Papyrus Rylands 458 is a copy of the Pentateuch in a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint.
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?
We have to face the reality that while the original 39 OT manuscripts and 27 NT manuscripts were inspired by God [Lit. "God-breathed"] (1 Tim. 3:16), as the authors were moved along by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:21), this was not the case with the copyists thereafter. Yes, hundreds of thousands of scribal errors crept into our manuscripts. Yet, there is solid evidence that the Bible,
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.”
Some Bible critics seem, to begin with, the belief that if the originals were inspired by God and fully inerrant, the subsequent copies must continue to be inerrant in order for the inerrancy of the originals to have value. They seem to be asking, “If only the originals were inspired, and the copies were not inspired, and we do not have the originals, how are we to be certain of any passage in Scripture?” In other words, God would never allow the inspired, inerrant Word to suffer copying errors. Why would he perform the miracle of inspiring the message to be fully inerrant and not continue with the miracle of inspiring the copyists throughout the centuries to keep it inerrant?