[b-hebrew] Is the Massoretic text reliable?

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Sun Nov 22 09:38:57 EST 2009


> It is far from clear whether the Syriac was a translation. There are
> strong
> > arguments for Syriac being the original language just as there are strong
> > arguments for Greek being the original language.
> >
> > 1) The patriarchate of Antioch (the base of early Christian missionary
> > work) to this very day maintains a strong tradition of Syriac primacy.
> >
> This is a modern tradition, similar to the Eastern Orthodox tradition that
> puts the LXX as primary over the original Hebrew.
I don't know what you mean by modern tradition. Do you mean recently
introduced to the English speaking world? The Orthodox patriarchate have
maintained this tradition since time immemorial.

> Was there any book of the New Testament written in Antioch?
Not that I know of but my understanding is that Syriac was also a bit of a
lingua franca in the near east even if not as prevalent as Greek.

> Matthew most likely wrote while still in Judea or Galilee, being a
> government official most likely learned Mishnaic Hebrew, so either wrote in
> that or Galilean Aramaic. Mark was a translator to Greek for Peter, so
> Greek
> would be his language. Luke wrote his three books most likely in Rome in
> the
> lingua franca of his day, namely Greek. John was living in Hellenized Asia
> Minor when he wrote his books, Paul wrote from where ever, none addressed
> to
> speakers of Syriac so would not have used Syriac, James and Jude wrote from
> Jerusalem. Peter went to Babylon, which had been Hellenized.
A lot of what you just wrote has been handed down to us through Orthodox

> The evidence for Syriac is very weak, at best.
Again, I'm not arguing for Syriac primacy. I'm just noting that one of the
main patriarchates of Orthodoxy has maintained this tradition for some time
and there must be a reason why. However, having said that, I often find
people here in Ukraine who believe that the bible was originally written in
the Slavonic of the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox church. We may be
looking at a similar phenomenon. In the Alexandrian patriarchate Coptic
texts were in heavy use but I haven't seen any claims of Coptic primacy.

> > 4) The language spoken in Antioch (the base or early Christianity) was
> > Syriac and not Greek.
> >
> The base of early Christianity was Jerusalem, not Antioch, during the time
> that most of the books of the New Testament were written. This is the
> picture given in Acts.
Sorry. I should have said one of the bases of early Christianity. The
Catholic Orthodox church had five patriarchates before the schism:
Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome. It is quite clear
for each of these five why they became patriarchates and it is also clear
that both Jerusalem and Antioch where before the other three and that
Jerusalem was a base of Christianity before Antioch. However, internal
evidence from the documents of the NT clearly show that Antioch was a
significant and organised base of missionary work.

> > You've lost me here. The sinaiticus and the vaticanus are the major basis
> > of the Byzantine tradition. What do you mean by 'Byzantine tradition'?
> >
> Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are of the "Alexandrian text type", not Byzantine.
> They are the basis of modern "critical" editions of the New Testament.
Ok. I'm now clear on what you mean. The later Byzantine traditions are
characterised by their use of minuscule script and punctuation not present
in the older traditions.

> >
> >
> >>
> >> > 2) Given the above how sure can we be of the original state of the NT
> >> > documents? e.g. absence of YHWH in MSS makes me suspicious.
> >> >
> >>
> >> As for not using YHWH in the Greek text, remember, these were Jews,
> >> writing
> >> in a Jewish religious milieu, in which κυριος had been the accepted way
> of
> >> referring to YHWH in Greek for a couple of centuries already, why should
> >> they be different?
> >>
> >>
> >>
> > Actually, fragments of the LXX which predate the vaticanus and the
> > sinaiticus show the tetragrammaton in all its glory in its rightful
> places.
> > The NT present a prophet named Jesus who actively opposed the traditions
> of
> > men. The idea that such a man would support the superstition which the
> > original authors of the hebrew books evidently did not share seems, at
> least
> > to me, to be a complete contradiction in terms.
> >
> That the Tetragrammaton is written instead of a translation or
> transliteration shows already the traditions of men, in this case that the
> name should not be pronounced.

This is far from conclusive. We have no explicit testimony to this.

James Christian

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