the Bronze Age. Hence many of the inscriptions from Ras Shamra were in Akkadian, which was used primarily for international dealings, though a significant portion of the internal administrative records were also in that language.


Of greater interest for West Semitists was the discovery of a new script and language, named Ugaritic after the city, which belongs to the great family of languages of Syria, Palestine, and Arabia (Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Old South Arabian, and Phoenician). For the first time, scholars of these languages had not just a few scattered words datable to the second millennium BC, but texts in a language related to, but older than, the attested forms of any of these West Semitic languages. The script was immediately perceived as an oddity: it was cuneiform and inscribed on tablets, but it was unrelated to Mesopotamian cuneiform. Rapid decipherment showed that it represented an alphabetic system: the number of signs was only thirty, and the consonantal phonemes represented by these signs, only twenty-seven. An archaic phonetic system was revealed wherein still functioned several consonantal phonemes that have disappeared in Hebrew, Phoenician, and Aramaic Image >; only missing from a common reconstruction of early West Semitic were Image and Image .

The texts in Ugaritic cover a broad literary range: from myths to "laundry lists," from incantations to letters, from contracts to medical texts. On the negative side is the fact that most of the tablets are broken and the reconstruction of the culture, economy, and religion of the Ugaritians has for that reason been a long and painstaking one. Moreover, as G. R. Driver (among others!) used to say, dies diem docet, or in modern idiom "you learn something new every day." Hence the work of the pioneers has to be taken up again by following generations who have the benefit of hindsight.


This has been my primary role in the Mission de Ras Shamra. I first seriously practiced true epigraphy (the study of ancient "epigraphs," or inscriptions, with an emphasis on the decipherment and interpretation of these epigraphs) during the academic year 1980/81 thanks to a Fullbright Fellowship. My teaching duties were not heavy and I had a great deal of time to spend studying tablets in the museums of Damascus and Aleppo. I went to Syria naively expecting to find that my predecessors had read everything on all the tablets, but I soon discovered that there was much yet to be done. During that year, I collated some two hundred tablets, comparing the editions with the original and preparing my own (very primitive!) hand copies. I became a member of the Mission de Ras Shamra epigraphic team in the mid-1980s and have since devoted my efforts principally to republishing the Ugaritic texts according to literary genre. My first effort, full of mistakes in my turn, was a re-edition of the hippiatric texts, a genre of which the oldest versions are Ugaritic. These texts, only four in number, reflect empirical medicine practiced on horses, a practice and literary genre that continued until quite recently. The second project was a small group of texts, only nine in number, excavated in a single house in 1961 that showed a striking peculiarity: all contained mythological material but in forms that differed from the long mythological texts for which Ugarit is famous. The most striking is a brief story about the great god El becoming drunk at a feast and having to be carried home by his sons. This atypical myth is followed by a prose recipe for alcoholic collapse that features the first known connection between drunkenness and the "hair of the dog": "What is to be put on his forehead: hairs of a dog. And the head of the PQQ (a type of plant) and its shoot he is to drink mixed together with fresh olive oil." This group of texts I republished as Les textes para-mythologiques in 1985.

An intermediary project, a joint one with my French colleague Pierre Bordreuil, head of the epigraphic team for the Mission, was a catalogue of all inscribed objects from Ras Shamra (La trouvaille épigraphique de l'Ougarit, 1989). We actually touched and measured every inscribed object we could find (and a surprisingly small number were missing lo these many years and a World War later), which permitted us to provide in the catalogue the basic data regarding the physical properties of the item, the language/script, and the most basic publications. Because the publications of the various texts over the decades were widely scattered, an account of what text corresponded to what excavation number was necessary and has proved immensely useful for the members of the Mission - as well, we hope, as for our colleagues near and far who previously did not have these most basic data regarding the inscriptions at their fingertips.

The other two types of texts collated in 1980/81 were the letters and the ritual texts. Though the letters were my first interest and the project that I had in mind when the opportunity arose to work in Syria, for reasons associated with my teaching responsibilities in this university I settled on the ritual texts as my next publication project. There are over eighty texts that deal with the everyday cultic activities in the city of Ugarit. After the typical ups and downs associated with a thick manuscript, Les textes rituels appeared in February 2001 (though the imprint date is 2000), all 1,307 pages of it, including those bearing the hand copies and photographs.

Most of these texts are dry - and I mean dry - prescriptions of the sacrifices to be offered during a particular period of time, which may range from a single day or a part of a day to two months. For example, the beginning of RS 1.001, the very first text discovered at Ras Shamra reads: "A ewe as a Image -sacrifice; a dove, also as a Image-sacrifice; a ewe, also as Image -sacrifice; two kidneys and the liver (of?) a bull and a ram for El." It goes on like this for twenty-two lines.

It is clear that the Ugaritic cultic system was centered around bloody sacrifice (that is, the slaughter of animals in honor of a deity), that it went on continually but was particularly tied in with the phases of the moon (the festivals of the new moon and the full moon were the most important, but sacrificial activity also increased at the second and third quarters, i.e., at the beginning of the lunar "weeks"), and that a great number of deities figured in the Ugaritic pantheon (well over two hundred are known at present). From the mythological texts, we know that the Ugaritians had highly developed views of how the deities interrelated with each other and with humans. There is not, unfortunately, a clear overlap between the mythological texts and the ritual ones - other than in the fact that certain deities appear in both - that would allow us to see more clearly the ideology and theology behind the ritual acts so abundantly described. The basic sacrificial types appear to reflect a need to feed and to care for the divinities and to establish a form of communion with them. The Image sacrifice, for example, appears to reflect a cultic meal in which the offerer partook of the same meal as was offered to the divinity. This last term, cognate with Hebrew Image conventionally translated "peace offerings," opens a window on the interconnections between these West Semites of Northwest Syria and the better-known inhabitants of Canaan, the birthplace of the Jewish and Christian religions. Space does not permit a discussion here. Suffice it to say that there are long lists of both similarities and differences between Hebrew and Ugaritic religion and cult.


There are some texts included in this collection that go beyond the narrow bounds of the typical variety just cited. One, RS 1.002, the second tablet discovered at Ras Shamra in 1929, ventures into areas not even hinted at in the texts just described: mentioned there are such things as "sin," "anger," and "impatience." The burden of the rite, which has six sections divided into three for the men of Ugarit and three for the women, appears to be to foster national unity by erasing all sources of friction among the various elements of society. Specifically mentioned are the king and the queen, the men and the women who live within the walls of the city of Ugarit, and a whole series of other categories defined by ethnic, social, and geographical terms. At the end of each section, the sacrifice of a single animal is prescribed, the species being specific to the theme treated there. For example, the sacrifice of a donkey in each of the last two sections appears to underscore the theme of political rectitude announced in the first line of each of these sections.

One of the most interesting of the sacrificial texts is that of a funerary rite, probably for the next-to-the-last king of Ugarit, whose name was Niqmaddu, a name that reappears several times in this dynastic line. This king died some time during the last decade of the thirteenth century and, in the last lines of the text, blessings are called down on his successor, Ammurapi, and on the queen mother:

Well-being for Image , well-being for his house!
Well-being for Image , well-being for her house!
Well-being for Ugarit, well-being for her gates!

The particular interest of this text is that it goes far beyond the dryness of the standard sacrificial texts and the repetitiveness of RS 1.002 by its form of expression - it is in poetry rather than in prose - and by its subject matter - the shades of the dead king's ancestors are called up to participate in the ceremony and, once the ceremony is launched, the principal actor is the sun deity, who assumes the role of enabling the deceased king to join his ancestors. This is achieved by the sevenfold lowering of the king's body into the realm of the dead. I have hypothesized that this portion of the ceremony would have centered on a large pit that the archaeologists discovered situated between the two principal chambers of the royal tomb in the palace. Once this ceremonial lowering and raising, accompanied each time by a sacrifice, was completed, the mortal remains would have been laid to rest in one of the tombs.

Another type of inscription takes its interest from the object on which they are written: clay liver models representing the liver of an animal sacrificed in the rite known as hepatoscopy, observing the features of a liver as a means of divining the future. Each model reflects a specific case of consulting a divination priest and the purpose of the text was to express the question that was posed to the priest. The clearest of these reads: "(This liver model is) for when he was to procure the young man of the Alashian." Specialists in the markings on the model tell us that the result of this consultation was a "yes" answer, that is, that Image should proceed with his plan to acquire a new servant.

Alongside these texts that reflect the actual practice of divination are manuals or catalogues of previous results of previous divinatory consultations. One such tablet provides a long list of omens based on malformed animal fetuses, for example: "If it (the fetus of a sheep or goat) has no right ear, the enemy will devastate the land and will consume it." Another tablet lists omens associated with lunar phenomena, for example: "If the moon, when it rises, is red, there will be prosperity [during] that month."

The incantatory genre is very poorly attested at Ugarit. The first text was discovered at the neighboring site of Ras Ibn Hani in 1978, but its language was so difficult that its precise literary structure and character were not easy to determine. A more recent example, RS 92.2014, is clearly incantatory in nature. It reads:

(When) the unknown one calls you and begins foaming,
I, for my part, will call you.
I will shake bits of sacred wood,
So that the serpent not come up against you,
So that the scorpion not stand up under you.
The serpent will indeed not come up against you,
The scorpion will indeed not stand up under you!
In like manner, may the tormentors, the sorcerers not give ear to the word
of the evil man,
To the word of any man:
When it sounds forth in their mouth, on their lips,
May the sorcerers, the tormentors, then pour it to the earth.
For Urtenu, for his body, for his members.

The final ascription to a known personage, plausibly the last inhabitant of the house in which the tablet was found and a member of the queen's administration, permits the classification of the text as an incantation prepared by a "magician" to ward off Urtenu's enemies, both serpentine and human.

The work just described is a technical edition, with hand copies, photographs of tablets previously unpublished in photographic form, copious remarks both epigraphic and philological on each text, a structural analysis of each text, extensive indices laying out the data in these texts according to several categories (deity named, type of act, contents of offerings, time, and place), and an exhaustive concordance of all words attested. It is intended for scholars and students who know an ancient Semitic language well enough to work with the original Ugaritic.

In the next few months a very different book will appear, this time in English and intended for a much broader audience. It is published by the Society of Biblical Literature in the series Writings from the Ancient World, which is intended to gather together the most important collections of ancient Near Eastern texts. The format includes the text in the original language with accompanying translation into idiomatic English, some notes in lieu of commentary, and good indices. The inclusion of the original text makes these works of interest to students and scholars, while the English translation and notes open up their usefulness to anyone who reads English and is interested in the original texts upon which we base our views of the ancient world.

This version differs from the French edition in several respects. First, only relatively complete texts are included, those that permit a fairly continuous translation. Second, because of the nature of the French edition the texts were not arranged there by subject matter, but the insights gained in preparing that edition permitted such an arrangement in the English version. Third, the sacrificial texts are laid out according to the structure of the rite therein depicted, permitting the non-specialist to follow the progress of the liturgy more easily. Fourth, the commentary in the notes is much briefer and less technical; repetition is avoided by putting many explanations into a glossary. Fifth, this freeing up of space allowed for the inclusion of a broader range of texts, notably those of the "para-mythological" texts described above that have a reasonably clear link with ritual as practiced at Ugarit. This broader purview is reflected in the English title, Ritual and Cult at Ugarit.

Since earning his doctorate in this university in 1974, Dennis Pardee has been teaching the Northwest Semitic languages and literatures in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Oriental Institute. In addition to his work in Ugaritic, he has published books and articles on Biblical Hebrew poetry and on Hebrew inscriptions.
Site Admin
Posts: 17163
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:41 am

by Wikipedia



Mesha Stele in the Louvre Museum

The Mesha Stele (popularized in the 19th century as the "Moabite Stone") is a black basalt stone bearing an inscription by the 9th century BC ruler Mesha of Moab.

The inscription was set up about 840 BC as a memorial of Mesha's victories over "Omri king of Israel" and his son, who had been "oppressing" Moab. It bears the earliest known reference to the sacred Hebrew name of God - YHWH - and is also notable as the most extensive inscription ever recovered that refers to ancient Israel (the "House of Omri"). French scholar André Lemaire has reconstructed a portion of line 31 of the stele as "House of David".[1]

The stone is 124 cm high and 71 cm wide and deep, and rounded at the top. It was discovered at the site of ancient Dibon (now Dhiban, Jordan), in August 1868, by Rev. F. A. Klein, a German missionary. Local villagers smashed the stone during a dispute over its ownership, but a squeeze (a papier-mâché impression) had been obtained by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, and most of the fragments were later recovered and pieced together by him.[2] The squeeze (which has never been published) and the reassembled stele (which has been published in many books and encyclopedias) are now in the Louvre Museum.


