[b-hebrew] Proverbs 16:27

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Dec 10 16:38:00 EST 2007

On Dec 10, 2007 4:08 PM, Yigal Levin wrote:

> Dear Yitzhak,
> I'm surprised by this statement of yours. The consonantal text is the text
> that was written by the "original" authors, and it was the text that was
> passed down and copied (or mis-copied) for centuries. The Masoretic dots are
> a much later Medieval addition to the text, reflecting the tradition that
> the Tiberian Mesoretes had "recieved" about how the text was to be read.
> While I do not share Karl's total disdain of this tradition, there are some
> cases in which the Mesoretes apparently got it wrong. Any proposed
> "correction" of the text that "only" involves changing the vocalization is
> much easier to assume than one which involves unattested changes in the
> consonantal text.

There is no doubt that in some cases the Massoretes sometimes "got it
wrong."  Or perhaps had a tradition which in its origin was somehow wrong.
But I do not think it is easier to assume a change in vocalization than a
change in the consonantal text.  This may go especially for this case where
a mater lectionis is involved.  There are some cases where different Massoretic
representations of the same word in different Massoretic manuscripts show
different matres lectionis, which are consistent with each Massoretic
vocalization.  Furtheremore, the use of explicit Kathiv and Qari statements for
matres lectionis is rare.  So, at least where a mater lectionis is involved,
assuming a change in the consonantal text seems to be pretty similar to
assuming a change in the vocalization.

This is sufficient for the specific case at hand.  However, I also think the
argument could be carried further to other cases of vocalization vs.
changes.  Thus, I think that the creation of a vocalization tradition went hand
in hand with the fixing of the consonantal text.  Similarly, the
presence of Kathiv/
Qari could have its origins in placing a vocalization tradition of one
text upon a consonantal text of a different tradition.  In this case
it is still possible
that the vocalization could be wrong where the consonantal text is correct, but
there may be cases where the vocalization is correct where the consonantal text
is not.  I think it ends up being very hard to show that a change in
vocalization is
in any way "easier" than a change in consonantal text.  I also don't see what
you gain from such an approach.  You gain very little, and you are placing
yourself on a risky foundation if you argue that "well, it is only a change in
vocalization so it is OK to assume it."

I do think that you might find more changes in the vocalization, as a result of
linguistic development than in the consonantal text but this is only because of
the nature of those linguistic developments.  A linguistic development could
also affect the consonantal text.

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list