Masoretic Text - emendations of the sopherim

Tandi

New member
Hello Everyone,

There was a discussion on my facebook page about Ephesians 2:15 that led to this exchange, which evolved into a discussion of the Masoretic text. Hoping we can continue the discussion here on the new forum.......


Gerard Bouw: The italics in the KJV are not "optional," they are clarifications.

Banner Kidd: The italics were added by translators based on their spin. They don't always fit the context and many times lead you away from what is really being said.

Gerard Bouw: In other words, the revelation is lost and you (not necessarily meant as the singular) are in a position to restore the true revelation. If the KJV is not the inerrant word of God, no one has it. Every modern version admits that it is not the inerrant, preserved word of God consisting of the very words of God; only the KJV admits that. We have roughly 25 Original Greek texts for the N.T., and four or five Original Hebrew texts including two Masoretic versions, one with and one without the emendations of the Soperim. So where is the word of God that consists of the words of God?

Peter Sander: For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Peter Sander: I wanted to wait to add more, but four or five "original Masoretic texts (MT)?" Where did you get that? There are two families of MT--both of which have the emendations of the sopherim (which the KJV slavishly follows). And, the MT is not an "original" autograph or text itself, it is an attempt to restore the text in favor of Rabbinic doctrine and perspectives on textual integrity. Prior to the MT we have evidenced four or five families of Hebrew mss including the DSS, the proto-MT, and the LXX. As far as having four or five "original hebrew" texts...where are these? I have never heard of such nonsense regarding the MT.

Peter Sander: Paul's official indictment about King James Onlyism: "[they] worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator..."

Banner Kidd: Gerard, it is simply that we can't ever trust a man's interpretation. The Scriptures are the best in interpretation and bears witness to its own context. The additions of man lead us away from context in most cases.

Maureen LaFaive: Thank you all for your contributions to this discussion. I have facebook friends from a variety of perspectives so I hope we can all share with respect for one another. When the KJV and its defenders are attacked (called foolishness, etc.) it just makes me appreciate the KJV and its defenders even more. This Bible has served me well for 27 years and I know the Spirit of the LORD meets me in its pages each day. I am willing to hear the KJV defense by able defenders, are you? If so, join me at a new forum about to launch. Dr. Bouw, your participation is especially welcome by the forum owner (will send you private message). I hope to show that the KJV/TR can be reconciled with Torah as relevant for today. There will also be a Messianic corner at the new forum. We are working out the details of participation so that all can share their perspectives freely without strife or bannings. Iron sharpeneth iron!


Gerard Bouw: I didn't say four or five MTs (I see you read Scripture about as closely as you did my post). I said 2 MTs, one with the Soperim emendations and one without. I said 4 or 5 "Original Hebrew texts": the pre-Masoretic, the Sopherim MT, Kittel's, and the Ben Hachim MT, not to mention revised editions thereof. Each of these claims to be the original or a restoration of the original.

The original LXX was confined to the Pentateuch and existed only in the Alexandrian Library, if the Letter of Aristeas can be believed (it may have been a fable concocted by Philo). Origen took advantage of the Letter to forge an LXX in his own image. There was no LXX prior to AD 140 (when Aquila created his), then 2 more were created between 160 and 220 (Symmachus [after 160] and Theodotion [after 170]). Origen wrote his forgery after 220. Did you welch on your homework too, Peter, when you were in school? It seems so if your only response is a canned one with name calling.

Peter Sander: This listing given of "original Hebrew texts" is a conflation of textual families. note: all MT have the emendations of the sopherim. There are two MT families which are the Ben Hachim (a Karaite) and the Aleppo. There are Temmani variations as well. The Aleppo was esteemed by Rambam as the superior MT, but the text in vogue among Jews and Christians is the Ben Hachim. Kittel's critical text (or any other critical text for that matter, e.g., BHS) works from all of the available and documents variants, etc. Critical texts are not "originals" any more than any of the MT groupings are originals.

I will not dignify the LXX denial campaign by addressing the canned statements you make about LXX denial. Um, maybe there wasn't an historical Philo or an historical Jerusalem either.

