Samaritan Pentateuch, Important Witness to the Early Textual History of the First Part of the Hebrew Bible

After the deportation of inhabitants of Samaria and the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel by Assyria in the middle of the 8th century B.C.E., pagans from other territories of the Assyrian Empire were settled there by Assyria. (2 Ki. 17:22-33) In time they came to be called “Samaritans.” They accepted the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures and in about the fourth century B.C.E. they produced the Samaritan Pentateuch, not really a translation of the original Hebrew Pentateuch, but a transliteration of its text into Samaritan characters, mixed with Samaritan idioms. Few of the extant manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch are older than the thirteenth century C.E. Of about 6,000 differences between the Samaritan and the Hebrew texts, by far the majority are unimportant. One variation of interest appears in Exodus 12:40, where the Samaritan Pentateuch corresponds to the Septuagint.

Syriac Versions of the Bible

The Old Testament.—There are two Syriac translations of this part of the Bible, one made directly from the original language Hebrew, and the other from an ancient Greek version. The Syriac New-Testament Versions.—These we may conveniently enumerate under five heads, including several recensions under some of them, but treating separately the notable “Curetonian text.”

The Hebrew Old Testament Texts and Versions

Texts and versions provide the raw materials for the discipline known as textual criticism. The ultimate aim is to provide a text in the form intended by its author. Generally speaking, the greater the age of a document, the greater is its authority.

Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) AKA the Great Isaiah Scroll

Please Support the Bible Translation Work of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV)$5.00Click here to purchase. The Isaiah Scroll, designated 1QIsaa and also known as the Great Isaiah Scroll, is one of the seven Dead Sea Scrolls[1] that were first discovered by Bedouin[2] shepherds in 1946 from Qumran[3] Cave 1.[4] The scroll is written in Hebrew and contains the entire Book of Isaiah from beginning to end, apart... Continue Reading →

The Crown of All Hebrew Manuscripts: The Aleppo Codex

BEFORE the discovery of the cache of Hebrew scrolls in the Dead Sea caves in 1947, aside from a few fragments, our Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts were from the late 9th to the 11th century C.E. That is but a mere thousand years ago when the original thirty-nine Hebrew Old Testament Bible books date from 2,500 to 3,500 years ago. Does this mean that prior to 1947, textual scholars and translators were uncertain about the Hebrew Bible that lies behind our English Old Testament? No, there was the most important Hebrew manuscript, which is called the Keter, the “Crown,” that originally contained all the Hebrew Scriptures, or the “Old Testament.”

OLD TESTAMENT TEXTUAL STUDIES: The Aramaic Targums

The “Targums” were loose translations or paraphrases of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures into Aramaic. Although fragments of the early Targums of some books were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Jewish Targums as a whole likely found their current form no sooner than about the fifth century C.E.

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