The stele measures 44"x27"[3]. Its 34 lines describe:

1. How Moab was oppressed by "Omri King of Israel"", as the result of the anger of the god Chemosh
2. Mesha's victories over Omri's son (not named) and the men of Gad at Ataroth, and at Nebo and Jehaz;
3. His building projects, restoring the fortifications of his strong places and building a palace and reservoirs for water; and
4. His wars against the Horonaim.


The inscription has strong consistency with the historical events recorded in the Bible. The events, names, and places mentioned in the Mesha Stele correspond to those mentioned in the Bible. For example, Mesha is recorded as the King of Moab in 2 Kings 3:4: “Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams.”[4] Kemosh is mentioned in numerous places in the Bible as the national god of Moab (1 Kings 11:33, Numbers 21:29 etc...).[5] The reign of Omri, King of Israel, is chronicled in 1 Kings 16[6], and the inscription records many places and territories (Nebo, Gad, ect...) that also appear in the Bible.[7] Finally, 2 Kings 3 recounts a revolt by Mesha against Israel, to which Israel responded by allying with Judah and Edom to suppress the revolt:

“4Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 5But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to battle against Moab?" And he said, "I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." 8Then he said, "By which way shall we march?" Jehoram answered, "By the way of the wilderness of Edom." 9So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom…26When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not. 27Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.”[8]

Some scholars have argued that an inconsistency exists between the Mesha Stele and the Bible regarding the timing of the revolt.[9] The argument rests upon the assumption that the following section of the inscription necessarily refers to Omri’s son Ahab: “Omri was the king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab for many days, for Kemosh was angry with his land. And his son replaced him; and he said, "I will also oppress Moab"…And Omri took possession of the whole land of Madaba; and he lived there in his days and half the days of his son: forty years: And Kemosh restored it in my days”. In other words, these scholars argue that the inscription indicates that Mesha’s revolt occurred during the reign of Omri’s son Ahab. Since the Bible speaks of the revolt taking place during Jehoram’s reign (Omri’s grandson), these scholars have argued that these two accounts are inconsistent.

However, as other scholars have pointed out, the inscription need not necessarily refer to Omri’s son Ahab.[10] In modern English, the word “son” typically refers to a male child in relation to his parents. In the ancient Near East, however, the word was commonly used to mean male descendent.[11] Consequently, “son of Omri” was a common designation for any male descendent of Omri and would have been used to refer to Jehoram. Assuming that “son” means “descendent,” an interpretation consistent with the common use of language in the ancient Near East, the Mesha Stele and the Bible are consistent.

Reconstructions of [D]VDH at line 31 and line 12

In 1994, after examining both the Mesha Stele and the paper squeeze in the Louvre Museum, the French scholar André Lemaire reported that line 31 of the Mesha Stele bears the phrase "the house of David" (in Biblical Archaeology Review [May/June 1994], pp. 30-37). Lemaire had to supply one destroyed letter, the first "D" in [D]VDH, "of [D]avid," to decode the wording. The complete sentence in the latter part of line 31 would then read, "As for Horonen, there lived in it the house of [D]avid," וחורננ. ישב. בה. בת[ד]וד. (Square brackets [ ] enclose letters or words supplied where letters were destroyed or were on fragments that are still missing.) Most scholars find that no other letter supplied there yields a reading that makes sense. After one full year, only one scholar, Baruch Margalit, attempted to supply a different letter: "m," along with several other letters in places after that, giving the reading: "Now Horoneyn was occupied at the en[d] of [my pre]decessor['s reign] by [Edom]ites." (Baruch Margalit, "Studies in NWSemitic Inscriptions," Ugarit-Forschungen 26, p. 275). Margalit's reading has not attracted any significant support in scholarly publications by 2006, although in 2001 another French scholar, Pierre Bordreuil, reported (in an essay in French) that he and a few other scholars could not confirm Lemaire's reading.[12]

If Lemaire is right, there are now two early references to David's dynasty, one in the Mesha Stele (mid-9th century) and the other in the Tel Dan Stele (mid-9th to mid-8th century).[13].

In 1998, another scholar, Anson Rainey, translated a puzzling two-word phrase in line 12 of the Mesha Stele, אראל. דודה, as "its Davidic altar-hearth".[14]

The identification of David in the Mesha stele remains controversial. This controversy stems partly from the fragmentary state of line 31 and partly from a tendency since the 1990s, largely among European scholars, to question or dismiss the historical reliability of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). In Europe, P. R. Davies, Thomas L. Thompson, and Niels P. Lemche show a strong tendency to reject biblical historicity, while André Lemaire, K. A. Kitchen, Jens Bruun Kofoed, and other European scholars are exceptions. Many scholars lean in one direction or the other but actually occupy the middle ground. The "Arabian Judah" school of Old Testament historical interpretation (Kamal Salibi) regard the Mesha stele as evidence that Omri's Kingdom of Israel was in northern Hijaz controlling trade routes including the important terminus of Taima.[citation needed] In general, North American and Israeli scholars tend to be more willing to accept the identification of the biblical King David in the Mesha stele, especially because the phrase that is usually translated "house of David," is clearly legible in the Tel Dan stele (there this phrase in line 9 appears to parallel "king of Israel" in the preceding line). The controversy over whether ancient inscriptions confirm the existence of the Biblical King David usually focuses less on the Mesha stele and more on the Tel Dan stele.


The text in Moabite, transcribed into modern Hebrew letters:

1. אנכ. משע. בנ. כמש.. . מלכ. מאב. הד
2. יבני | אבי. מלכ. על. מאב. שלשנ. שת. ואנכ. מלכ
3. תי. אחר. אבי | ואעש. הבמת. זאת. לכמש. בקרחה | ב[נס. י]
4. שע. כי. השעני. מכל. המלכנ. וכי. הראני. בכל. שנאי | עמר
5. י. מלכ. ישראל. ויענו. את. מאב. ימנ. רבן. כי. יאנפ. כמש. באר
6. צה | ויחלפה. בנה. ויאמר. גמ. הא. אענו. את. מאב | בימי. אמר. כ[...]
7. וארא. בה. ובבתה | וישראל. אבד. אבד. עלמ. וירש. עמרי. את א[ר]
8. צ. מהדבא | וישב. בה. ימה. וחצי. ימי. בנה. ארבענ. שת. ויש
9. בה. כמש. בימי | ואבנ. את. בעלמענ. ואעש. בה. האשוח. ואבנ
10. את. קריתנ | ואש. גד. ישב. בארצ. עטרת. מעלמ. ויבנ. לה. מלכ. י
11. שראל. את. עטרת | ואלתחמ. בקר. ואחזה | ואהרג. את. כל. העמ. [מ]
12. הקר. רית. לכמש. ולמאב | ואשב. משמ. את. אראל. דודה. ואס
13. חבה. לפני. כמש. בקרית | ואשב. בה. את. אש. שרנ. ואת. אש
14. מחרת | ויאמר. לי. כמש. לכ. אחז. את. נבה. על. ישראל | וא
15. הלכ. הללה. ואלתחמ. בה. מבקע. השחרת. עד. הצהרמ | ואח
16. זה. ואהרג. כלה. שבעת. אלפנ. גברנ. ו[גר]נ | וגברת. וגר
17. ת. ורחמת | כי. לעשתר. כמש. החרמתה | ואקח. משמ. א[ת. כ]
18. לי. יהוה. ואסחב. המ. לפני. כמש | ומלכ. ישראל. בנה. את
19. יהצ. וישב. בה. בהלתחמה. בי | ויגרשה. כמש. מפני | ו
20. אקח. ממאב. מאתנ. אש. כל. רשה | ואשאה. ביהצ. ואחזה.
21. לספת. על. דיבנ | אנכ. בנתי. קרחה. חמת. היערנ. וחמת
22. העפל | ואנכ. בנתי. שעריה. ואנכ. בנתי. מגדלתה | וא
23. נכ. בנתי. בת. מלכ. ואנכ. עשתי. כלאי. האש[וח למי]נ. בקרב
24. הקר | ובר. אנ. בקרב. הקר. בקרחה. ואמר. לכל. העמ. עשו. ל
25. כמ. אש. בר. בביתה | ואנכ. כרתי. המכרתת. לקרחה. באסר
26. [י]. ישראל | אנכ. בנתי. ערער. ואנכ. עשתי. המסלת. בארננ.
27. אנכ. בנתי. בת. במת. כי. הרס. הא | אנכ. בנתי. בצר. כי. עינ
28. ----- ש. דיבנ. חמשנ. כי. כל. דיבנ. משמעת | ואנכ. מלכ
29. ת[י] ----- מאת. בקרנ. אשר. יספתי. על. הארצ | ואנכ. בנת
30. [י. את. מה]דבא. ובת. דבלתנ | ובת. בעלמענ. ואשא. שמ. את. [...]
31. --------- צאנ. הארצ | וחורננ. ישב. בה. ב
32. --------- אמר. לי. כמש. רד. הלתחמ. בחורננ | וארד
33. ---------[ויש]בה. כמש. בימי. ועל[...]. משמ. עש
34. -------------- שת. שדק | וא


In the original text some words run on from one line to the next. Where possible, this translation reflects this writing. Square brackets indicate reconstructed text, and dots represent missing and unreconstructed or disputed portions.

1. I am Mesha, son of KMSYT (Kemosh[-yat]), the king of Moab, the Di-
2. -bonite. My father was king of Moab thirty years, and I reign-
3. -ed after my father. And I built this high-place for Kemosh in QRH ("the citadel"), a high place of [sal-]
4. -vation because he saved me from all the kings (or "all the attackers"), and because let me be victorious over all my adversaries. Omr-
5. -i was king of Israel and he oppressed Moab for many days because Kemosh was angry with his
6. land. And his son replaced him; and he also said, "I will oppress Moab". In my days he spoke thus.
7. But I was victorious over him and his house. And Israel suffered everlasting destruction, And Omri had conquered the lan-
8. -d of Madaba, and he dwelt there during his reign and half the reign of his son, forty years. But Kemosh
9. returned it in my days. So I [re]built Baal Meon, and I the water reservoir in it. And I bu[ilt]
10. Qiryaten. The man of Gad had dwelt in Ataroth from of old; and the king of Israel
11. built Ataroth for him. But I fought against the city and took it. And I slew all the people [and]
12. the city became the property of Kemosh and Moab. And I carried from there the altar for its DVDH ("its Davidic altar"?) and I
13. dragged it before Kemosh in Qerioit, and I settled in it men of Sharon m[en]
14.of Maharit. And Kemosh said to me, "Go! Seize Nebo against Israel." so I
15. proceeded by night and fought with it from the crack of dawn to midday, and I to-
16. -ok it and I slew all of them: seven thousand men and boys, and women and gi-
17. and maidens because I had dedicated it to Ashtar Kemosh I took [the ves-]
18. -sels of YHWH, and I dragged them before Kemosh. And the king of Israel had built
19.Yahaz, and he dwelt in it while he was fighting with me, but Kemosh drove him out before me. so
20. I took from Moab two hundred men, all his captains. And I brought them to Yahaz, And I seized it order to add (it) to Dibon. I (myself) have built the 'citadel', 'the wall(s) of the forest' and the wall
22. of the 'acropolis'. And I built its gates; And I built its towers. And
23. I built a royal palace; and I made the ramparts for the reservo[ir for] water in the mid-
24. -st of the city. But there was no cistern in the midst of the city, in the 'citadel,' so I said to all the people, "Make [for]
25.yourselves each man a cistern in his house". And I hewed the shaft for the 'citadel' with prisoner-
26. -s of Israel. I built Aroer, and I made the highway in the Arnon.
27. I built Beth-Bamot, because it was in ruins. I built Bezer, because it was
28. a ruin [with] the armed men of Dibon because all of Dibon was under orders and I ru-
29. -led [ove]r [the] hundreds in the towns which I have annexed to the land. And I bui-
30. -lt Medeba and Beth-Diblaten and Beth-Baal-Meon, and I carried there [my herdsmen]
31. [to herd] the small cattle of the land, and Horonain, in it dwelt ...
32. [and] Kemosh [s]aid to me, "Go down, fight against Horonain". And I went down [and I fou-
33. -ght with the city and I took it and] Kemosh [re]turned it in my days. Then I went up from there te[n...]
34. [...a high] place of justice and I [...]



