[b-hebrew] YHWH Pronunciation

Schmuel schmuel at nyc.rr.com
Wed Jul 27 06:10:47 EDT 2005

Hi b-hebrew,

>The  Leningrad text is just one Masoretic Text, not up to the standards of the  Received Text. >From this viewpoint, what really counts is the Received  Text.  And it is not  likely to have the annoying small copying errors.  

>The Leningrad Codex agrees much more with the Aleppo Codex than does Ben  Hayyim. 

My understanding is that both the Leningrad and Aleppo Codex can be considered 
as in the Ben Asher text family. 

>The Aleppo Codex is almost certainly the text which Maimonides  verified as the very best massoretic text.

Yes, I believe there is some scholarship in that regard, although I am not sure how carefully it has been reviewed, considered, vented, etc.  Also, Maimonides is only one rabbinical writer to consider, it would be interesting to see if Radaq and Ibn Ezra and others show a preference for one text or another.  If you have specific studies, links, quotes, references on these issues, I will be most appreciative.

>Both agree more often than Ben  Hayyim's text with statements in massoretic texts that identify   specific readings.  

Well, if the Masoretic texts that you are using for identifying specific readings are texts in the Ben Asher family, then that would not be very surprising :-)  Perhaps you would like to elaborate more.

>Ben Hayyim compiled his text from multiple  manuscripts, without clarifying either which manuscripts he used or how he  decided between them when there were discrepancies.  

Understood.  One might consider this akin to the work of Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza and the Elziver brothers in the NT Received Text work.  Although we do have some Erasmus notes, and correspondence, in a lot of cases we do not have the type of information you mention, such as the exact priorities and methodologies used in choosing a particular reading. 

And specific manuscript information is hard to fine.  I would assume that a number of these early manuscripts are still extant, but because the specific manuscripts today are not as early as Leningrad or Aleppo they are passed over.  Again there is a similarity to NT scholarship. 

Also let's keep in mind that this Ben Hayim text was the base scholarship text as well into the 20th century, including Kittel's first two editions.  It would be an interesting study to know what text was primarily being used in Jewish circles in the 17th-19th century, and for translation to English as well. 

>For such reasons, the  Chief Rabbinate of Israel approved Dotan's edition (based on Leningrad Codex)  for use as the official Tanakh of the Israeli armed forces. All of this reasons from logic.

Sure.  In both NT and Tanach studies, "scientific textual criticism" has let to a different textual view, especially in the second half of the 20th century.  Whether its precepts are "from logic" is open to rather vigorous discussion, dialog and debate.
>I generally abhor responding to statements on this list which are  based on theology (anyone's; whether or not I agree with it); but since  "Inspiration" (by which I assume is meant "divine" inspiration) was brought up  as a justification for prefering the RT, I need to respond:  

Let me be a little clearer.  My historic process was more in reverse.  I used versions/translations based on modern text-critical principles for many, many years before studying issues (granted, more in the NT) about the alternative conceptions of the text.  It was those studies that led me to reject texts based on modern scientific textcrit, as I simply concluded that the precepts themselves were fatally flawed.  (At the time, I stopped using the NIV and started using the NKJV).  In fact, in some cases I believe the principles will ipso facto and by necessity produce an errant text.  .. which today I consider this the soft underbelly of textcrit studies.   So from my scholarship studies I switched to a Received Text position.

So I simply want this to be clear, that my process was 

Study of textcritical viewpoints ---> rejection of eclectic text --->
Acceptance of received text     --->  full acceptance of inspiration and preservation.

In some cases I realize the process is in the opposite order, but since you are talking about
my "justification" for the TR view, I feel it is incumbent to splain my historical development :-)

>First, we have a guideline:  "Debate that forces particular faith or  doctrinal perspectives onto a reading of the text is not appropriate subject  matter for this forum. "

Well an over-extension of this guideline would shut out great scholars like Professor Lawrence 
Schiffman.  He accepts the Masoretic Text in general as a Received Text (his words), and really considers all the alternative readings to the Masoretic Text in the DSS, Samaritan Penteteuch, Targumim, Greek OT, Vulgate and Peshitta  as akin to window dressing (my words, not his).  Of course Professor Emanuel Tov takes a very different view, and this type of vigorous discussion even makes it to popular journals like BAR.  

Now I ask.... would Professor Schiffman be "forcing particular faith..." onto a reading of a text by declaring fealty to the Masoretic Text as the inspired Dvar Elohim ?  If not, what is the real conceptual distinction between his view, and my stating the preference for a particular Masoretic Text manuscript as the Received Text source ?  Compared to those who reject the Masoretic Text, we are 99.9% closer to each other than to those who would rewrite the Tanach italicizing the sources above to change the text. 

>Second, it may be perfectly acceptable for a Christian to believe that the  Ben Hayyim edition is divinely inspired and therefore superior (although I con't  see any more justification for this than believing the same of the King James  Version).

How about the Masoretic Text in general ?  The view of the rabbinics such as Maimonides who your referenced earlier. If your answer is "yes", it is divinely inspired and therefore superior (say to the DSS, Greek OT, etc)  how would you defend your position against those who rip the "divinely inspired" view in precisely the same manner ?  Inquiring minds do want to know.

> I do NOT, however, believe this is possible for Jews, if  only because Ben Hayyim later became an apostate. 

This is rather a curious position. 

The Massorah of David Ginsburg I guess must be even more of a problem, since I gather he was a believer (aka.. "apostate") even when the work is done.

How about Akiba ? 
Would his declaration of Bar Kochba as Messiah negate his writings and scholarship ?

>Therefore, given that I  do not expect anyone to give weight to my theological objections to Ben Hayyim,  I hope that no one will expect me to give weight to their theological defenses  of 
>the Ben Hayyim text. 

No, I have no expectations as to how you will receive my views.  You are more than welcome to disagree and give counterpoint :-)  However, in the post above, the only substantive reason I could find is the Maimonides question, which itself is just an iceberg tip of even the Rabbinical and Orthodox viewpoint.

Steven Avery
Queens, NY

>He does, however, have a nice name.

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