Gerard Bouw: Good, you've done some homework. The KJV does not have the emendations of the Sopherim, and there are good reasons for each case. For instance, the Sopherim suspended the nun in Jg. 18:30 because it was in the original but they thought it should not be there since Moses had a son, Gershom, and they deemed it impossible that Manasseh could have a descendent named Gershom, too. The final conclusion, which you tacitly admitted, is that we do not have the original texts. I agree with that. So where can I find the living, preserved words of God in one book so that God can righteously judge men by his word?

And there you go with an unlearned dismissal of the LXX fraud. Those are Marxist, liberal tactics: "maybe there wasn't an historical Philo or an historical Jerusalem either." Those are the tactics that are destroying the USA this very moment, before our very eyes. If you're unprepared to meet an argument, brush the proponent of the argument with the label of ignoramus--right?

Gerard Bouw: The party line on the LXX are the canned statements. (Sorry, ran out of space in the previous post.)

Peter Sander: Dr. Bouw, the KJV reflects the emendations faithfully even in cases where the emendations work against christological readings of the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, Psalm 110:5 has "adonai" as a result of the emendations (note, the DSS has YHWH). The YHWH reading bolsters an argument for the deity of Jesus where the sopherim-edited reading lends more toward the rabbinic party line.

In the case of Judges 18:30, yes the nun is suspended--a fact not reflected in English translations. But, the reading is still Manasseh despite the incredulity of the scribes. Hence, though the scribal note is made and faithfully preserved, it is not reflected in English translations.

Peter Sander: In synagogue, after the reading of the Torah, the scroll is elevated as the congregation states, "W'zot ha torah ashwer sam moshe l'phney bnei yisrael al pi adonai b'yad moshe" (This is the Torah that Moses placed before the Children of Israel, upon the command of the LORD, through Moses' hand."

Now, Jews recognize that scribal additions, corrections, and oversights (dating all the way back to the inspired work of Ezra the priest and scribe) are to be found in the text of the Pentateuch, but they also maintain that the text is divinely inspired *as it is.* I think it is essential to recognize that in the gault (dispersion) that it is impossible to expect the divine investment of God in Scripture to not undergo the process of humanity. To deny the cultural impact on the Bible both in composition (genre, individual style), in transmission, and in translation is essentially to deny the human component. It is another form of docetism--like denying the humanity of enfleshed Word.

Maureen LaFaive: Quote: So where can I find the living, preserved words of God in one book so that God can righteously judge men by his word?

This is a very profound question, Dr. Bouw. Thank you for making this point. How can God judge us, if we do not have the Word of God? If it is "forever settled in Heaven" but not available on Earth, what good does that do us today? The Ethiopian eunuch had Scripture to read. Timothy's mother had Scripture. Surely, God has preserved it to all generations. As someone, I think maybe Sam Gipp? remarked, "If the KJV is not inspired, it will do until something better comes along." At this point I am not sure if the text has been purified six or seven times but it is pure enough for me to trust.

Peter Sander: Why does there have to be a book free of textual challenges in order for God to judge mankind? Does not even Paul assert that the nations are judged by the law written on their hearts (Romans 2)? I think this is an artificially constructed dilemma that leads people into enshrining a book into something it was never ever ever meant to be.

Maureen LaFaive: The heart is deceitful......how is God going to judge us based on the law written on our hearts? there must be a righteous standard that we have easy access to.

Maureen LaFaive: It's not a matter of enshrining a book any more than the Torah scroll. It is a matter of recognizing the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, and fearing God enough to let the Scriptures judge us rather than us judging the Scriptures.


.........continued in next post.........
 
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Tandi

New member
Masoretic Text Dialogue (Continued)

Peter Sander: When the logos became enfleshed in Jesus, did the logos cease to be present with God in the heavens? did Jesus exhaust the logos, or was he just as a sponge in a sea of logos incorporating both elements of humanity and divinity? if Jesus was not the exhaustive logos/word, then now can the Bible be any more the exhaustive logos/word of God? to think that it is is to limit God the infinite into a finite that borders on idolatry.

