At the end of the second century, there were (at least) four competing Greek versions of the OT. Origen, one of the most important theologians in the Eastern church, was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and was active in the middle of the third century CE. Aware of differences between the Greek and Hebrew texts, he set out to bring order and understanding to the confusing array of competing textual witnesses and to produce an edition that would account for those variations.
The earliest MS evidence available for the OT text is also the most recently discovered. Since 1947 thousands of fragments of MSS, both biblical and nonbiblical, have come to light in the Dead Sea region.
The Masoretes were groups of Jewish scribe-scholars who worked between the 6th and 10th centuries CE, based primarily in early medieval Palestine in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, as well as in Iraq.
The Masoretic Text[a] (MT or 𝕸) is the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the 24 books of Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism.
It was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries of the Common Era (CE). It is the text behind all of our Bible translations.
Respecting the text of the Hebrew Scriptures, scholar W. H. Green observed: “It may be safely said that no other work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted.” (Archaeology and Bible History, by J. P. Free, 1964, p. 5) This statement is even more true today.
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures were from about the ninth and tenth centuries C.E. Could these manuscripts truly be relied upon as faithful transmissions of God’s Word, since the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures was completed well over one thousand years earlier?
“SEARCH thoroughly in the [Scriptures] and do not rely on my opinion.” Those were the words from the eighth century C.E. by a leading Karaite. Just who were the Karaites? What can we possibly learn from the example they had set?