[sword-devel] clean bible or bad phantasy?

Daniel Russell sword-devel@crosswire.org
Tue, 03 Dec 2002 11:28:09 -0800

I failed to mention that the Hebrews did in fact occassionally separate 
words with a point or stroke, like the Phonecians and Moabites (whose 
languages' alphabets were almost identical to old Hebrew). These points 
must not have been regularly used in the original text however, since 
the Septuagint often makes word-divisions different from those of the 
Masoretic text. Jewish tradition mentions several passages in which the 
separation of words was regarded as doubtful.

As i understand it, the situation looks like this:

                       original and old copies from the original
                                         /            \
                          Masoretic Text      Septuigant

Most Old Testament translations come from the Masoretic Text since we 
have had those Masoretic Text as our best Hebrew texts the longest time, 
while New Testatment quotations of the Old Testament come from the 
Septuigant (which the New Testament writers used as their Bibles). There 
are quite a few disagreements. We can not be sure of how often word 
divisions were indicated in the original original text. The Masoretic 
Text refers to several "old" codices such as the Leningrad Codex 
(published as 'Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia' and the Aleppo Codex).

Unfortunately, the oldest Manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date back 
only to around the year 900 A.D.. Most are from 1100 A.D. or later, and 
no complete Text is earlier than that 1100 A.D.. If you are thinking of 
these codices when you think that the original text had word divisions, 
you must remember that these are not original, but only about 1000 years 
old. We don't have the original text (except perhaps for a few small 
fragments which we are not even certain are THE original). Some of the 
earliest comprehensive Hebrew texts we even have the Dead Sea scrolls, 
and those were not written until around the 3rd century BC to 68 A.D.