Debtor (Ron)to Peter Kirk about Hebrew Text

shella shella at
Thu Nov 4 11:29:43 EST 1999

Dear Brother Peter, thank you dear brother for your review.  I appreciate your kind
words.  I understand your concern.  I appreciate your counsel about the greatly
uninformed.  I don't know if you are aware of the issues I am speaking about or not,
but I appreciate your wise rebuke and will try to observe it.

I agree that we should all try to keep up with the latest information we can
secure.  However, for some like myself, this is impossible.  I live on medical
disability, less than $500.00 per month.  The Old School Baptists, of which I am a
minister, do not pay their ministers, we do not preach for any salary.  So you see I
am like a Baptist "Mother Theresa".

I agree in spirit with your concepts expressed here, but please note, the expression
eclectic text as I am using it refers to the origin of the MT which came from
several fragments, the LXX and also the older Hebrew Text.  Many different works
were then used at the very beginning.  When the Masorites began the development of
the MT in the Second Century they used the eclectic method rather than simply
copying from one basic text.  This is what I am talking about when I refer to it as
an eclectic text.

Let me note your kind and wise notes:

peter_kirk at wrote:

> Dear "Debtor",
> Thank you for sharing with us this interesting summary of the "Jewish
> Encyclopedia" article. I agree with you (in a separate E-mail) that
> books are not invalid just because they are old. If this "Jewish
> Encyclopedia" was a good book when it was published, it is in many
> ways a good one still, but if it was flawed then it has not got any
> better. I cannot judge it except to say that the extracts given here
> seem sound and uncontroversial for its time.

Debtor: Yes I agree, and I have no way of knowing which statements should be
challenged or left unchallenged. This is one reason I am so thankful to be posting
up on the B Hebrew fellowship.  I have great confidence in your ability and all the
others, but I am in essence simply a learner who desires to know if these things are
so or not.

> But any old book has the possibility of becoming out of date. What it
> states as being true at the time of writing may no longer be true now.
> Most obviously, in your point (5) "recently" is no longer true! There
> have been many further discoveries since this encyclopedia was
> published, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and these may have affected
> the arguments here.

I agree and if they do, then we all should know about them.  However, a dear brother
has already spoken about the DSS Isaiah and in essence help me to understand that so
far this may not be what the DSS will do.

> Unfortunately, your key point here is one which is not true now. I now
> understand your key point that "the Old Testament Text is an eclectic
> text" in the light of your numbered points (38) and (39). The printed
> texts available at the time of the "Jewish Encyclopedia" were indeed
> eclectic texts. But modern printed Hebrew texts such as BHS are not
> eclectic texts but are reproductions of a single manuscript, commonly
> the Leningrad Codex, which is not an eclectic text but a direct
> product of the Ben Asher school. I don't know if the writers of the
> "Jewish Encyclopedia" knew of the Leningrad Codex, if they did they
> were probably wrong to classify it as an eclectic text.

Debtor:  Thank you for noting this.  However, how does this change anything?  The
direct product of the Ben Asher school took centuries to finalize and they did this
from many, many different manuscripts.  While it is true that the Leningrad Codex
did seem to come as a recension from the Ben Asher school, still the Ben Asher
product itself was an eclectic text, or so it seems to me as a result of my
Brother please not this direct quote from T. H. Horne and please inform me if this
is still accurate or not:
The Learned Jews, who removed to Europe in the middle of the eleventh century,
brought with them pointed manuscripts; and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
copies were transcribed with greater care than was exercised in the succeeding ages.
In making these transcripts the copyists adopted certain exemplars, which were
highly esteemed for their correctness, as the standard texts.  These standard copies
bear the names of the Codex of Hillel, of Ben Asher, which is also called the
Palestine, Jerusalem or Egyptian Codex, of Ben Napthali, or the Babylonian Codex,
the Pentateuch of Jericho, and the Codex Sinai.
. . . . . .
The Codices of Ben Asher and Ben Napthali have already been noticed.  We may,
however, state, on the authority of Maimonides, that the first of these was held in
most repute in Egypt, has having been revised and corrected in very many places by
Ben Asher himself, and that it was the exemplar which he (Maimonides) followed in
copying the law, in formity with the custom of the Jews.  Horne, volume 2, part 1;
page 41.

> Conclusion: the Hebrew texts available at the time of writing of the
> "Jewish Encyclopedia" were eclectic texts. But the Hebrew text now
> available, and used as the basis for modern Bible translations, is not
> an eclectic text.

Debtor, this is from the Ben Asher text, correct?  However, this text itself is an
eclectic text.  So the present Hebrew Text which may not rightly be said to be an
eclectic text did, however come to us from the Ben Asher text which is an eclectic
text.  It seems to me that the key here may be the very beginning of the MT and the
two different lines through which it has passed to come to us today, the Ben Asher
and the Ben Napthali lines.  From what I understand, these lines cover many, many
centuries, included many, many different works not only in the Hebrew itself, but
also many different copies from different translations as well.

So the issue with me comes down to this main point, the very beginning of these two
different schools and their manuscripts and the main line development of the MT when
the Masorites began to produce it, in the Second Century of this era.  At the very
head of these lines of the Old Testament Hebrew we have the eclectic process.  Ben
Asher may have completed this process and the Leningrad Codex may be a direct copy
from the Ben Asher, but still, it would seem to follow that at the beginning these
are eclectic texts rather than simply a copy from one uniform Hebrew Text Canon.

In fact, I find that the first of the Masorites even used the LXX as a source text
in order to help them correct certain texts which had been corrupted when they began
the MT in the second century.

> So please be careful before calling others "greatly uniformed" or even
> "uninformed". It may be the one who has not read modern books who is
> uninformed about recent developments. While I respect your years of
> learning, the truly wise man keeps his wisdom up to date and does not
> rely on the wisdom of his youth.
> Peter Kirk

Thank you, I shall try to be more respectful.  Please understand that I am, not
speaking as one who  feels he know this fully, but simply as one who wants to see if
these things are so or not.  In addition, I would love to have all the updated
materials, but my life is rapidly coming to a close, and my resources are very
humble.  I used most of my savings to start building THE PLACE here where I live.
It is a haven of peace for men, women and children who have been sexually abused and
mistreated of all faiths, creeds, races and ethic origins.  Many friends promised to
help me, and then when my savings went all into the work, the friends have left me
alone.  So, it may be that my projects will all be left for others to finish.

Than you dear brother for your kind review and your good suggestions.  I hope you
and others will continue reviewing what I have stated and letting me know the
weaknesses and the strengths involved.

Many Christian friends have been urging me to place into some sort of orderly thesis
my views on both Old and New Testament Textual Criticism.  Therefore, I will
continue trying to find out more and more about my concepts before I do this.  I
hope you and the others will continue to help me. It may be that I will only be a
starter on these things and others will finish them later.

Thank you again dear brother.

Debtor (Ron).

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