Samaritan Pentateuch, Important Witness to the Early Textual History of the First Part of the Hebrew Bible

After the deportation of inhabitants of Samaria and the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel by Assyria in the middle of the 8th century B.C.E., pagans from other territories of the Assyrian Empire were settled there by Assyria. (2 Ki. 17:22-33) In time they came to be called “Samaritans.” They accepted the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures and in about the fourth century B.C.E. they produced the Samaritan Pentateuch, not really a translation of the original Hebrew Pentateuch, but a transliteration of its text into Samaritan characters, mixed with Samaritan idioms. Few of the extant manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch are older than the thirteenth century C.E. Of about 6,000 differences between the Samaritan and the Hebrew texts, by far the majority are unimportant. One variation of interest appears in Exodus 12:40, where the Samaritan Pentateuch corresponds to the Septuagint.

Syriac Versions of the Bible

The Old Testament.—There are two Syriac translations of this part of the Bible, one made directly from the original language Hebrew, and the other from an ancient Greek version. The Syriac New-Testament Versions.—These we may conveniently enumerate under five heads, including several recensions under some of them, but treating separately the notable “Curetonian text.”

The Hebrew Old Testament Texts and Versions

Texts and versions provide the raw materials for the discipline known as textual criticism. The ultimate aim is to provide a text in the form intended by its author. Generally speaking, the greater the age of a document, the greater is its authority.

Bible Texts and Versions

We must 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 ...

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