[b-hebrew] Authority of the Masoretes

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Aug 3 14:23:47 EDT 2004

>===== Original Message From "wattswestmaas" <wattswestmaas at eircom.net> =====
>Hallo Members,
>With particular reference to the 'qere' and 'ketiv' readings of the
>scripture:  How much "authority" is given to the variant readings?  Are they
>generally preferred than what the written text would imply?

Depends on who you're asking. Generally speaking Orthodox Jewish readers trust 
them implicitly. In my experience there are Evangelical Christians who come 
very close to the same position. I suspect that most others are more critical 
in their treatment of the qere readings. Part of the question is how you 
explain where the qere readings arose. Some of them seem to be euphemistic, to 
replace an offensive word with a less offensive. Some seem to be little more 
than standardization of spelling. Sometimes the differences are a bit more 
substantive, but the reason is not always clear. There are also cases to 
consider where it appears that a word has been pointed according to two 
different understandings. I'm rather fond of the notion that they were 
basically preserving what they knew to be the oral reading in the synagogue 
and not really trying to critique readings on their own. Of course, this still 
leaves the question of where the synagogue readings came from, but from the 
standpoint of how the Masoretes did their work, I think it makes the most 

Trevor Peterson

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