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Major Critical Texts and Manuscript Abbreviations of the Old Testament
AC: Aleppo Codex
AT: Aramaic Targum(s), paraphrases
ATJ Jerusalem Targum I (Pseudo-Jonathan) and Jerusalem Targum II (Fragmentary Targum).
ATO Targum of Onkelos (Babylonian Targum), Pentateuch.
ATP Palestinian Targum, Vatican City, Rome, Pentateuch.
B.C.E.: Before Common Era
BHS: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Edited by Karl Elliger and Wilhelm Rudolph. Stuttgart, 1984.
BHQ: Biblia Hebraica Quinta with Apparatus. Edited by David Marcus; Jan de Waard; P. B. Dirksen; Natalio Fernández Marcos, Anthony Gelston, Yohanan A.P Goldman, Carmel McCarthy, Rolf Schäfer, Magne Sæbø, Adrian Schenker, Abraham Tal. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft , 2004–2015
B 19A: Codex Leningrad
CC: Cairo Codex, Heb., 895 C.E., Cairo, Egypt,
c.: Circa, about, approximately
DSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible; The Lexham Dead Sea Scrolls Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible
IT: Old Latin Versions, Itala, second to the fourth century C.E.
LXX: The Greek Septuagint (Greek Jewish OT Scriptures in general and specifically used during of Jesus and the apostles)
LXXP. Fouad Inv. 266 This papyrus fragment was discovered in Egypt, dating to the first-century B.C.E.
LXXא Codex Sinaiticus, Gr., c. 330–360 C.E.,
LXXA Codex Alexandrinus, Gr., c. 400-440 C.E.
LXXB Codex Vaticanus 1209, Gr., c. 300–325 C.E.
LXXL The Lexham English Septuagint, Second Edition
LXXN A New English Translation of the Septuagint, NETS
LXXBr Septuagint (with an English translation by Sir Lancelot Brenton, 1851)
OG: Original Greek (Oldest recoverable form of the Greek OT (280-150 B.C.E.)
SOPHERIM: Copyists of the Hebrew OT text from the time of Era to the time of Jesus.
CT: Consonantal Text is the OT Hebrew manuscripts that became fixed in form between the first and second centuries C.E., even though manuscripts with variant readings continued to circulate for some time. Alterations of the previous period by the Sopherim were no longer made. Very similar to the MT.
MT: The Masoretic Text encompasses the Hebrew OT manuscripts from the second half of the first millennium C.E. (500-1000 C.E.)
MTcorrection by a correction of the Masoretic Text
MTmargin The Masoretic Text marginal notes
SP: Samaritan Pentateuch
SYM: Greek translation of H.S., by Symmachus, c. 200 C.E.
SYRHexapla is the Syrian Aramaic (Syriac) translation of the Greek Septuagint as found in the fifth column of Origen’s Hexapla.
SYR: Syriac Peshitta
TH: Greek translation of Hebrew Scriptures by Theodotion, second cent. C.E.
VG: Latin Vulgate by Jerome, c. 400 C.E.
VGc Latin Vulgate, Clementine recension (S. Bagster & Sons, London, 1977).
VGs Latin Vulgate, Sixtine recension, 1590.
1 Samuel 1:24 English Standard Version (ESV)
24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. (NASB, LEB, CSB similar)
1 Samuel 1:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a jar of wine, and she brought him to the house of Jehovah at Shiloh. And the boy was a boy.
 DSS LXX SYR “a three-year-old bull” MT VG “three bulls”
 About 22 L (20 dry qt).
MT “and the boy was a boy” LXX “and the boy was with them” VG “the boy was yet an infant” The MT is correct, which is conveying the meaning that the boy was incredibly young when this event occurred. However, some look to the textual differences, emending the text to align with the LXX “and the boy was with them” or imposing a conjectural emendation “and the boy was with her.” The VG is interpreting the Hebrew that the boy was incredibly young, “the boy was yet an infant.” We retain the literal MT reading.
The primary weight of external evidence generally goes to the original language manuscripts. The Codex Leningrad B 19A and the Aleppo Codex are almost always preferred. In Old Testament Textual Criticism, the Masoretic text is our starting point and should only be abandoned as a last resort. While it is true that the Masoretic Text is not perfect, there needs to be a heavy burden of proof if we are to go with an alternative source (e.g., LXX, AT, SYR, VG) for our reading. All the evidence needs to be examined before we conclude that a reading in the Masoretic Text is a corruption. The Septuagint continues to be very much important today and is used by textual scholars to help uncover copyists’ errors that might have crept into the Hebrew manuscripts either intentionally or unintentionally. However, it cannot do it alone without the support of other sources. While the Septuagint is the second most important tool after the original language texts for ascertaining the original words of the original Hebrew text, it is also true that the LXX translators took liberties at times, embellishing the text, deliberate changes, harmonizations, and completing of details. It should be noted that there is no one manuscript pers se. For example, there is the Septuagint manuscript of Aquila (Codex X), Symmachus (also Codex X), and Theodotion to mention just a few. There are a few times when you might have the Syriac, Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll, and the Vulgate that are at odds with the Masoretic Text, and the preferred choice should not be the MT.
The group of manuscripts known as the Masoretic Text developed over an extended period of time, beginning in the second century AD (Ashby, Go Out and Meet God, 5). It received its final form in the 10th century AD under Aaron Ben-Asher of the Tiberian Masoretes (Tov, Textual Criticism, 24.) It is currently best represented in the Leningrad Codex, which is the base text for the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) and the ongoing work of the Biblia Hebraica Quinta.
The term “Masora” itself can mean either “to bind,” referring to a protection for the scriptures, or “to hand down,” referring to traditions (Scott, A Simplified Guide to BHS, 8). Either definition communicates that the intention of the Masoretic Text was to prevent the corruption of the text.
From around AD 500–1000, a group of scribes known as the Masoretes held the responsibility of textual transmission for the Jewish people. Their primary task was to fix a final form to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament that was faithful to the text that they had received. The final product became known as the Masoretic Text (Harrison, Introduction, 212).
The Masoretic Text appears to have developed from a consonantal text (meaning that the words consisted of only consonants) that was likely fixed around the second-century ad. The Masoretic system of accents and notations was likely established in the ninth and 10th centuries AD as the result of centuries of close and careful development and practice. Today, the term Masoretic Text usually refers to the text represented in the BHS, which is based on the Leningrad Codex.