[b-hebrew] Jacob ben Hayyim - Masoretic Text

Schmuel schmuel at nyc.rr.com
Thu Jul 28 09:33:19 EDT 2005

Hi Folks,

>>This doesn't make sense, since it was used for the King James Bible.  Likely the Geneva also, although that should be checked. ...

Peter Kirk,
>The story may not be that simple. Ben Hayyim's text is called the "Second Rabbinic Bible", but before that there was the "First Rabbinic Bible", published by Daniel Bomberg in Venice and 1517 - see http://www.glaird.com/inspire3.htm. See further below.

Gordon Laird has a wonderful site.  His discussion of Psalm 110, and the David Kimchi (Radaq) view is very interesting. I trust his scholarship as much as just about anybody, although of course his specialty is not necessarily NT editions. 

Peter Kirk
>By the way, I also found a link (untested) to a free downloadable Ben Hayyim Bible at http://www.christianhospitality.org/benchayyim.htm. But this is apparently incomplete. This page confuses the issue by calling this Second Rabbinic Bible the Bomberg Bible - although Bomberg was perhaps the printed of both.

There are multiple corn-fusions on that site in regard to the Ben Hayim Masoretic Text, I emailed the site author and basically decided that he does not seem to grasp the issues and definitions. If you like I will go into this more.

The site recommended earlier (I think by you Peter :-)
http://www.bibles.org.uk/ looks far more reliable.

>>... And there really weren't other Christian Bibles of note till about 1880. ...
>This isn't fair. English is not the only language in the world! 

Agreed.  Even in English I meant after 1611 :-) (I was thinking but not writing).  Of course Tyndale and Douay-Rheims and others before 1611 were very notable English translations.  And of course Luther and Reina Valera and others are primary Bibles historically.

>Also, before these two was the translation of William Tyndale (about half of the Hebrew Bible) and John Rogers (alias Thomas Matthew, who completed Tyndale's work), also the Great Bible which is probably based on Tyndale and Rogers. Indeed, the KJV is based largely (83%, according to one estimate) on the work of Tyndale and Rogers, although revised from a variety of Hebrew texts including both the First and Second Rabbinic Bibles.

Agreed, I think the 83% figure might be NT.  And such figures are notoriously squirrelly. e.g. Who knows if they include the very significant preposition, word order, conjunction and punctuation changes, or whether they are talking about major verb and noun differences.  You can get a statistic for just about anything, the insight is in the details. 

> But did Tyndale use Ben Hayyim's text? It would have been very newly published when Tyndale started work on translating the Hebrew in the late 1520's. I can't find any clear statement of which text Tyndale used, but at http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3271 it is suggested that at least one of his sources was Ximenez' 1517 Complutensian Polyglot.

Right.  And I don't think he personally finished the Tanach, and his sources may have been mixed.  

>Tyndale also worked with Luther and from his translation. Now Luther cannot have used the Ben Hayyim text because he was working before Ben Hayyim (his Pentateuch was published in 1523); in fact it seems he used Gerson's 1494 Brescia edition (see The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1908-1912) as quoted at http://www.bible-researcher.com/hebrewtext1.html).

That's quite interesting :-)  What do we know of the Gerson edition ?  Is it a similar Masoretic Text work as Ben Hayim ?  Perhaps a precursor to the 2nd Rabbinic Bible?  I wonder if Max Gerson, famous cancer doctor, is a descendent. 

>But does this actually make any difference? According to one site I found, there are a total of just EIGHT differences between the Ben Hayyim and Ben Asher (Aleppo/Leningrad) texts, none of which affect the meaning. (I accept that this count of eight does not include the different pointings of YHWH.) So, are the differences really enough to make a fuss about?

That is the big issue.  I will fly it by some folks. I have seen claims that the difference is much greater. Perhaps there are some notes in Kittel's 3rd edition.

>>KJB used the ben Hayim text directly as its primary underlying text, augmented more with things like Kimchi's grammar than anything else. ...
>It seems that the KJV translators in fact followed Tyndale and Rogers as much as any Hebrew text. 

Well I don't think that is fair :-)   They were updating what they viewed as the best English Bibles available, but they had about a dozen semitic-language scholars, and went over every single verse in committee.  The 83% figure can mean just about anything, and might not apply to the Tanach.  It is easy enough to compare Tyndale and KJB to see differences, if we want to get more involved.

>And Ben Hayyim's edition was only one of the many Hebrew texts they had available.

Every source I have seen indicates it was the primary underlying Hebrew text.

Steven Avery

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