[b-hebrew] Was the MT for public consumption?

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Thu Dec 23 23:36:18 EST 2010

George, Fred, et al,

I think that one of the problems we have is the "definition" of "public" as you
say below. Fred is correct in one sense, the Torah, for that matter the Tanakh,
was written/copied by priests/scribes/rabbis for primary use by the
priests/scribes/rabbis even when read in the synagogue. You, George, are correct
that use of the text was in the synagogue which is a wider audience. (This was
paralleled in the Church with Latin in the West and Greek in the East being
limited to scholars, ecclesiastics, etc., from circa 150 AD - 1500 AD). In fact,
the Torah was to be written, copied, read and taught to ALL Israelites by the
Levites including the priests. It was only after the destruction of the Second
Temple that things changed more dramatically. With no priests nor Levites it was
left to the rabbis. Subsequently, it appears, that when the Talmud, Mishnah,
Toseftah, etc., were completed (codification of the Oral Law), then they took
the place of the Tanakh even when the Tanakh was read in the synagogue.

The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Tanakh was copied (except for Esther)
numerous times. The sectarian manuscripts also show the importance of the
written text even within their group. They were not produced for a large group.

As to the NT use of the OT quotes/allusions, I always remind myself that it is
the LXX, ca. 250 BC, that was primarily used; although the Tanakh was also used
when necessary. This was because most of the NT was written to
churches/Godfearers/Gentiles/Jews who attended the weekly meetings in the
Diaspora. As far as I can tell, the use of the OT in quotes and allusions are in
the gospels and epistles that had a large number of Jewish believers in their
assemblies and in which the Gentile believers were to know and learn about also.
Revelation is a different kettle of fish altogether.

So it is really more of a "both/and" whether than "either/or."

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "George Athas" <George.Athas at moore.edu.au>
To: "B-Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 23, 2010 6:38 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Was the MT for public consumption?

> We're obviously using different definitions. By 'public consumption' you are
referring to literate use of a language as a means of communication between a
large number of people. I'm using it to refer to people who are involved in
hearing or reading it, regardless of whether they are using it in day-to-day
> Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)
> www.moore.edu.au
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