1. Biblical Archaeology Review [May/June 1994], pp. 30–37
2. [1]
3. 1920 World Book, Volume VI, page 3867
4. [2]
6. [4]
7. Driver, Samuel. (1890), Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel, [5]
8. [6]
9. Driver, Samuel. (1890), Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel, [7]
10. Davis, John. (1891), The Moabite Stone and the Hebrew Records; see also [8]
11. Ibid
12. Pierre Bordreuil, "A propos de l'inscription de Mesha': deux notes," in P. M. Michele Daviau, John W. Wevers and Michael Weigl [Eds.], The World of the Aramaeans III, pp. 158-167, especially pp. 162-163 [Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001]
13. Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, _Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E._, Academia Biblica series, no. 12 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004), pp. 265-277
14. (Anson F. Rainey, "Mesha and Syntax," in _The Land That I Will Show You_, edited by J. Andrew Dearman and M. Patrick Graham, Supplement Series, no. 343 [Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001], pp. 300-306).
Site Admin
Posts: 17163
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:44 am

by Wikipedia



The Tel Dan Stele

[Excessive references to Bible believers deleted]

The Tel Dan Stele is a black basalt stele discovered during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel. It was erected by an Aramaean king and contains an Aramaic inscription commemorating victories over local ancient peoples including "Israel" and the "House of David." Its author is unknown, but may be a king of Damascus, Hazael or one of his sons.

The inscription generated excitement among biblical scholars and biblical archaeologists because the letters 'ביתדוד' are identical to the Hebrew for "house of David." If these letters refer to the Davidic line then this is the first time the name "David" has been recognized at any archaeological site. The scholarly consensus among archaeologists and epigraphers is that the fragment is an authentic reference to the Biblical King David.[1]

Like the Mesha stele, the Tel Dan Stele seems typical of a memorial intended as a sort of military propaganda, which boasts of Hazael's or his son's victories. Some epigraphers think that the phrase "house of David" also appears in a partly broken line in the Mesha stele.


Although the name of the author of the stele does not seem to appear on the available fragments, it is most likely a king of neighboring Damascus. Language, time, and location make it plausible that the author was Hazael or his son, Bar Hadad II/III, who were kings of Damascus and enemies of the kingdom of Israel.


The stele was discovered at Tel Dan, previously named Tell el-Qadi, a mound where a city once stood at the northern tip of Israel.

Fragment A was discovered in 1993, and fragments B1 and B2, which fit together, were discovered in 1994. In the broken part of the stone below the smooth writing surface, there is a possible "internal" fit between fragment A and the assembled fragments B1/B2, but it is uncertain and disputed. If the fit is correct, then the pieces were originally side by side.


The inscription has been dated to the 9th or 8th centuries BCE. The 8th-century limit is determined by a destruction layer identified with a well-documented Assyrian conquest in 733/732 BCE. Because that destruction layer was above the layer in which the stele fragments were found, it is clear that it took place after the stele had been erected, then broken into pieces which were later used in a construction project at Tel Dan, presumably by Hebrew builders. It is difficult to discern how long before that Assyrian conquest these earlier events took place.

George Athas attempted to date the inscription to the 8th century, and credit it to Bar Hadad rather than his father Hazael.[2] However, the archaeological context does not support this conclusion.[3] The excavators dated the inscription to the mid-9th century, and the peak of Hazael’s conquests, but Suriano attributed the stele to a point late in Hazael’s career based on apologetic motifs that suggest the inscription was made at the time his son (Bar Hadad) was appointed heir and successor.[4]

Aramaic text

1. [ ]א]מר.ע[ ]וגזר ]

2. [ ]אבי.יסק[.עלוה.בה]תלחמה.בא--- ]

3. וישכב.אבי.יהך.אל[.אבהו]ה.ויעל.מלכי[ יש]

4.ראל.קדם.בארק.אבי[.ו]יהלך.הדד[.]א[יתי ]

5.אנה.ויהך.הדד.קדמי[.ו]אפק.מן.שבע[ת ---]

6. י.מלכי.ואקתל.מל[כן.שב]ען.אסרי.א[לפי.ר]

7. כב.ואלפי.פרש.[קתלת.אית.יהו]רם.בר[אחאב.]

8.מלך.ישראל.וקתל[ת.אית.אחז]יהו.בר[יהורם.מל ]

9. ך.ביתדוד.ואשם.[אית.קרית.הם.חרבת.ואהפך.א]

10. ית.ארק.הם.ל[ישמן ]

11.אחרן.ולה[... ויהוא.מ ]

12.לך.על.יש[ראל... ואשם .]

13. מצר.ע[ל. ]


Following is a line-by-line translation that follows the editio princeps (Biran and Naveh). Missing text or text that is too damaged by erosion is represented by "[.....]"):

1'. [.....................].......[...................................] and cut [.........................]
2'. [.........] my father went up [against him when] he fought at[....]
3'. And my father lay down, he went to his [fathers]. And the king of I[s-]
4'. rael entered previously in my father's land. [And] Hadad made me king.
5'. And Hadad went in front of me, [and] I departed from [the] seven[.....]
6'. of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]
7'. riots and thousands of horsemen (or: horses). [I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab]
8'. king of Israel, and I killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin]g
9'. of the House of David. [?] And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]
10'. their land into [desolation........................]
11'. other ...[......................................................................... and Jehu ru-]
12'. led over Is[rael......................................................................and I laid]
13'. siege upon [............................................................]

Dispute over the phrase "House of David"

Due to the mention of both "Israel" and the "House of David", the Tel Dan Stele is often quoted as supporting evidence for the Bible. However, critics have suggested other readings of ביתדוד, usually based on the fact that the written form "DWD" can be rendered both as David and as Dod (Hebrew for "beloved") or related forms.[citation needed] In ancient Hebrew a dot was sometimes used to divide separate words. For example, the phrase "House of David" could be written as בית•דוד. The Aramean writer of the Tel Dan Stele, who is writing to commemorate a victory over the Hebrews, did not employ the Hebrew word divider for ביתדוד.

Views of Biblical scholars

Anson Rainey, defending the reading "House of David" stated that "a word divider between two components in such a construction is often omitted, especially if the combination is a well-established proper name."[citation needed]

Gary Rendsburg supports Rainey's position and stated that the phrase Bit ("house of") + X ("founder") is the Aramaean, Assyrian, and Babylonian way of referring to an Aramaean state. Rendsburg also stated, "[o]ne might even venture that the Assyrian designation Bit-Humri "house of Omri" for the kingdom of Israel reached Assyrian scribes through Aramaean mediation."

Philip Davies writes:

But let’s leave this wishful thinking and return to the critical six letters, BYTDWD, to see what they really might mean. Admittedly there are two verbal elements here, of which the first is beth, house. But the probability is that the second element completes a place-name, such as Beth Lehem (House of Bread) correct translation or Bethlehem (one word), as it is commonly written in Latin letters. Also a substantial minority believes that the correct reading and translation are, Bet Lachmu, (House of the God Lachmu) recognising a popular (and verified)local god. It seems intrinsically more likely that a place-name composed with beth would be written as one word, rather than a phrase meaning “House of David,” referring to the dynasty of David. Such a place name could be Beth-dod (the w serving as rudimentary vowel, a so-called mater lectionis; the same last three letters are consistently used to spell the last syllable of the Philistine city of Ashdod) or Bethdaud (with a slightly different vowel pronunciation). All these place-names are quite reasonable suggestions...There are other possibilities...For example, in a contemporaneous inscription, the famous Mesha stele or Moabite stone, the phrase ’R’L DWDH (‏אראל דודה‎) appears. The second word remains somewhat of a puzzle. Some scholars, though a minority, translate it “David” and regard it as the name of the founder of the ruling dynasty of Judah...But the final heh makes this meaning unlikely. The noun dawidum is also found in a cuneiform text from Mari (18th century B.C.E.), offering another possible clue, though the meaning of this term remains unclear. In the Bible DWD can mean “beloved” or “uncle,” and in one place (1 Samuel 2:14), it means “kettle.” So a number of ways of understanding DWD present themselves, most of them more plausible than translating “David.” [5]

Thomas L. Thompson has argued that, even if it could be shown that the terms "of the house of David" and "of the house of Omri" were used to describe the kings of Judah and Israel at that time, we should not conclude that they saw David and Omri as recent ancestors who had founded dynasties in the modern sense, other interpretations of the term "house of" in this context are possible.

Configuration controversy

George Athas proposes that the three extant fragments of the inscription have been placed in a wrong configuration (for the popular configuration, see the figure above). He argues that Fragment A (the largest) should be placed well above Fragments B1 and B2 (which fit together). He also suggests that ביתדוד is actually a reference to Jerusalem, arguing that it is the Aramaic equivalent of "City of David". He also provides evidence for the authenticity of the fragments (called into question by some, such as Russell Gmirkin), and downdates the inscription, proposing that the author is not Hazael, as is popularly touted, but rather his son Bar Hadad.

Authenticity controversy

Athas also provided evidence for the authenticity of the fragments, which were called into question by some, including Russell Gmirkin.

Minority views

A minority view is that DWD is the Hebrew rendering of Thoth (pronounced, according to the Ancient Greeks, as Toot - as in Tutmose), thus the expression might refer to a temple of Thoth. The Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen points out that there is no known temple of Thoth in the area.

Others believe that ביתדוד refers to an unknown geographic location.



1. 'On the "positivist" side of the controversy, regarding the authenticity of the inscription, we now have published opinions by most of the world's leading epigraphers (none of whom is a "biblicist" in Thompson's sense): the inscription means exactly what it says.' William Dever, 2004, 'What Did The Biblical Authors Know, And When Did They Know It?', pages 128-129
2. Athas, G., The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappaisal and a New Interpretation, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supp 360; CIS 12 (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003).
3. See the reviews by William Schniedewind and Nadav Na’aman in ‘’Review of Biblical Literature’’[1]
4. Suriano, M., “The Apology of Hazael,” 163–176
5. Davies, P.R. 1994. “‘House of David’ Built on Sand: The Sins of the Biblical Maximizers.” Biblical Archaeology Review 20/4.
6. Kenneth Kitchen, 2003, 'On The Reliability Of The Old Testament', pages 452-453
7. William Dever, 2004, 'What Did The Biblical Authors Know, And When Did They Know It?', pages 128-129
[edit] Bibliography
Athas, George, The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappaisal and a New Interpretation, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supp 360; CIS 12 (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003). ISBN 0-567-04043-7.
Biran, Avraham and Joseph Naveh, "An Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan," Israel Exploration Journal 43 (1993): 81-98.
Biran, Avraham and Joseph Naveh, "The Tel Dan Inscription: A New Fragment," Israel Exploration Journal 45 (1995): 1-18.
Davies, Philip R., “‘House of David’ Built on Sand: The Sins of the Biblical Maximizers.” Biblical Archaeology Review 20/4 (1994).
Mykytiuk, Lawrence J., Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200-539 B.C.E., SBL Academia Biblica Series 12 (Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004): 110-132 and 277. ISBN 1-58983-062-8.
Rainey, Anson F., "The 'House of David' and the House of the Deconstructionists," Biblical Archaeological Review, 20/6 (1994): 47.
Rendsburg, Gary A., "On the Writing ביתדוד in the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan," Israel Exploration Journal 45 (1995): 22-25.
Schniedewind, William M. (with Bruce Zuckerman), "A Possible Reconstruction of the Name of Hazael's Father in the Tel Dan Inscription," Israel Exploration Journal 51 (2001): 88-91.
Schniedewind, William M., "Tel Dan Stela: New Light on Aramaic and Jehu's Revolt." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 302 (1996): 75-90.
Suriano, Matthew J., “The Apology of Hazael: A Literary and Historical Analysis of the Tel Dan Inscription,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 66/3 (2007): 163-76.
Site Admin
Posts: 17163
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:14 am

Letter of Aristeas

The so-called Letter of Aristeas or Letter to Philocrates is a Hellenistic work of the second century BCE, one of the Pseudepigrapha.[1] Josephus[2] who paraphrases about two-fifths of the letter, ascribes it to Aristeas and written to Philocrates, describing the Greek translation of the Hebrew Law by seventy-two interpreters sent into Egypt from Jerusalem at the request of the librarian of Alexandria, resulting in the Septuagint translation. Though some have argued that its story of the creation of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible is fictitious,[3] it is the earliest text to mention the Library of Alexandria.