Maureen LaFaive: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim. 3:16-17........verses that are precious to me...yet weakened and watered down in the modern versions. There is nothing idolatrous about trusting the Scriptures, but there is something borderline idolatrous about trusting in men that place themselves above the Scriptures and above the "laity." God hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. And your "sponge jesus" is borderline blasphemy.

Peter Sander: The "sponge in logos" analogy, btw, is taken from the context of orthodoxy in the trinitarian debates of the 4th century. It was considered an orthodox analogy for the human-divine synthesis in Jesus. it is not blasphemy unless the the idea of "fully man/fully God" is itself blasphemous. Remember, God cannot dwell in a house made with hands, how then can a human exhaustively enflesh (iconize, using the greek term for "image") God?

Maureen LaFaive: I do not go along with orthodox trinitarianism, church creeds, etc. Someone recently said, "If God is small enough to understand, then he's not big enough to be worshipped." Yeshua is YHVH incarnate, as you once believed. We cannot fully fathom this, but it is true. Seems you used to defend my position against the Deity deniers, Peter. I'll have to go back and read some of your old posts, which were very insightful.

Gerard Bouw: Peter, a Jewish friend, a priest, a direct descendent of Aaron, has a different view about the Sopherim:

There are no changes that I know of. Even the Dead Sea scrolls as I recall had the same Hebrew text as now. The tradition is that the Masoretic Hebrew text is the same one as given on Mount Sinai. What you may be referring to is is the read portion versus the written portion. In the read portion the Masoretic text with vowels changes the written portion by putting the new word in for use, and uses the vowels for that new word even though it does not agree with the old word. But this is not done in the scroll itself but in a separate book where the vowels and periods, etc. are included. The Holy Scripture itself has no written vowels or punctuation as we do with commas, periods, etc., and these are interpretations. My checking of the King James Version was that they followed Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra who used the written part rather than the read part for the most part. At least that was in the case of the first five books that I reviewed a long time ago.
Peter Sander: Dr. Bouw: I possess facsimiles of the Hebrew Biblical mss present in the DSS. Yes, the text is substantively the same, but there are many textual variants and, in some cases, the texts of entire books are very different. For example, two fragments of DSS Jeremiah (4Q71 & 4Q72) both contain variations of Jeremiah agreeing with the LXX reading of Jeremiah-which is 1/8 (approx 2700 words) shorter than the MT edition of the same book. The MT text would not have been understandable to a literate Hebrew from before the 6th century as the ancient Hebrew text was written in paleo-Hebrew....and this leads us to the next step...

Peter Sander: the Ketiv-Qere (read/written as you define it) are attributed to the school and work of Ezra. Ezra, according to the Talmud, carried the paleo-Hebrew texts of Scripture over into the present Aramaic, block font. In the process the Scripture had to be interpreted, and variant readings were preserved in the form of the Ketiv-Qere. Notice, and this is huge, the MT vowel pointing is entirely man-made. In the overwhelming number of cases, the pointing makes sense of the text, but there are occasions where the vowel pointing may be mistaken. The KJV translators depended on post-resurrection masoretic rejectors of Jesus for their reading of the MT (through the vowel pointing, etc.). Why not, today, consider pre-pharisaic readings of the Bible by Jews who did not reject Jesus?

Peter Sander: ...though I respect your friend's input, he seems to be part of the general cloth of Jews that I knew when a member of an Orthodox Jewish community in Chicago---there is little concern or knowledge of critical studies of the Bible. Jews, remember, believe that that they hold a living tradition that dynamically anchors their religious observance and understandings. They don't need concepts such as sitz im lebem, etc. because it does not matter what Moses meant, it matters how the text can be exegeted through rabbinical and traditional hermeneutics.

Peter Sander: as a thought, it baffles me how textual criticism is written into the very MT on which the KJVO position depends. Is it nothing less than cognitive dissonance and the artificial construal of false absolutes that allow one to ignore this fact (among myriad other facts that show the KJV to be a fallible and biased human work). Consider also the theological partiality with which the KJV translators translate sheol along with the politically-driven translation of tzadakah/tzadik as "righteousness" instead of "justice" (due to the inherent political denotations of these English distinctives).

