[b-hebrew] Masoretic transmission of pronuncation

Jerry Shepherd jshepherd53 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 15 02:17:33 EDT 2013

Hi Michael,

I think your observations in this post are pretty much spot on.  Since you
used the example of "aetaernall," I would add as well, to address another
position that someone has advocated on this list, that when modern-day of
versions of Chaucer or the John Donne sermons are produced, that the
updated spelling in this modern versions would not be considered example of

With regard to your question on the Masoretic points, I think it is
probably the case that most of the instances containing questionable
vocalization tend to come in clusters, rather than being distributed evenly
throughout the text.  So talking about an error every or three or verses is
highly misleading.  There are places where one could read for quite a
stretch without coming across any problematic instances.



Jerry Shepherd
Taylor Seminary
Edmonton, Alberta
jshepherd53 at gmail.com

On Sun, Jul 14, 2013 at 5:16 PM, Michael Abernathy <
mabernathy at conwaycorp.net> wrote:

>  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.
> ****
> Sincerely,****
> Michael Abernathy****
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