Over twenty manuscripts of this letter are preserved and it is often mentioned and quoted in other texts. Its supposed author, purporting to be a courtier of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (reigned 281-246 BCE) is most often referred to as pseudo-Aristeas[4]

The work relates how the king of Egypt, presumably Ptolemy II Philadephus, is urged by his librarian Demetrios of Phalaron[5] to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek: the Pentateuch. The king responds favorably, including giving freedom to Jews who had been taken into captivity by his predecessors and sending lavish gifts (which are described in great detail) to the Temple in Jerusalem along with his envoys. The high priest chooses exactly six men from each of the twelve tribes,[6] giving 72 in all; he gives a long sermon in praise of the Law. When the translators arrive in Alexandria the king weeps for joy and for the next seven days puts philosophical questions to the translators, the wise answers to which are related in full. The 72 translators then complete their task in exactly 72 days. The Jews of Alexandria, on hearing the Law read in Greek, request copies and lay a curse on anyone who would change the translation. The king then rewards the translators lavishly and they return home.

A main goal of the second-century author seems to be to establish the superiority of the Greek Septuagint text over any other version of the Hebrew Bible. The author is noticeably pro-Greek, portraying Zeus as simply another name for Hashem, and while criticism is lodged against idolatry and Greek sexual ethics, the argument is phrased in such a way as to attempt to persuade the reader to change, rather than as a hostile attack. The manner in which the author concentrates on describing Judaism, and particularly its temple in Jerusalem could be viewed as an attempt to proselytise.

Early philological analysis detected that the letter was a forgery. In 1684, Humphrey Hody published Contra historiam Aristeae de LXX. interpretibus dissertatio, in which he argued that the so called "Letter of Aristeas" was the late forgery of a Hellenized Jew, originally circulated to lend authority to the Septuagint version. Isaac Vossius (1618-1689), who had been librarian to Queen Christina of Sweden, published a rebuttal to it, in the appendix to his edition of Pomponius Mela, but modern scholarship is unanimously with Hody.

Victor Tcherikover (Hebrew University) summed up the scholarly consensus in 1958:

"Modern scholars commonly regard the “Letter of Aristeas” as a work typical of Jewish apologetics, aiming at self-defense and propaganda, and directed to the Greeks. Here are some instances illustrating this general view. In 1903. Friedlander wrote that the glorification of Judaism in the letter was no more than self-defense, though “the book does not mention the antagonists of Judaism by name, nor does it admit that its intention is to refute direct attacks.” Stein sees in the letter “a special kind of defense, which practices diplomatic tactics,” and Tramontano also speaks of “an apologetic and propagandist tendency.” Vincent characterizes it as “a small unapologetic novel written for the Egyptians” (i.e. the Greeks in Egypt). Pheiffer says: “This fanciful story of the origin of the Septuagint is merely a pretext for defending Judaism against its heathen denigrators, for extolling its nobility and reasonableness, and first striving to convert Greek speaking Gentiles to it.” Schürer classes the letter with a special kind of literature, “Jewish propaganda in Pagan disguise,” whose works are “directed to the pagan reader, in order to make propaganda for Judaism among the Gentiles.” Andrews, too, believes that the role of a Greek was assumed by Aristeas in order “to strengthen the force of the argument and commend it to non-Jewish readers.”[7]

Scholars avid for the scant information about the Library and the Musaeum of Alexandria, have depended on ps-Aristeas, who "has that least attractive quality in a source: to be trusted only where corroborated by better evidence, and there unneeded," Roger Bagnall concluded.[8]


1. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. (Palo Alto: Mayfield) 1985; André Pelletier, SJ, La Lettre d'Aristée à Philocrate (Paris) 1962.
2. Antiquities XII:ii passim. Online in Greek and English at York University
3. the narrative is "open to the gravest suspicion , and the letter abounds with improbabilities and is now generally regarded as more or less fabulous," observed The Classical Review 335/6 (August-September 1919:123), reporting H. St.J. Tackeray's The Letter of Aristeas, with an Appendix of the Ancient Evidence on the Origin of the LXX..
4. Prosographia Ptolemaica 6 (Leuven 1968: §14588) considers him probably fictitious.
5. Demetrius, a client of Ptolemy I Soter, is not a good candidate as a collaborator with Ptolemy II, Roger S. Bagnall notes, in "Alexandria: Library of Dreams", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 146.4 (December 2002:348-362) p. 348; he made the strategic mistake at the beginning of the reign of supporting Ptolemy's older half-brother, and was punished with internal exile, dying soon afterwards.
6. The writer of the letters supposes that there were currently twelve tribes in Judea.
7. V. Tcherikover, "The Ideology of the Letter of Aristeas" Harvard Theological Review 51.2 (April 1958), pp. 59-85 (JSTOR ref.)
Site Admin
Posts: 17163
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:15 am

Masoretic Text
by Wikipedia

The Masoretic Text (MT) is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible regarded almost universally as the official version of the Tanakh. It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation known as the Masorah. The MT is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent years (since 1943) also for Catholic Bibles.[1] In modern times the Dead Sea Scrolls have shown the MT to be nearly identical to some texts of the Tanakh dating from 200 B.C.E. but different from others.

The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the seventh and tenth centuries CE. Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early second century (and also differ little from some Qumran texts that are even older), it has numerous differences of both greater and lesser significance when compared to (extant 4th century) manuscripts of the Septuagint, a Greek translation (made in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC) of the Hebrew Scriptures that was in popular use in Egypt and Palestine and that is often quoted in the New Testament.

The Hebrew word mesorah (מסורה, alt. מסורת) refers to the transmission of a tradition. In a very broad sense it can refer to the entire chain of Jewish tradition (see Oral law), but in reference to the Masoretic Text the word mesorah has a very specific meaning: the diacritic markings of the text of the Hebrew Bible and concise marginal notes in manuscripts (and later printings) of the Hebrew Bible which note textual details, usually about the precise spelling of words.

The oldest extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the ninth century AD,[2] and the Aleppo Codex (once the oldest complete copy of the Masoretic Text, but now missing its Torah section) dates from the tenth century.


The Nash Papyrus (2nd century BC) contains a portion of a pre-Masoretic Text, specifically the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer.

Origin and transmission

The Talmud (and also Karaite mss.) states that a standard copy of the Hebrew Bible was kept in the court of the Temple in Jerusalem for the benefit of copyists; there were paid correctors of Biblical books among the officers of the Temple (Talmud, tractate Ketubot 106a). This copy is mentioned in the Aristeas Letter (§ 30; comp. Blau, Studien zum Althebr. Buchwesen, p. 100); in the statements of Philo (preamble to his "Analysis of the Political Constitution of the Jews") and in Josephus (Contra Ap. i. 8).

Another Talmudic story, perhaps referring to an earlier time, relates that three Torah scrolls were found in the Temple court but were at variance with each other. The differences were then resolved by majority decision among the three.

Second Temple period

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, dating from c.150 BC–AD 75, shows however that in this period there was not always the scrupulous uniformity of text that was so stressed in later centuries. The scrolls show numerous small variations in orthography, both as against the later Masoretic text, and between each other. It is also evident from the notings of corrections and of variant alternatives that scribes felt free to choose according to their personal taste and discretion between different readings.[3] However, despite these variations, most of the Qumran fragments can be classified as being closer to the Masoretic text than to any other text group that has survived. According to Shiffman, 60% can be classed as being of proto-Masoretic type, and a further 20% Qumran style with bases in proto-Masoretic texts, compared to 5% proto-Samaritan type, 5% Septuagintal type, and 10% non-aligned.[4] Furthermore, according to Haas, most of the texts which vary from the Masoretic type, including four of the Septuagint type manuscript fragments, were found in Cave 4. "This is the cave where the texts were not preserved carefully in jars. It is conjectured, that cave 4 was a geniza for the depositing of texts that were damaged or had textual errors." [5] On the other hand, some of the fragments conforming most accurately to the Masoretic text were found in Cave 4.[6]

Rabbinic period

An emphasis on minute details of words and spellings, already used among the Pharisees as bases for argumentation, reached its height with the example of Rabbi Akiva (d. AD 135). The idea of a perfect text sanctified in its consonantal base quickly spread throughout the Jewish communities via supportive statements in Halakha, Aggada, and Jewish thought;[3] and with it increasingly forceful strictures leading ultimately to the statement in medieval times that a deviation in even a single letter would make a Torah scroll invalid.[7] Very few manuscripts are said to have survived the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.[8] This both drastically reduced the number of variants in circulation, and gave a new urgency that the text must be preserved. New Greek translations were also made. Unlike the Septuagint, large-scale deviations in sense between the Greek of Aquila and Theodotion and what we now know as the Masoretic text are minimal. Detailed variations between different Hebrew texts in use still clearly existed though, as witnessed by differences between the present-day Masoretic text and versions mentioned in the Gemara, and often even Halachic midrashim based on spelling versions which do not exist in the current Masoretic text.[3] (Mostly, however, these variations are limited to whether particular words should be written plene or defectively - i.e. whether a mater lectionis consonant to represent a particular vowel sound should or should not be included in a particular word at a particular point).

The Age of the Masoretes

The current received text finally achieved predominance through the reputation of the Masoretes, schools of scribes and Torah scholars working between the 7th and 11th centuries, based primarily in Palestine in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, and in Babylonia. These schools developed such prestige for the accuracy and error-control of their copying techniques that their texts established an authority beyond all others.[3] Differences remained, sometimes bolstered by systematic local differences in pronunciation and cantillation. Every locality, following the tradition of its school, had a standard codex embodying its readings. In Babylonia the school of Sura differed from that of Nehardea; and similar differences existed in the schools of the Land of Israel as against that at Tiberias, which in later times increasingly became the chief seat of learning. In this period living tradition ceased, and the Masoretes in preparing their codices usually followed the one school or the other, examining, however, standard codices of other schools and noting their differences.

ben Asher and ben Naphtali

In the first half of the tenth century Aaron ben Moses ben Asher and Moshe ben Naphtali (often just called ben Asher and ben Naphtali) were the leading Masoretes in Tiberias. Their names have come to symbolise the variations among Masoretes, but the differences between ben Asher and ben Naphtali should not be exaggerated. There are hardly any differences between them regarding the consonants, though they differ more on vocalization and accents. Also, there were other authorities such as Rabbi Pinchas and Moshe Moheh, and ben Asher and ben Naphtali often agree against these others. Further, it is possible that all variations found among manuscripts eventually came to be regarded as disagreements between these figureheads. Ben Asher wrote a standard codex (the Aleppo Codex) embodying his opinions. Probably ben Naphtali did too, but it has not survived.

It has been suggested that there never was an actual "ben Naphtali"; rather, the name was chosen (based on the Bible, where Asher and Naphtali are the younger sons of Zilpah and Bilhah) to designate any tradition different from Ben Asher's. This is unlikely, as there exist lists of places where ben Asher and ben Naphtali agree against other authorities.

Ben Asher was the last of a distinguished family of Masoretes extending back to the latter half of the eighth century. Despite the rivalry of ben Naphtali and the opposition of Saadia Gaon, the most eminent representative of the Babylonian school of criticism, ben Asher's codex became recognized as the standard text of the Bible.

The Middle Ages

The two rival authorities, ben Asher and ben Naphtali, practically brought the Masorah to a close. Very few additions were made by the later Masoretes, styled in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Naḳdanim, who revised the works of the copyists, added the vowels and accents (generally in fainter ink and with a finer pen) and frequently the Masorah.

Considerable influence on the development and spread of Masoretic literature was exercised during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries by the Franco-German school of Tosafists. R. Gershom, his brother Machir, Joseph ben Samuel Bonfils (Tob 'Elem) of Limoges, R. Tam (Jacob ben Meïr), Menahem ben Perez of Joigny, Perez ben Elijah of Corbeil, Judah of Paris, Meïr Spira, and R. Meïr of Rothenburg made Masoretic compilations, or additions to the subject, which are all more or less frequently referred to in the marginal glosses of Biblical codices and in the works of Hebrew grammarians. Many believe that the ben Asher family were Karaites.


By long tradition, a ritual Torah scroll shall contain only the Hebrew consonantal text - nothing may be added, nothing taken away. However, perhaps because they were intended for personal study rather than ritual use, the Masoretic codices provide extensive additional material, called masorah, to show correct pronunciation and cantillation, protect against scribal errors, and annotate possible variants. The manuscripts thus include vowel points, pronunciation marks and stress accents in the text, short annotations in the side margins, and longer more extensive notes in the upper and lower margins and collected at the end of each book.


The Hebrew word masorah is taken from Ezekiel 20:37 and means originally "fetter". The fixation of the text was considered to be in the nature of a fetter upon its exposition. When, in the course of time, the Masorah had become a traditional discipline, the term became connected with the verb ( = "to hand down"), and acquired the general meaning of "tradition."