Maureen LaFaive: It will be very interesting to discuss these things at the new "Pure Bible Forum". Almost ready to send out the invitations.

Gerard Bouw: In my understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it is like finding the New World Translation in the archeological remains of Watchtower Press. It was a cult, not mainstream Judaism.

My Jewish source is not a Rabbi, he is a priest whose authority the Rabbis usurped after AD 70. He is an avowed anti-Zionist, too.

Here is what a Christian KJV Seminary Prof. has to say about the Soperim:

Ezra, a scribe or sopher, may have had impact on organizing the Hebrew text around the Tanak book order. Fellow scribes or sopherim did not change the original Hebrew text. It appears that the KJV followed the kethiv or written text of the Masoretes almost exclusively, but in a few places followed the qeri or spoken (marginal) reading. This becomes a matter of faith when we don't know the historical details on some points. I accept the Masoretic text as the preserved, inspired Hebrew words from which the KJV translated. It was not rejected until Kittel in 1928 rejected the Masoretic text.
Gerard Bouw: There you have it, a Jewish Priest who might even have been the high priest if the priesthood still existed, and a Christian seminary professor agree. I've known both men for years and know that they are careful researchers. That is why I defer to them in matters such as this. Both agree with the statement that the KJV is the word of God in English. (Note that I do not say "Word of God," that is the LORD JESUS, the Christ, not the Book. To capitalize word is to confound the second witness of the Godhead with the printed word, given by inspiration by the third witness of the Godhead.) The authorities who promote the DSS do not believe that God preserved his words; they endeavor to recover what, according to them, God didn't care enough about to preserve in the first place. I call that idiocy.

Peter Sander: 2nd Temple Judaism was characterized by diverse sects. Calling the DSS sect a "cult" though is more than a little anachronistic especially if such a claim is used to demonize the witness of the DSS collection. The DSS biblical and extra-biblical writings evidence the development of 2nd Temple messianic understandings including the earliest articulations of a suffering messiah in extra-biblical writings. We best appreciate their witness for what it is worth.

For the record, the rabbis did not usurp the legitimate priesthood as 1) the 2nd temple priesthood was no longer legitimate and 2) many priests were already aligned with the Pharisees and the proto-rabbinic movement even prior to 70 AD (not to mention the representation of priestly voices in the formative era of post-Temple rabbinic Judaism).

Peter Sander: If I must accept the MT as the preserved word of God in order to believe in the Bible, then nah, I will place my head in another dune.
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
emendations of the sopherim

Hi Folks,

Thanks for bringing the discussion over to the forum.
May it be continued with wisdom and grace.

My first simple question is on the emendations of the sopherim. I would like to know your base (Gerard and Peter) for the scholarship on this question. In my studies, the Ethelbert William
Bullinger position (as the popularizer using his understanding of Christian David Ginsburg's Masorah) has been disputed, both by Lawrence Schiffman from an orthodox Jewish position and Nehemiah Gordon from a karaite understanding. Both have extensive background in the Hebraics and they independently asserted that there were interpretative elements involved that were dubious, going back to Ginsburg. Thus the question, what is the basis of your understandings ?

Thanks.

Shalom,
Steven Avery
Queens, NY
 

Gerard Bouw

New member
I trust absolutely nothing that Ginsburg wrote, thought, or did...EVER! 'Nuff said? Bullenger is outstanding in his work on the sentence and thought structures in the Bible, but he does have an ego problem that sometimes blinds him to the dangers of the CT (Critical Text), and his threatment of the Sopherim reflects that. Most of my understanding of the Sopeherim is gleaned from various Internet sources. There are so many different emendation passages or groups of emendations that I distrust the whole thing. But it does go to show that whereas there was once agreement on what the O.T. and N.T. were, there is none now.

As far as that goes, theologically, it means that the words of God may no longer be found in any of those sources but may survive in another form and in another language. The most vehemently-attacked version is the KJV, so most likely it is the word of God.
 

Psander

New member
Hi Folks,

Thanks for bringing the discussion over to the forum.
May it be continued with wisdom and grace.

