[b-hebrew] Masoretic transmission of pronuncation

Michael Abernathy mabernathy at conwaycorp.net
Sun Jul 14 19:16:34 EDT 2013

I'm not really certain how to respond to this discussion.It is my 
understanding that most languages start off with a lot of 
inconsistencies in spelling.Spelling becomes solidified after a seminal 
work of literature and or a dictionary present a standard for the 
language. Before Webster's dictionary, for example, you might find the 
spelling /aetaernall/, for eternal. Disregarding regional differences 
between America and Great Britain, such as color verses colour, you 
still find some variation in spelling is normal.As I understand it the 
Masoretes were attempting to indicate the pronunciation of vowels as 
they understood how the words were pronounced at that time.How many 
common words in English have a variety of acceptable pronunciations? If 
we only consider the pronunciation of vowels the, aunt, and either come 
to mind immediately.Can we really ascertain that the Masoretes were 
wrong in their pronunciation?

Another question that I have to raise is Karl's comment, "Even if the 
Masoretic points are 99% accurate, that averages out to one mistake 
every three to four verses." I think that statement argues against 
Karl's point.Do you really think that critical readers would not notices 
one mistake every three to four verses?I won't say that the vowel 
pointing is perfect but could someone please pick a chapter and show me 
where there are that many apparent errors in transmission?

Personally, I place the vowel points and the other markings in the 
Hebrew text on the same level I would comments by any student of the 
scripture.They might be in error but they are worth considering. Having 
said that, I also consider how other variations might alter the 
interpretation of the text.


Michael Abernathy

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