Language and form

The language of the Masoretic notes is partly Hebrew and partly Aramaic. The Masoretic annotations are found in various forms: (a) in separate works, e.g., the Oklah we-Oklah; (b) in the form of notes written in the margins and at the end of codices. In rare cases, the notes are written between the lines. The first word of each Biblical book is also as a rule surrounded by notes. The latter are called the Initial Masorah; the notes on the side margins or between the columns are called the Small or Inner Masorah; and those on the lower and upper margins, the Large or Outer Masorah. The name "Large Masorah" is applied sometimes to the lexically arranged notes at the end of the printed Bible, usually called the Final Masorah, or the Masoretic Concordance.

The Small Masorah consists of brief notes with reference to marginal readings, to statistics showing the number of times a particular form is found in Scripture, to full and defective spelling, and to abnormally written letters. The Large Masorah is more copious in its notes. The Final Masorah comprises all the longer rubrics for which space could not be found in the margin of the text, and is arranged alphabetically in the form of a concordance. The quantity of notes the marginal Masorah contains is conditioned by the amount of vacant space on each page. In the manuscripts it varies also with the rate at which the copyist was paid and the fanciful shape he gave to his gloss.

In most manuscripts, there are some discrepancies between the text and the masorah, suggesting that they were copied from different sources or that one of them has copying errors. The lack of such discrepancies in the Aleppo Codex is one of the reasons for its importance; the scribe who copied the notes, presumably Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, probably wrote them originally.

Numerical Masorah

In classical antiquity, copyists were paid for their work according to the number of stichs (lines of verse). As the prose books of the Bible were hardly ever written in stichs, the copyists, in order to estimate the amount of work, had to count the letters. For the Masoretic Text, such statistical information more importantly also ensured accuracy in the transmission of the text with the production of subsequent copies that were done by hand.

Hence the Masoretes contributed the Numerical Masorah. These notes are traditionally categorized into two main groups: the marginal Masorah and the final Masorah. The category of marginal Masorah is further divided into the Masorah parva (small Masorah) in the outer side margins and the Masorah magna (large Masorah), traditionally located at the top and bottom margins of the text.

The Masorah parva is a set of statistics in the outer side margins of the text. Beyond simply counting the letters, the Masorah parva consists of word-use statistics, similar documentation for expressions or certain phraseology, observations on full or defective writing, references to the Kethiv-Qere readings and more. These observations are also the result of a passionate zeal to safeguard the accurate transmission of the sacred text.

The Masorah magna, in measure, is an expanded Masorah parva. It is not printed in BHS.

The final Masorah is located at the end of biblical books or after certain sections of the text, such as at the end of the Torah. It contains information and statistics regarding the number of words in a book or section, etc.

Thus (Leviticus 8:23) is the middle verse in the Pentateuch; all the names of Divinity mentioned in connection with Abraham are holy except (Genesis 18:3); ten passages in the Pentateuch are dotted; three times the Pentateuch has the spelling לא where the reading is לו. The collation of manuscripts and the noting of their differences furnished material for the Text-Critical Masorah. The close relation which existed in earlier times (from the Soferim to the Amoraim inclusive) between the teacher of tradition and the Masorete, both frequently being united in one person, accounts for the Exegetical Masorah. Finally, the invention and introduction of a graphic system of vocalization and accentuation gave rise to the Grammatical Masorah.

The most important of the Masoretic notes are those that detail the Kethiv-Qere that are located in the Masorah parva in the outside margins of BHS. Given that the Masoretes would not alter the sacred consonantal text, the Kethiv-Qere notes were a way of "correcting" or commenting on the text for any number of reasons (grammatical, theological, aesthetic, etc.) deemed important by the copyist. [Reference: Pratico and Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, Zondervan. 2001. p406ff]

Fixing of the text

The earliest labors of the Masoretes included standardizing division of the text into books, sections, paragraphs, verses, and clauses (probably in the chronological order here enumerated); the fixing of the orthography, pronunciation, and cantillation; the introduction or final adoption of the square characters with the five final letters (comp. Numbers and Numerals); some textual changes to guard against blasphemy and the like (though these changes may pre-date the Masoretes - see Tikkune Soferim); the enumeration of letters, words, verses, etc., and the substitution of some words for others in public reading.

Since no additions were allowed to be made to the official text of the Bible, the early Masoretes adopted other expedients: e.g., they marked the various divisions by spacing, and gave indications of halakic and haggadic teachings by full or defective spelling, abnormal forms of letters, dots, and other signs. Marginal notes were permitted only in private copies, and the first mention of such notes is found in the case of R. Meïr (c. AD 100-150).

Tikkune Soferim

Early rabbinic sources, from around AD 200, mention several passages of Scripture in which the conclusion is inevitable that the ancient reading must have differed from that of the present text. The explanation of this phenomenon is given in the expression ("Scripture has used euphemistic language," i.e. to avoid anthropomorphism and anthropopathy).

Rabbi Simon ben Pazzi (third century) calls these readings "emendations of the Scribes" (tikkune Soferim; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlix. 7), assuming that the Scribes actually made the changes. This view was adopted by the later Midrash and by the majority of Masoretes. In Masoretic works these changes are ascribed to Ezra; to Ezra and Nehemiah; to Ezra and the Soferim; or to Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Haggai, and Baruch. All these ascriptions mean one and the same thing: that the changes were assumed to have been made by the Men of the Great Synagogue.

The term tikkun Soferim has been understood by different scholars in various ways. Some regard it as a correction of Biblical language authorized by the Soferim for homiletical purposes. Others take it to mean a mental change made by the original writers or redactors of Scripture; i.e. the latter shrank from putting in writing a thought which some of the readers might expect them to express.

The assumed emendations are of four general types:

• Removal of unseemly expressions used in reference to God; e.g., the substitution of ("to bless") for ("to curse") in certain passages.
• Safeguarding of the Tetragrammaton; e.g. substitution of "Elohim" for "YHVH" in some passages.
• Removal of application of the names of pagan gods, e.g. the change of the name "Ishbaal" to "Ishbosheth."
• Safeguarding the unity of divine worship at Jerusalem.

Mikra and ittur

Among the earliest technical terms used in connection with activities of the Scribes are the "mikra Soferim" and "ittur Soferim." In the geonic schools, the first term was taken to signify certain vowel-changes which were made in words in pause or after the article; the second, the cancellation in a few passages of the "vav" conjunctive, where it had by some been wrongly read. The objection to such an explanation is that the first changes would fall under the general head of fixation of pronunciation, and the second under the head of "Qere" and "Ketiv". Various explanations have, therefore, been offered by ancient as well as modern scholars without, however, succeeding in furnishing a completely satisfactory solution.

Suspended letters and dotted words

There are four words having one of their letters suspended above the line. One of them, (Judges 18:30), is due to an alteration of the original out of reverence for Moses; rather than say that Moses' grandson became an idolatrous priest, a suspended nun was inserted to turn Mosheh into Menasheh (Manasseh). The origin of the other three (Psalms 80:14; Job 38:13, 15) is doubtful. According to some, they are due to mistaken majuscular letters; according to others, they are later insertions of originally omitted weak consonants.

In fifteen passages in the Bible, some words are stigmatized; i.e., dots appear above the letters. (Gen 16:5, 18:9, 19:33, 33:4, 37:12, Num 3:39, 9:10, 21:30, 29:15, Deut. 29:28, 2Sam 19:20, Isaiah 44:9, Ez 41:20, 46:22, Ps 27:13) The significance of the dots is disputed. Some hold them to be marks of erasure; others believe them to indicate that in some collated manuscripts the stigmatized words were missing, hence that the reading is doubtful; still others contend that they are merely a mnemonic device to indicate homiletical explanations which the ancients had connected with those words; finally, some maintain that the dots were designed to guard against the omission by copyists of text-elements which, at first glance or after comparison with parallel passages, seemed to be superfluous. Instead of dots some manuscripts exhibit strokes, vertical or else horizontal. The first two explanations are unacceptable for the reason that such faulty readings would belong to Qere and Ketiv, which, in case of doubt, the majority of manuscripts would decide. The last two theories have equal probability.

Inverted letters

In nine passages of the Bible are found signs usually called "inverted nuns," because they resemble the Hebrew letter nun ( נ ) written in some inverted fashion. The exact shape varies between different manuscripts and printed editions. In many manuscripts, a reversed nun is found—referred to as a "nun hafucha" by the masoretes. In some earlier printed editions, they are shown as the standard nun upside down or rotated, because the printer did not want to bother to design a character to be used only nine times. The recent scholarly editions of the Masoretic Text show the reversed nun as described by the masoretes. In some manuscripts, however, other symbols are occasionally found instead. These are sometimes referred to in rabbinical literature as "simaniyot," (markers).

The primary set of inverted nuns is found surrounding the text of Numbers 10:35-36. The Mishna notes that this text is 85 letters long and dotted. This demarcation of this text leads to the later use of the inverted nun markings. Saul Lieberman demonstrated that similar markings can be found in ancient Greek texts where they are also used to denote 'short texts'. During the Medieval period, the inverted nuns were actually inserted into the text of the early Rabbinic Bibles published by Bomberg in the early 16th century. The talmud records that the markings surrounding Numbers 10:35 - 36 were thought to denote that this 85 letter text was not in its proper place. One opinion goes so far as to say that it would appear in another location in a later edition of the Torah!

Bar Kappara is known to have considered our Torah as comprised of 7 volumes in the Gemara "The seven pillars with which Wisdom built her house (Prov. 9:1) are the seven Books of Moses". Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus and Deuteronomy as we know them but Numbers was really 3 separate volumes Num 1:1 to Num 10:35 followed by Number 10:35-36 and the third text from there to the end of Numbers.

The 85 letter text is also said to be denoted because it is the model for the least number of letters which constitute a 'text' which one would be required to save from fire due to its holiness.

History of the Masorah

The history of the Masorah may be divided into three periods: (1) creative period, from its beginning to the introduction of vowel-signs; (2) reproductive period, from the introduction of vowel-signs to the printing of the Masorah (1525); (3) critical period, from 1525 to the present time.

The materials for the history of the first period are scattered remarks in Talmudic and Midrashic literature, in the post-Talmudical treatises Masseket Sefer Torah and Masseket Soferim, and in a Masoretic chain of tradition found in ben Asher's "Diḳduḳe ha-Ṭe'amim," § 69 and elsewhere.

Critical study

Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah, having collated a vast number of manuscripts, systematized his material and arranged the Masorah in the second Bomberg edition of the Bible (Venice, 1524-25). Besides introducing the Masorah into the margin, he compiled at the close of his Bible a concordance of the Masoretic glosses for which he could not find room in a marginal form, and added an elaborate introduction – the first treatise on the Masorah ever produced. In spite of its numerous errors, this work has been considered by some as the "textus receptus" of the Masorah (Würthwein 1995:39), and was used for the English translation of the Old Testament for the King James Version of the Bible.

Next to Ibn Adonijah the critical study of the Masorah has been most advanced by Elijah Levita, who published his famous "Massoret ha-Massoret" in 1538. The "Tiberias" of the elder Buxtorf (1620) made Levita's researches more accessible to a Christian audience. The eighth prolegomenon to Walton's Polyglot Bible is largely a réchauffé of the "Tiberias". Levita compiled likewise a vast Masoretic concordance, "Sefer ha-Zikronot," which still lies in the National Library at Paris unpublished. The study is indebted also to R. Meïr b. Todros ha-Levi (RaMaH), who, as early as the thirteenth century, wrote his "Sefer Massoret Seyag la-Torah" (correct ed. Florence, 1750); to Menahem Lonzano, who composed a treatise on the Masorah of the Pentateuch entitled "Or Torah"; and in particular to Jedidiah Norzi, whose "Minḥat Shai" contains valuable Masoretic notes based on a careful study of manuscripts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have shed new light on the history of the Masoretic Text. Many texts found there, especially those from Masada, 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, including many of those from Qumran, differ substantially, indicating that the Masoretic Text was but one of a diverse set of Biblical writings (Lane Fox 1991:99-106; Tov 1992:115). §Among the rejected books by both the Judaic and Catholic canons was found the Book of Enoch, the Manual of Discipline or "Rule of the Community" (1QS) and the "The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness." (1QM).[9]

Some important editions

There have been very many published editions of the Masoretic text; this is a list of some of the most important.

