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.
“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?
“FROM Moses to Moses, there was no one like Moses.” Many Jews will recognize this cryptic saying as an expression of admiration for the 12th-century Jewish philosopher, codifier, and commentator on the Talmud and the Scriptures, Moses Ben Maimon—also known as Maimonides and as Rambam.
Benjamin Kennicott (4 April 1718 – 18 September 1783) was an English churchman and Hebrew scholar. Kennicott was born at Totnes, Devon. He succeeded his father as master of a charity school, but the generosity of some friends enabled him to go to Wadham College, Oxford, in 1744, and he distinguished himself in Hebrew and divinity. While an undergraduate he published two dissertations, On the Tree... Continue Reading →
The first rabbinic Bible—i.e., the Hebrew text furnished with full vowel points and accents, accompanied by the Aramaic Targums and the major medieval Jewish commentaries—was edited by Felix Pratensis and published by Daniel Bomberg (Venice, 1516/17). The second edition, edited by Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah and issued by Bomberg in four volumes (Venice, 1524/25), became the prototype of future Hebrew Bibles down to the 20th century.
Who were the Masoretes, and what valuable comments have they made on the Hebrew text? What do we know about the Masoretes? What did their work involve? What did the Masoretes do regarding the Hebrew text? What is the Masoretic text, and how do we know that it is reliable? How dependable, how accurate is this Masoretic text? Can we find a “pure” Masoretic text? Why did the Masoretes take such extreme care not to alter the text when previous copyists had altered it? Was their form of Jewish belief different from that of their predecessors?