[b-hebrew] Variants of YHWH in the BHS Text

Bearpecs at aol.com Bearpecs at aol.com
Tue Sep 23 02:10:21 EDT 2003

davedonnelly1 at juno.com references a website 
which includes the following statement:

"Because of the presence or absence of the so-called "vowel
   letters" (consonants used to indicate vowels) in unpointed MSS,
   however, the consonantal Hebrew text as found in the Masoretic
   manuscripts splits into two unique but complementary traditions:
   that of Ben Asher (circa centuries 9-10 CE) and that of Ben
   Chayyim (circa centuries 13-14 CE)."

This makes no sense to me.  AFAIK there is no such thing as a "tradition" of 
Ben Chayyim.  There were two Massoretic traditions: that of Ben Asher and that 
of Ben Naftali, the former being generally accepted as authoritative.  

The only "Ben Chayyim" I know of who might be relevant is Jacob Ben Chayyim 
ibn Adoniyah, who edited the Rabbinic Bible of 1525.  This was considered the 
definitive edition (textus receptus) and the basis of the first two editions of 
BHS's predecessor, the BHK.  Ben Chayyim was the first to collate a large 
number of manuscripts and massoretic volumes in order to create what he 
considered the best possible representation of the Massoretic Text (which of course 
meant according to the tradition of Ben Asher) together with massoretic 
marginalia.  (Norman Snaith, however, suggests that the consonantal text of the first 
Rabbinic Bible, 1517 edited by Felix Pratensis, is closer to the authentic Ben 
Asher tradition).  Unfortunately he did not provide footnotes or 
bibiliography, so we do not know which specific manuscripts and volumes he used.

Can anyone clarify whether this website has some arcane information the rest 
of us do not?  or is it simply mistaken?

For more details, see:  Jacob Ben Chajim Ibn Adonijah's Introduction to the 
Rabbinic Bible ... and the Massoreth ha-Massoreth of Elias Levita... (by 
Christian D. Ginsbug, 1867, reprinted 1968 with a Prolegomenon by Norman H. Snaith, 
The Library of Biblical Studies, ed. by Harry M. Orlinsky, Ktav.)

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list