• Daniel Bomberg, ed. Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah, 1524-1525, Venice
The second Rabbinic Bible, which served as the base for all future editions. This was the source text used by the translators of the King James Version in 1611 and the New King James Version in 1982.[10]
• Everard van der Hooght, 1705, Amsterdam and Utrecht
This was practically a reprint of the Athias-Leusden edition of 1667; but at the end it has variants taken from a number of printed editions. It has been much prized because of its excellent and clear type; but no manuscripts were used in its preparation. Nearly all 18th century and 19th century Bibles were almost exact reprints of this edition.
• Benjamin Kennicott, 1776, Oxford
As well as the van der Hooght text, this included the Samaritan Pentateuch and a huge collection of variants from manuscripts and early printed editions; while this collection has many errors, it is still of some value. The collection of variants was corrected and extended by Johann Bernard de Rossi (1784–8), but his publications gave only the variants without a complete text.
• Meir Letteris, 1852; 2nd edition, 1866 (published British and Foreign Bible Society)
The 1852 edition was yet another copy of van der Hooght. The 1866 edition, however, was carefully checked against old manuscripts. It is probably the most widely reproduced text of the Hebrew Bible in history, with many dozens of authorised reprints and many more pirated and unacknowledged ones.
• Seligman Baer and Franz Delitzsch, 1869–1895 (Exodus to Deuteronomy never appeared)
• Christian David Ginsburg, 1894; 2nd edition, 1908–1926
The first edition was very close to the second Bomberg edition, but with variants added from a number of manuscripts and all of the earliest printed editions, collated with far more care than the work of Kennicott; he did all the work himself. The second edition diverged slightly more from Bomberg, and collated more manuscripts; he did most of the work himself, but failing health forced him to rely partly on his wife and other assistants.[11]
• Biblia Hebraica, first two editions, 1906, 1912; virtually identical to the second Bomberg edition but with variants from Hebrew sources and early translations in the footnotes
• Biblia Hebraica, third edition based on the Leningrad Codex, 1937
• Umberto Cassuto, 1953 (based on Ginsburg 2nd edition but revised based on the Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex and other early manuscipts)
• Norman Snaith, 1958 (published British and Foreign Bible Society)
Snaith based it on Sephardi manuscripts such as British Museum Or. 2626-28, and said that he had not relied on Letteris. However, it has been shown that he must have prepared his copy by amending a copy of Letteris, because while there are many differences, it has many of the same typographical errors as Letteris. Snaith's printer even went so far as to break printed vowels to match the broken characters in Letteris. Snaith combined the accent system of Letteris with the system found in Sephardi manuscripts, thereby creating accentuation patterns found nowhere else in any manuscript or printed edition.
• Hebrew University Bible Project, 1965-
Started by Moshe Goshen-Gottstein, this follows the text of the Aleppo Codex where extant and otherwise the Leningrad Codex. It includes a wide variety of variants from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, early Rabbinic literature and selected early mediaeval manuscripts. So far, only Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have been published.
• The Koren Bible by Koren Publishers Jerusalem, 1962
The text was derived by comparing a number of printed Bibles, and following the majority when there were discrepancies.
• Aron Dotan, based on the Leningrad Codex, 1976
• Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, revision of Biblia Hebraica (third edition), 1977
• Mordechai Breuer, based on the Aleppo Codex, 1977–1982
• The Jerusalem Crown, 2001: this is a revised version of Breuer, and is the official version used in inaugurating the President of Israel
• Biblia Hebraica Quinta, revision of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia; only three volumes (Five Megilloth, Ezra and Nehemiah, Deuteronomy) have been published so far.

Hebrew Bible
Q're perpetuum
Samaritan Pentateuch
Micrography Decorative illustrations often made using the text of the Mesorah in medieval Pentateuch codexes.


1. Pope Pius XII on 3 September 1943 decreed the Divino Afflante Spiritu which allowed Catholic translations based on other versions than just the Latin Vulgate, notably in English the New American Bible.
2. A seventh century fragment containing the Song of the Sea (Exodus 13:19-16:1) is one of the few surviving texts from the "silent era" of Hebrew biblical texts between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aleppo Codex. See "Rare scroll fragment to be unveiled," Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2007.
3. a b c d Menachem Cohen, The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism in HaMikrah V'anachnu, ed. Uriel Simon, HaMachon L'Yahadut U'Machshava Bat-Z'mananu and Dvir, Tel-Aviv, 1979
4. Shiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls
5. Gretchen Haas[citation needed]
6. Ulrich, E., Cross, F. M., Davila, J. R., Jastram, N., Sanderson, J. E., Tov, E. and Strugnell, J. (1994). Qumran Cave 4, VII, Genesis to Numbers. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 12. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
7. Rambam, The Laws of Tefillin, Mezuzot, and Torah Scrolls, 1:2
8. Sir Godfrey Driver, Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible, 1970
9. Mansoor, Menahem. The Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, Michigan and Driver, G. R., The Judaean Scrolls. Great Britain: Oxford, 1965.
10. Price, James D. (1994-02-14). "This file is a letter I wrote to Mrs. Ripplinger in 1994 in response to her book, New Age Bible Versions. It deals primarily with her criticism of the New King James Version." (MS Word). James D. Price Publications. ... ,_1994.doc. Retrieved 2009-03-18. "But regardless of these details, as former executive editor of the NKJV Old Testament, I can confidently assure you that the NKJV followed, as carefully as possible, the Bobmerg 1524-25 Ben Chayyim edition that the KJV 1611 translators used--I personally made sure."
11. "Introduction to the Ginsburg Edition of the Hebrew Old Testament", British and Foreign Bible Society, 1928.
Site Admin
Posts: 17163
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:17 am


Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work, simply, "whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past."[1] The word "pseudepigrapha" (from the Greek: ψευδής, pseudēs, "false" and ἐπιγραφή, epigraphē, "inscription"; see the related epigraphy) is the plural of "pseudepigraphon" (sometimes Latinized as "pseudepigraphum"); the Anglicized forms "pseudepigraph" and "pseudepigraphs" are also used.

The Book of Enoch is an example of a pseudepigraph; no Hebrew scholars would ascribe its authorship to Enoch, a figure mentioned in Genesis 5. Nevertheless, in some cases, especially for books belonging to a religious canon, the question of whether a text is pseudepigraphical or not elicits sensations of loyalty and can become a matter of heavy dispute. The authenticity or value of the work itself, which is a separate question for experienced readers, often becomes sentimentally entangled in the association. Though the inherent value of the text may not be called into question, the weight of a revered or even apostolic author lends authority to a text: in Antiquity pseudepigraphy was "an accepted and honored custom practiced by students/admirers of a revered figure".[2] This is the essential motivation for pseudepigraphy in the first place.

Pseudepigraphy covers the false ascription of names of authors to works, even to perfectly authentic works that make no such claim within their text. Thus a widely accepted but incorrect attribution of authorship may make a perfectly authentic text pseudepigraphical. Assessing the actual writer of a text brings questions of pseudepigraphical attributions within the discipline of literary criticism. In a parallel case, forgers have been known to improve the market value of a perfectly genuine 17th-century Dutch painting by adding a painted signature Rembrandt fecit.

On a related note, a famous name assumed by the author of a work is an allonym.

These are the basic and original meanings of the terms.

In Biblical studies, the Pseudepigrapha are Jewish religious works written c 200 BC to 200 AD, not all of which are literally pseudepigraphical.[3] They are distinguished by Protestants from the Deuterocanonical (Catholic and Orthodox) or Apocrypha (Protestant), the books that appear in the Septuagint and Vulgate but not in the Hebrew Bible or in Protestant Bibles.[3] Catholics distinguish only between the Deuterocanonical and all the other books, that are called Apocrypha, a name that is used also for the Pseudepigrapha in the Catholic usage.

Classical and Biblical studies

There have probably been pseudepigrapha almost from the invention of full writing. For example ancient Greek authors often refer to texts which claimed to be by Orpheus or his pupil Musaeus but which attributions were generally disregarded. Already in Antiquity the collection known as the "Homeric hymns" was recognized as pseudepigraphical, that is, not actually written by Homer.

Literary studies

In secular literary studies, when works of Antiquity have been demonstrated not to have been written by the authors to whom they have traditionally been ascribed, some writers apply the prefix pseudo- to their names. Thus the encyclopedic compilation of Greek myth called Bibliotheke is often now attributed, not to Apollodorus, but to "pseudo-Apollodorus" and the Catasterismi, recounting the translations of mythic figure into asterisms and constellations, not to the serious astronomer Eratosthenes, but to a "pseudo-Eratosthenes". The prefix may be abbreviated, as in "ps-Apollodorus" or "ps-Eratosthenes".

Biblical studies

In Biblical studies, pseudepigrapha refers particularly to works which purport to be written by noted authorities in either the Old and New Testaments or by persons involved in Jewish or Christian religious study or history. These works can also be written about Biblical matters, often in such a way that they appear to be as authoritative as works which have been included in the many versions of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Eusebius of Caesarea indicates this usage dates back at least to Serapion, bishop of Antioch)[clarification needed] whom Eusebius records[4] as having said: "But those writings which are falsely inscribed with their name (ta pseudepigrapha), we as experienced persons reject...."

Many such works were also referred to as Apocrypha, which originally connoted "secret writings", those that were rejected for liturgical public reading. An example of a text that is both apocryphal and pseudepigraphical is the Odes of Solomon, pseudepigraphical because it was not actually written by Solomon but instead is a collection of early Christian (first to second century) hymns and poems, originally written not in Hebrew, and apocryphal because not accepted in either the Tanach or the New Testament.

But Protestants have also applied the word Apocrypha to texts found in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox scriptures which were not found in Hebrew manuscripts. Roman Catholics called those texts "deuterocanonical". Accordingly, there arose in some Protestant Biblical scholarship an extended use of the term pseudepigrapha for works that appeared as though they ought to be part of the Biblical canon, because of the authorship ascribed to them, but which stood outside both the Biblical canons recognized by Protestants and Catholics. These works were also outside the particular set of books that Roman Catholics called deuterocanonical and to which Protestants had generally applied the term Apocryphal. Accordingly, the term pseudepigraphical, as now used often among both Protestants and Roman Catholics (allegedly for the clarity it brings to discussion), may make it difficult to discuss questions of pseudepigraphical authorship of canonical books dispassionately with a lay audience. To confuse the matter even more, Orthodox Christians accept books as canonical that Roman Catholics and most Protestant denominations consider pseudepigraphical or at best of much less authority. There exist also churches that reject some of the books that Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants accept. The same is true of some Jewish sects.[clarification needed]

There is a tendency not to use the word pseudepigrapha when describing works later than about 300 AD when referring to Biblical matters. But the late-appearing Gospel of Barnabas, Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, the Pseudo-Apuleius (author of a fifth-century herbal ascribed to Apuleius), and the author traditionally referred to as the "Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite", are classic examples of pseudepigraphy. In the fifth century the moralist Salvian published Contra avaritiam under the name of Timothy; the letter in which he explained to his former pupil, Bishop Salonius, his motives for so doing survives.[5] There is also a category of modern pseudepigrapha.

Examples of Old Testament pseudepigrapha are the Ethiopian Book of Enoch, Jubilees (both of which are canonical in the Abyssinian Church of Ethiopia); the Life of Adam and Eve and the Pseudo-Philo. Examples of New Testament pseudepigrapha (but in these cases also likely to be called New Testament Apocrypha) are the Gospel of Peter and the attribution of the Epistle to the Laodiceans to Paul. Further examples of New Testament pseudepigrapha include the aforementioned Gospel of Barnabas, and the Gospel of Judas, which begins by presenting itself as "the secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot".

Biblical Pseudepigrapha

The term Pseudepigrapha commonly refers to numerous works of Jewish religious literature written from about 200 BC to 200 AD.[3] Not all of these works are actually pseudepigraphical.[3] Such works include the following:[3]

• 3 Maccabees
• 4 Maccabees
• Assumption of Moses
• Ethiopic Book of Enoch (1 Enoch)
• Slavonic Book of Enoch (2 Enoch)
• Book of Jubilees
• Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (3 Baruch)
• Letter of Aristeas
• Life of Adam and Eve
• Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah
• Psalms of Solomon
• Sibylline Oracles
• Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch)
• Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs


1. Bauckham, Richard; "Pseudo-Apostolic Letters", Journal of Biblical Literature, Vo. 107, No. 3, September 1988, pp.469–494.
2. Colossians as Pseudepigraphy (Bible Seminar, 4 Sheffield:JSOT Press) 1986, p. 12.[not specific enough to verify]
3. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
4. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae 6,12.
5. Salvian, Epistle, ix.


