[b-hebrew] Leningrad Codex / BHS error-filled?

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Nov 18 10:12:44 EST 2003

>===== Original Message From "Christopher V. Kimball" <kimball at ntplx.net> 
>(The Leningrad Codex) "..(as BHS is), which is the most error-filled of the
>ancient manuscripts (it is not even the best manuscript written by its
>author, who wrote a much better one after he wrote the Leningrad 
>This is a little disconcerting.  Could someone please explain the issue?

The Leningrad codex does have a number of interesting variants, which you can 
usually spot pretty quickly anyway (missing vowel points, etc.), and the BHS 
apparatus often notes. This comment sounds like the standard argument for 
using the Aleppo codex instead, which is supposed to be better and used to be 
the earliest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible known to exist. (It was 
later damaged and now, If I recall correctly, lacks the bulk of the Torah.) It 
is still the base for the critical edition being worked on in Jerusalem, 
although they have to use something else (Leningrad, I think) for the missing 
portions. Some prefer Leningrad for the simple fact that it is now the 
earliest complete manuscript that we have. I suppose others still think it's 
the best manuscript we have in the Tiberian tradition. It's still the most 
widely accessible (at least, in the form found in BHS), and many of the 
problems with it are details that won't significantly affect most types of 
work. Like anything else, you have to use good judgment. If what you're doing 
requires a particularly precise version of the Tiberian pointing, you'll want 
to use appropriate methods and tools to account for variants that creep into 
just about any manuscript. Another thing to keep in mind in this regard is 
that BHS is not necessarily the best production of the Leningrad codex 
possible. On this issue, you might want to take a look at Dotan's edition.

Trevor Peterson

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