My first simple question is on the emendations of the sopherim. I would like to know your base (Gerard and Peter) for the scholarship on this question. In my studies, the Ethelbert William
Bullinger position (as the popularizer using his understanding of Christian David Ginsburg's Masorah) has been disputed, both by Lawrence Schiffman from an orthodox Jewish position and Nehemiah Gordon from a karaite understanding. Both have extensive background in the Hebraics and they independently asserted that there were interpretative elements involved that were dubious, going back to Ginsburg. Thus the question, what is the basis of your understandings ?

Thanks.

Shalom,
Steven Avery
Queens, NY
Hello Steven,

My data comes primarily from Ginsburg, and I have not read anything form Schiffman or Gordon on this matter. I did an extensive comparison of the various emendations, comparing the MT to the various DSS copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. I don't recall the exact percentage, but on the matter of the 134 emendations of the divine name into Adonai or Elohim, I found that some 60% or 70% of such emendations were not to be found in DSS manuscripts. I found this data very significant, especially in passages that carry clear christological connotations.

I am more than a little interested in reading what Schiffman has to say about this as I respect his scholarship. Gordon, well, I think he has an ax to grind in this matter, and I am not particularly impressed with his textual acumen. However, I still would be interested in reading what he has on this matter as well.

kol tuv,
Peter
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Lawrence Schiffman on emendations of the sopherim

Hi Folks,

My data comes primarily from Ginsburg.. on the matter of the 134 emendations of the divine name into Adonai or Elohim, I found that some 60% or 70% of such emendations were not to be found in DSS manuscripts. I found this data very significant, especially in passages that carry clear christological connotations... I am more than a little interested in reading what Schiffman has to say about this as I respect his scholarship. Gordon, well, I think he has an ax to grind in this matter,
Professor Lawrence Schiffman's notes that I have were passed through Moshe Shulman, especially note the Ken Burns page below.

[Messianic_Apologetic] The Emendations of the Sopherim - Sept 11, 2002
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Messianic_Apologetic/message/3069

[b-hebrew] emendations of the sopherim - is the Masoretic text an accurate Hebrew Bible
http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2002-September/013944.html


[b-hebrew] emendations of the sopherim - is the Masoretic text an accurate Hebrew Bible
http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2005-May/023341.html - May 2 my post to Peter Kirk
http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2005-May/023403.html - May 4

-----------------------------------------------

The Proper Name of the CREATOR
Part 10: The Companion Bible’s Appendix 32 by Ken Burns
http://godsway.org/Proper Name 10.htm

Second, you should know that at least some modern scholars do not accept Ginsburg’s assertion that the Sopherim replaced YHWH with Adonai in Hebrew manuscripts older than those known to Ginsburg in 1880. For example, Professor Lawrence Schiffman, Chair of the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, recently stated concerning Ginsburg’s 134-item list:

In vol.4 Ginzberg [sic] correctly translated the heading of the first list, for the Pentateuch, as "Lord occurs twelve times in the Pentateuch.[”] In other words, as he explains there, this is not a list of textual variants but rather a list of the times ad-onai is used when it is clearly an equivalent (in meaning) to the shem ha-meforash [i.e., YHWH, “Yahweh”]. We know in any case, that ad-onai was secondarily introduced in the Second Temple period often to indicate that the tetragrammaton [i.e., YHWH, "Yahweh"should be pronounced in this manner (not as written). This is not textual variation at all, . . . [Email message from Lawrence H. Schiffma]n to Moshe Shulman, quoted by Moshe Shulman on January 5, 1996, in a post to the alt.messianic Usenet newsgroup; spelling corrected]


==============================

As for Nehemiah Gordon, I respect his Hebrew understandings, he seems to have quite a strong background and did work with Emanuel Tov even to the point of having a scholarship byline on an article or book. It is in the NT that Nehemiah is totally unreliable and he played that card for purposes not relevant at the moment. His referencing about the emendations of the Sopherim was a short conversation we had in Jerusalem in 2002 and he basically said similar as Professor Schiffman.

And I may find a bit more directly interesting if I go through my notes and bookmarks, that would likely be tonight. A lot of the material on the web has no originality, and very little even addresses the basic scholarship issues.


Shalom,
Steven Avery
 
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