• von Fritz, Kurt, ed. Pseudepigraphica. 1 (Geneva:Fondation Hardt). Contributions on pseudopythagorica (the literature ascribed to Pythagoras), the Platonic Epistles, Jewish-Hellenistic literature, and the characteristics particular to religious forgeries.
• Kiley, Mark. Colossians as Pseudepigraphy (Bible Seminar, 4 Sheffield:JSOT Press) 1986. Colossians as a non-deceptive school product.
• Metzger, B.M. "Literary forgeries and canonical pseudepigrapha", Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (1972).
Site Admin
Posts: 17163
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:19 am


The Septuagint (pronounced /ˈsɛptʊ.ədʒɪnt/), or simply "LXX", referred to in critical works by the abbreviation ,[1] is the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, translated in stages between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE in Alexandria.[2] It was begun by the third century BCE and completed before 132 BCE.[3]

It is the oldest of several ancient translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean Basin from the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE).

The Septuagint was held in great respect in ancient times; Philo and Josephus (associated with Hellenistic Judaism) ascribed divine inspiration to its authors.[4] Besides the Old Latin versions, the LXX is also the basis for the Slavonic, the Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Old Testament.[5] Of significance for all Christians and for Bible scholars, the LXX is quoted by the New Testament and by the Apostolic Fathers.

Creation of the Septuagint

Jewish scholars (see also Hellenistic Judaism) first translated the Torah into Koine Greek in the third century BCE[6]. According to the record in the Talmud,

'King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: 'Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher.' God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did'[7]

Further books were translated over the next two centuries. It is not altogether clear which was translated when, or where; some may even have been translated twice, into different versions, and then revised.[8] The quality and style of the different translators also varied considerably from book to book, from the literal to paraphrasing to interpretative. According to one assessment "the Pentateuch is reasonably well translated, but the rest of the books, especially the poetical books, are often very poorly done and even contain sheer absurdities".[9]

As the work of translation progressed gradually, and new books were added to the collection, the compass of the Greek Bible came to be somewhat indefinite. The Pentateuch always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon; but the prophetic collection (out of which the Nevi'im were selected) changed its aspect by having various hagiographa incorporated into it. Some of the newer works, those called anagignoskomena in Greek, are not included in the Jewish canon. Among these books are Maccabees and the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Also, the Septuagint version of some works, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than those in the Masoretic Text.[10] Some of the later books (Wisdom of Solomon, 2 Maccabees, and others) apparently were composed in Greek.[11]

The authority of the larger group of "writings", out of which the ketuvim were selected, had not yet been determined, although some sort of selective process must have been employed because the Septuagint did not include other well-known Jewish documents such as Enoch or Jubilees or other writings that are now part of the Pseudepigrapha. It is not known what principles were used to determine the contents of the Septuagint beyond the "Law and the Prophets", a phrase used several times in the New Testament.

Naming and designation

The Septuagint derives its name from Latin Interpretatio septuaginta virorum, (Greek: ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα, hē metáphrasis tōn hebdomēkonta), "translation of the seventy interpreters".[2]

As stated in the Tractate Megillah of the Babylonian Talmud (pages 9a-9b), and later narrated by Philo of Alexandria, 72 Jewish translators were used to complete the translation while kept in separate chambers. They all produced identical versions of the text in seventy-two days. This story underlines the fact that Jews in antiquity wished to present the translation as authoritative in order to prevent criticism by non-Jews based on divergent translations.[4] The text in Megillah identifies fifteen specific unusual translations made by the scholars. Only two of these translations are found in the extant LXX.

The word septuaginta[12] means "seventy" in Latin (hence the abbreviation LXX), based on the Jewish source for the translation event that refers to the account, also found in the pseudepigraphic Letter of Aristeas which repeats the story of how seventy-two Jewish scholars were forced [??] [13] by the Greek King of Egypt Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the 3rd century BCE to translate the Torah (or Pentateuch) from Biblical Hebrew into Greek for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria.[4] In Hebrew it is known as Targum Shiv'im - "the translation of the 70".

Textual history

Modern scholarship holds that the LXX was written during the 3rd through 1st centuries BCE. But nearly all attempts at dating specific books, with the exception of the Pentateuch (early- to mid-3rd century BCE), are tentative and without consensus.[4]

Later Jewish revisions and recensions of the Greek against the Hebrew are well attested, the most famous of which include the Three: Aquila (AD 128), Symmachus, and Theodotion. These three, to varying degrees, are more literal renderings of their contemporary Hebrew scriptures as compared to the Old Greek. Modern scholars consider one or more of the 'three' to be totally new Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible.[14]

Around AD 235, Origen, a Christian scholar in Alexandria, completed the Hexapla, a comprehensive comparison of the ancient versions and Hebrew text side-by-side in six columns, with diacritical markings (a.k.a. "editor's marks", "critical signs" or "Aristarchian signs"). Much of this work was lost, but several compilations of the fragments are available. In the first column was the contemporary Hebrew, in the second a Greek transliteration of it, then the newer Greek versions each in their own columns. Origen also kept a column for the Old Greek (the Septuagint) and next to it was a critical apparatus combining readings from all the Greek versions with diacritical marks indicating to which version each line (Gr. στἰχος) belonged.[15] Perhaps the voluminous Hexapla was never copied in its entirety, but Origen's combined text ("the fifth column") was copied frequently, eventually without the editing marks, and the older uncombined text of the LXX was neglected. Thus this combined text became the first major Christian recension of the LXX, often called the Hexaplar recension. In the century following Origen, two other major recensions were identified by Jerome, who attributed these to Lucian and Hesychius.[4]

The oldest manuscripts of the LXX include 2nd century BCE fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957), and 1st century BCE fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Minor Prophets (Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943). Relatively complete manuscripts of the LXX postdate the Hexaplar rescension and include the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus of the 4th century and the Codex Alexandrinus of the 5th century. These are indeed the oldest surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language; the oldest extant complete Hebrew texts date some 600 years later, from the first half of the 10th century.[5][16] While there are differences between these three codices, scholarly consensus today holds that one LXX — that is, the original pre-Christian translation — underlies all three. The various Jewish and later Christian revisions and recensions are largely responsible for the divergence of the codices.[4]

Relationship between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text

The sources of the many differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text have long been discussed by scholars. The most widely accepted view today is that the original Septuagint provided a reasonably accurate record of an early Semitic textual variant, now lost, that differed from ancestors of the Masoretic text. Ancient scholars, however, had no reason to suspect such a possibility. Early Christians—who were largely unfamiliar with Hebrew texts, and were thus only made aware of the differences through the newer Greek versions—tended to dismiss the differences as a product of uninspired translation of the Hebrew in these new versions. Following the Renaissance, a common opinion among some humanists was that the LXX translators made a poor translation from the Hebrew and that the LXX became more corrupt with time.

These issues notwithstanding, the text of the LXX is generally close to that of the Masoretes. For example, Genesis 4:1-6 is identical in both the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Likewise, Genesis 4:8 to the end of the chapter is the same. There is only one noticeable difference in that chapter, at 4:7, to wit:

Genesis 4:7, LXX (NETS)
If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned? Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him.

Genesis 4:7, Masoretic (NRSV)
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

This instance illustrates the complexity of assessing differences between the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Despite the striking divergence of meaning here between the two, nearly identical consonantal Hebrew source texts can be reconstructed. The readily apparent semantic differences result from alternative strategies for interpreting the difficult verse and relate to differences in vowelization and punctuation of the consonantal text.

The differences between the LXX and the MT thus fall into four categories.[17]

1. Different Hebrew sources for the MT and the LXX. Evidence of this can be found throughout the Old Testament. Most obvious are major differences in Jeremiah and Job, where the LXX is much shorter and chapters appear in different order than in the MT, and Esther where almost one third of the verses in the LXX text have no parallel in the MT. A more subtle example may be found in Isaiah 36.11; the meaning ultimately remains the same, but the choice of words evidences a different text. The MT reads " tedaber yehudit be-'ozne ha`am al ha-homa" [speak not the Judean language in the ears of (or — which can be heard by) the people on the wall]. The same verse in the LXX reads according to the translation of Brenton "and speak not to us in the Jewish tongue: and wherefore speakest thou in the ears of the men on the wall." The MT reads "people" where the LXX reads "men". This difference is very minor and does not affect the meaning of the verse. Scholars at one time had used discrepancies such as this to claim that the LXX was a poor translation of the Hebrew original. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, variant Hebrew texts of the Bible were found. In fact this verse is found in Qumran (1QIsaa) where the Hebrew word "haanashim" (the men) is found in place of "haam" (the people). This discovery, and others like it, showed that even seemingly minor differences of translation could be the result of variant Hebrew source texts.

2. Differences in interpretation stemming from the same Hebrew text. A good example is Genesis 4.7, shown above.

3. Differences as a result of idiomatic translation issues (i.e. a Hebrew idiom may not easily translate into Greek, thus some difference is intentionally or unintentionally imparted). For example, in Psalm 47:10 the MT reads "The shields of the earth belong to God". The LXX reads "To God are the mighty ones of the earth." The metaphor "shields" would not have made much sense to a Greek speaker; thus the words "mighty ones" are substituted in order to retain the original meaning.

4. Transmission changes in Hebrew or Greek (Diverging revisionary/recensional changes and copyist errors)

Dead Sea Scrolls

The discovery of many Biblical fragments in the Dead Sea scrolls that agree with the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic Text proved that many of the variants in Greek were also present in early Semitic manuscripts.[18]

Many of the oldest Biblical fragments among the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the LXX than with the Masoretic text (although the majority of these variations are extremely minor, e.g. grammatical changes, spelling differences or missing words, and do not affect the meaning of sentences and paragraphs).[2][19][20] This confirms the scholarly consensus that the LXX represents a separate Hebrew-text tradition from that which was later standardized as the Masoretic text.[2][21]

Use of the Septuagint

Jewish use

In the 3rd century BCE, most Jewish communities were located in the Hellenistic world where Greek was the lingua franca. It is believed that the LXX was produced because many Jews outside of Judea needed a Greek version of the scripture for use during synagogue readings[22][23] or for religious study.[24] Some theorise that Hellenistic Jews intended the septuagint as a contribution to Hellenistic culture.[4] Alexandria held the greatest diaspora Jewish community of the age and was also a great center of Greek letters. Alexandria is thus likely the site of LXX authorship, a notion supported by the legend of Ptolemy and the 72 scholars.[25] The Septuagint enjoyed widespread use in the Hellenistic Jewish diaspora and even in Jerusalem, which had become a rather cosmopolitan (and therefore Greek-speaking) town. Both Philo and Josephus show a reliance on the Septuagint in their citations of Jewish scripture.

Starting approximately in the 2nd century AD (see also Council of Jamnia), several factors led most Jews to abandon use of the LXX. The earliest gentile Christians of necessity used the LXX, as it was at the time the only Greek version of the bible, and most, if not all, of these early non-Jewish Christians could not read Hebrew. The association of the LXX with a rival religion may have rendered it suspect in the eyes of the newer generation of Jews and Jewish scholars.[5] Perhaps more importantly, the Greek language—and therefore the Greek Bible—declined among Jews after most of them fled from the Greek-speaking eastern Roman Empire into the Aramaic-speaking Persian Empire when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Instead, Jews used Hebrew/Aramaic Targum manuscripts later compiled by the Masoretes; and authoritative Aramaic translations, such as those of Onkelos and Rabbi Yonathan ben Uziel.[26]

What was perhaps most significant for the LXX, as distinct from other Greek versions, was that the LXX began to lose Jewish sanction after differences between it and contemporary Hebrew scriptures were discovered. Even Greek-speaking Jews — such as those remaining in Palestine — tended less to the LXX, preferring other Jewish versions in Greek, such as that of Aquila, which seemed to be more concordant with contemporary Hebrew texts.[5] While Jews have not used the LXX in worship or religious study since the second century AD, recent scholarship has brought renewed interest in it in Judaic Studies.

Christian use

The Early Christian Church used the Greek texts since Greek was a lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time, and the language of the Greco-Roman Church (Aramaic was the language of Syriac Christianity, which used the Targums). In addition the Church Fathers tended to accept Philo's account of the LXX's miraculous and inspired origin. Furthermore, the New Testament writers, when citing the Jewish scriptures or when quoting Jesus doing so, freely used the Greek translation, implying that Jesus, his Apostles and their followers considered it reliable.[27]

When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew texts that were then available. He came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint.[28] He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his contemporary; a flood of still less moderate criticism came from those who regarded Jerome as a forger. But with the passage of time, acceptance of Jerome's version gradually increased until it displaced the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint.[5]

The Hebrew text diverges in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ[29] and the Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages. The Eastern Orthodox also use LXX untranslated where Greek is the liturgical language, e.g. in the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, the Church of Greece and the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Many modern critical translations of the Old Testament, while using the Masoretic text as their basis, consult the Septuagint as well as other versions in an attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, undeniably corrupt, or ambiguous.[5]


The Septuagint includes some books not found in the Hebrew Bible. Many Protestant Bibles follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional books. Roman Catholics, however, include some of these books in their canon while Eastern Orthodox Churches use all the books of the Septuagint (except the Psalms of Solomon[30]). Anglican lectionaries also use all of the books except Psalm 151, and the full Authorized (King James) Version includes these additional books in a separate section labelled the "Apocrypha".

Language of the Septuagint

Some sections of the Septuagint may show Semiticisms, or idioms and phrases based on Semitic languages like Hebrew and Aramaic.[27] Other books, such as LXX Daniel and Proverbs, show Greek influence more strongly.[4] The book of Daniel that is found in almost all Greek bibles, however, is not from the LXX, but rather from Theodotion's translation, which more closely resembles the Masoretic Daniel.[4]

The LXX is also useful for elucidating pre-Masoretic Hebrew: many proper nouns are spelled out with Greek vowels in the LXX, while contemporary Hebrew texts lacked vowel pointing.[31] One must, however, evaluate such evidence with caution since it is extremely unlikely that all ancient Hebrew sounds had precise Greek equivalents.[32]

Books of the Septuagint

All the books of western canons of the Old Testament are found in the Septuagint, although the order does not always coincide with the Western ordering of the books. The Septuagint order for the Old Testament is evident in the earliest Christian Bibles (5th century).[4]

Some books that are set apart in the Masoretic text are grouped together. For example the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are in the LXX one book in four parts called Βασιλειῶν ("Of Reigns"); scholars believe that this is the original arrangement before the book was divided for readability. In LXX, the Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns and it is called Paraleipoménon (Παραλειπομένων—things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve.[4]

Some scripture of ancient origin are found in the Septuagint but are not present in the Hebrew.

The New Testament makes a number of allusions to and may quote the additional books. The books are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus Sirach, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremy (which later became chapter 6 of Baruch in the Vulgate), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Sosanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, including the Prayer of Manasses, and Psalm 151. The canonical acceptance of these books varies among different Christian traditions, and there are canonical books not derived from the Septuagint; for a discussion see the article on Biblical apocrypha.

Extracts from Theodotion

In most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version, but instead is a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew[33]. The Septuagint version of the Book of Daniel was discarded, in favour of Theodotion's version, in the second to third centuries; in Greek-speaking areas, this happened near the end of the second century, and in Latin-speaking areas (at least in North Africa), it occurred in the middle of the third century[33]. History does not record the reason for this, and Jerome basically reports, in the preface to the Vulgate version of Daniel, this thing 'just' happened[33].

The canonical Ezra-Nehemiah is known in the Septuagint as "Esdras B", and 1 Esdras is "Esdras A". 1 Esdras is a very similar text to the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, and the two are widely thought by scholars to be derived from the same original text. It has been proposed, and is thought highly likely by scholars, that "Esdras B" - the canonical Ezra-Nehemiah - is Theodotion's version of this material, and "Esdras A" is the version which was previously in the Septuagint on its own[33].

Printed editions

• The editio princeps is the Complutensian Polyglot. It was based on manuscripts that are now lost, but seems to transmit quite early readings.[34]
• The Aldine edition (begun by Aldus Manutius) appeared at Venice in 1518. The text is closer to Codex Vaticanus than the Complutensian. The editor says he collated ancient manuscripts but does not specify them. It has been reprinted several times.
• The most important edition is the Roman or Sixtine, which reproduces the Codex Vaticanus" almost exclusively. It was published under the direction of Cardinal Caraffa, with the help of various savants, in 1586, by the authority of Sixtus V, to assist the revisers who were preparing the Latin Vulgate edition ordered by the Council of Trent. It has become the textus receptus of the Greek Old Testament and has had many new editions, such as that of Robert Holmes and James Parsons (Oxford, 1798-1827), the seven editions of Constantin von Tischendorf, which appeared at Leipzig between 1850 and 1887, the last two, published after the death of the author and revised by Nestle, the four editions of Henry Barclay Swete (Cambridge, 1887-95, 1901, 1909), etc.
• Grabe's edition was published at Oxford, from 1707 to 1720, and reproduced, but imperfectly, the "Codex Alexandrinus" of London. For partial editions, see Fulcran Vigouroux, Dictionnaire de la Bible, 1643 sqq.
• Alfred Rahlfs, a longtime Septuagint researcher at Göttingen, began a manual edition of the Septuagint in 1917 or 1918. The completed Septuaginta was published in 1935. It relies mainly on Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus, and presents a critical apparatus with variants from these and several other sources.[35]
• The Göttingen Septuagint (Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum) is a major critical version, comprising multiple volumes published from 1931 to 2006 and not yet complete. Its two critical apparatuses present variant Septuagint readings and variants from other Greek versions.[36]
• In 2006, a revision of Alfred Rahlfs's Septuaginta was published by the German Bible Society. This editio altera includes over a thousand changes to the text and apparatus.[37]
• The Apostolic Bible Polyglot contains a Septuagint text derived mainly from the agreement of any two of the Complutensian Polyglot, the Sixtine, and the Aldine texts.[38]

English Translations of the Septuagint

The Septuagint has been translated a few times into English, the first one (though excluding the Apocrypha) being that of Charles Thomson in 1808; his translation was later revised and enlarged by C. A. Muses in 1954. The translation of Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, published in 1851, is a long-time standard. For most of the time since its publication it has been the only one readily available, and has continually been in print. It is based primarily upon the Codex Vaticanus and contains the Greek and English texts in parallel columns. There also is a revision of the Brenton Septuagint available through Stauros Ministries, called The Apostles' Bible, released in January 2008. [2]

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) has produced A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under that Title (NETS), an academic translation based on standard critical editions of the Greek texts. It was published by Oxford University Press in October 2007.

The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, published in 2007, includes the Greek books of the Hebrew canon along with the Greek New Testament, all numerically coded to the AB-Strong numbering system, and set in monotonic orthography. Included in the printed edition is a concordance and index.

The Orthodox Study Bible was released in early 2008 with a new translation of the Septuagint based on the New King James Version. It also includes extensive commentary from an Eastern Orthodox perspective.[39]

The Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible (EOB) is an extensive revision and correction of Brenton’s translation which was primarily based on Codex Vaticanus. Its language and syntax has been modernized and simplified. It also includes extensive introductory material and footnotes featuring significant inter-LXX and LXX/MT variants.

International Septuagint Day

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS), a nonprofit, learned society formed to promote international research in and study of the Septuagint and related texts,[40] has established February 8 annually as International Septuagint Day, a day to promote the discipline on campuses and in communities.

Defining Septuagint

Although the integrity of the Septuagint as a text distinct from the Masoretic text is supported by Dead Sea scroll evidence, the LXX does show signs of age in that textual variants are attested. There is at least one highly unreliable nearly complete text of the LXX, Codex Alexandrinus. Nearly complete texts of the Septuagint are also found in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and Codex Sinaiticus, which do not perfectly coincide. But the LXX is a particularly excellent text when compared to other ancient works with textual variants. It has been argued that it is unjustified to reject the existence of a Septuagint merely on the basis of variation due to editorial recension and typographical error.[41][42]

The title "Septuagint" should not to be confused with the seven or more other Greek versions of the Old Testament, most of which do not survive except as fragments. These other Greek versions were once in side-by-side columns of Origen's Hexapla, now almost wholly lost. Of these the most important are "the three:" those by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, which are identified by particular Semiticisms and placement of Hebrew and Aramaic characters within their Greek texts.

One of two Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel has been recently rediscovered and work is ongoing in reconstructing the original form of the Septuagint as a whole.[4]


1. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, for instance.
2. Karen Jobes and Moises Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint ISBN 1-84227-061-3, (Paternoster Press, 2001). - The current standard for Introductory works on the Septuagint.
3. Life after death: a history of the afterlife in the religions of the West, Alan F. Segal, p.363
4. ennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint, Michael A. Knibb, Ed., London: T&T Clark, 2004
5. Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, trans. Errol F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995.
6. Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, 12.2.11-15; Whiston, William; The Complete Works of Josephus; Hendrickson Publishers, (Nashville, Tennessee, 1987); ISBN 0-913573-86-8
7. Tractate Megillah 9
8. Joel Kalvesmaki, The Septuagint
9. Sir Godfrey Driver, Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible (1970)
10. Rick Grant Jones, Various Religious Topics, "Books of the Septuagint," (Accessed 2006.9.5).
11. See Books of the Bible
12. The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, chapter by Sundberg, page 72, adds further detail: "However, it was not until the time of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) that the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures came to be called by the Latin term septuaginta. [70 rather than 72] In his City of God 18.42, while repeating the story of Aristeas with typical embellishments, Augustine adds the remark, "It is their translation that it has now become traditional to call the Septuagint" ...[Latin omitted]... Augustine thus indicates that this name for the Greek translation of the scriptures was a recent development. But he offers no clue as to which of the possible antecedents led to this development: Exod 24:1-8, Josephus [Antiquities 12.57, 12.86], or an elision. ...this name Septuagint appears to have been a fourth to fifth-century development."
13. Translation of Torah into other languages was forbidden by Halakha
14. Compare Dines, who is certain only of Symmachus being a truly new version, with Würthwein, who considers only Theodotion to be a revision, and even then possibly of an earlier non-LXX version.
15. Jerome, From Jerome, Letter LXXI (404 AD), NPNF1-01. The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin, with a Sketch of his Life and Work, Phillip Schaff, Ed.
16. Due to the practice of burying Torah scrolls invalidated for use by age, commonly after 300-400 years
17. See, Jinbachian, Some Semantically Significant Differences Between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, [1].
18. Jones, Table: Dead Sea Scrolls-Septuagint Alignments Against the Masoretic Text.
19. a b Timothy McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research ISBN 0-8028-6091-5. — The current standard introduction on the NT & LXX.
20. V.S. Herrell, The History of the Bible, "Qumran: Dead Sea Scrolls."
21. William Priestly, "The Dead Sea Scrolls." — A detailed explanation with scholarly apparatus.
22. L.L. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian. I. Persian and Greek Periods. II. Roman Period, London: SCM Press, 1994.
23. Joachim Schaper, Eschatology in the Greek Psalter, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995.
24. H. Orlinsky, "The Septuagint and its Hebrew Text," in The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. II, The Hellenistic Age, W. Davies and L. Finkelstein, Eds., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
25. There is some debate, however, regarding the location of the translations of the non-Pentateuch books. See Dines. One theory, that even the Pentateuch reflects variant "local" forms, is criticized in Emmanuel Tov, The Text Critical Use of The Septuagint in Biblical Research, 2nd ed., Jerusalem: Simor, 1997.
26. Greek-speaking Judaism (see also Hellenistic Judaism), survived, however, on a smaller scale into the medieval period. Cf. Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Bible, Leiden: Brill, 2000.
27. H. B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, revised by R.R. Ottley, 1914; reprint, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1989.
28. Jerome; Translated by Kevin P. Edgecomb (2007-09-06). "Beginning of the Prologue of Saint Jerome the Presbyter on the Pentateuch". Retrieved 2009-02-04.
29. name=
31. Hoffman, Book Review,, 2004.
32. Paul Joüon, SJ, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, trans. and revised by T. Muraoka, vol. I, Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2000.
33. This article incorporates text from the 1903 Encyclopaedia Biblica article "TEXT AND VERSIONS", a publication now in the public domain.
34. Joseph Ziegler, "Der griechische Dodekepropheton-Text der Complutenser Polyglotte," Biblica 25:297-310, cited in Würthwein.
35. Rahlfs, A. (Ed.). (1935/1979). Septuaginta. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
36. IOSCS: Critical Editions of Septuagint/Old Greek Texts
37. German Bible Society
38. Introduction to the Apostolic Bible
39. About the Orthodox Study Bible
41. Priestly
42. "A New Look at the Septuagint"
43. The canon of the original Old Greek LXX is disputed. This table reflects the canon of the Old Testament as used currently in Orthodoxy.
44. Βασιλειῶν (Basileiōn) is the genitive plural of Βασιλεῖα (Basileia).
45. That is, Things set aside from Ἔσδρας Αʹ.
46. also called Τωβείτ or Τωβίθ in some sources.
47. Not in Orthodox Canon, but originally included in the LXX.
48. Obdiou is genitive from "The vision of Obdias," which opens the book.
49. Originally placed after 3 Maccabees and before Psalms, but placed in an appendix of the Orthodox Canon

Other references

Kantor, Mattis, The Jewish time line encyclopedia: A yearby-year history from Creation to the present, Jason Aronson Inc., London, 1992
Site Admin
Posts: 17163
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Religion and Cults

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest