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Is the Old Testament Historically Reliable


The high priest choose 6 elders from each of the twelve tribes of Israel and ... Differs from the Hebrew canon in quality of translation and was intended to be ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Is the Old Testament Historically Reliable

Is the Old Testament Historically Reliable?
Old Testament has shown to be historically
reliable through
  • Textual transmission the accuracy of the
    process of copying the manuscripts through
  • The confirmation of the Old Testament by hard
    evidence uncovered through archaeology
  • Documentary evidence also uncovered through
  • Testimony of the Authenticity of the Old
    Testament through Jesus.

Bibliographical Evidence
  • Number of Manuscripts and the closeness to
    original date of authorship of the existent
    Manuscripts do match the N.T.
  • Sheer age of the text and the inability of
    writing material to survive.
  • The loss of manuscripts during the destruction of
    Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Bibliographical Evidence
  • Jewish commitment to the text
  • Romans 31, 2 What advantage then hath the Jew?
    or what profit is there of circumcision? Much
    every way chiefly, because that unto them were
    committed the oracles of God.

Jewish Commitment to the Text
  • Josephus We have given practical proof of our
    reverence for our own Scriptures. For, although
    such long ages have now passed, no one has
    ventured either to add, or to remove or to alter
    a syllable and it is an instinct with every Jew,
    from the day of his birth, to regard them as the
    decrees of God, to abide by them, and if need be,
    cheerfully to die for them

Jewish Commitment to the Text
  • Rabbi Aquiba (Jewish Scribe in the 2nd century
    A.D) the accurate transmission of the text is a
    fence for the Torah.

Jewish Caretakers of the Old Testament Text
  • Sopherim scribes Jewish scholars and
    custodians of the text between 5th-3rd B.C.
  • The Zugoth pairs textual scholars 2nd-1st
    century BC
  • Tannaim repeaters or teachers 1st century BC-AD
    200 work also included the Talmud
  • Talmudists (A.D.100-500)

  • A synagogue roll must be written on the skins of
    clean animals
  • Prepare for the particular use of the synagogue
    by a Jew.
  • Must be fastened together with strings taken from
    clean animals
  • Every skin must contain a certain number of
    columns, equal throughout the entire codex

  • The length of each column must not extend less
    than 48 or more than 60 lines, the breadth must
    consist of thirty letters
  • The ink should be black and be prepared
    according to a definite recipe
  • An authentic copy must be the exemplar, from
    which the transcriber ought not in the least

  • No word or letter must be written from memory
  • Between every consonant the space of a hair or
    thread must intervene
  • The copyist must be in full Jewish dress and have
    cleansed his whole body
  • Not begin to write the name of God with a pen
    newly dipped in ink
  • Should a king address him while writing the name
    of God he must not take notice.

  • Once a manuscript had been copied with the
    exactitude prescribed by the Talmud and been
    verified it was accepted as being equal to the

Jewish Caretakers of the Old Testament Text
  • Masoretes Jewish scholars between A.D 500 A.D.
  • Two major centers of Masoretic activity (one in
    Babylon, the other in Palestine
  • Most famous Masoretes were the ben Asher family
    (Tiberias) who produced the ben Asher text that
    is considered the standard Hebrew text of today

  • Use of vowel points
  • Introduced an extensive system of multiple levels
    of section, paragraph, and phrasal divisions that
    were indicated in Masoretic markings.
  • One of the most frequent of these was a special
    type of punctuation, for a full stop used to help
    mark verse numbers later on.

  • Numbered the verses, words, and letters of very
  • They calculated the middle word and middle letter
    of each verse.
  • Pointed out the middle letter of the Pentateuch
    and the middle letter of the whole Hebrew Bible.

Note about Age
  • Age was not seen as advantage when determining
    the authenticity of a Scribe.
  • On the contrary it was seen as disadvantage as
    older copies where viewed as more susceptible to
  • Older copies placed in a lumber cupboard in the
    Synagogue. Once the cupboard was filled the
    oldest copies where destroyed

Note about Age
  • Paleographer Sir Frederic Kenyon Thus far from
    regarding an older copy of the Scriptures as more
    valuable, the Jewish habit has been to prefer the
    newer as being the most perfect and free from

Number of Hebrew Manuscripts
  • 1780 Benjamin Kennicott numbered and published
    the list of existent Hebrew Manuscripts as 615
  • 1788 Giovanni de Rossi published a list of 731
    Hebrew Manuscripts

Number of Hebrew Manuscripts
  • 1890s Cairo Synagogue 200,000 Manuscripts and
    fragments (10,000 which are biblical)
  • Dated 6th-8th Century. Attic had been walled off
    and forgotten
  • Half of the Cairo manuscripts are housed at
    Cambridge University -- The rest are scattered
    across the world (A number of the larger
    manuscripts are in New York in the Jewish
    Theological Seminary)

Number of Hebrew Manuscripts
  • When you add the Dead Sea Scrolls the total
    number of manuscripts of known Old Testament
    Manuscripts and fragments rises to well above

Famous Manuscripts
  • Cairo Codex (A.D. 895) Located in the British
    Museum. Produced by the Moses ben Asher family
    contains all the Prophets (but none of the rest
    of the O.T.)
  • Codex of the Prophets of Leningrad (A.D. 915)
    contains Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the
    twelve minor profits
  • Codex Babylonicus Petropalitanus (A.D. 1008)
    also located in Leningrad. Earliest complete
    copy of the Masoretic text. It was prepared from
    a corrected text of Rabbi Aaron ben Moses ben
    Asher A.D. 1000

Famous Manuscripts
  • British Museum codex (A.D. 950) contains part of
    Genesis through Deuteronomy
  • Aleppo Codex (A.D. 900)
  • The consonants in the Codex were copied by the a
    Jewish scribe in Israel. The text was then
    verified, vocalized, and provided with Masoretic
    notes by Aaron ben Asher.
  • It was partially destroyed (including all of the
    Pentateuch in the 1947 Arab riots in Israel after
    the announcement of the UN Partition Plan.
  • Before its partial distruction it was the oldest
    complete Masoretic manuscript of the entire O.T.

Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Sir Frederic Kenyon (textual scholar) wrote in
    his book Our Bible and Ancient Manuscripts
    There is indeed no probablility that we shall
    find manuscripts of the Hebrew text going back to
    a period before the formation of the text which
    we know as Masoretic. We can only arrive at an
    idea of it by a study of the earliest
    translations made from it.

Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Found by a shepherd boy named Muhammed who was
    searching for a lost goat, He tossed a stone
    into a hole in a cliff on the west side of the
    Dead Sea about 8 miles south of Jericho. The boy
    heard the sound of shattering pottery.
  • 5 of the scrolls found in what is now known as
    cave 1 were purchased by the Archbishop of the
    Syrian Orthodox Moastery at Jeruslaem. Three
    other scrolls where purchased by Professor
    Sukenik of Hebrew Univeristy.

Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The Archbishop could not read Hebrew so he called
    the American School of Oriental Research in
    Jerusalem and the acting director of the school
    named John Trever photograph each colomn of what
    turned out to be the Isaiah scroll and sent the
    prints to Dr. W. F. Albright of John Hopkins

Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Albright wrote, My heartiest congratulations on
    the greatest manuscript discovery of modern
    times!...What an absolutely incredible find! And
    there can happily not be the slightest doubt in
    the world about the genuineness of the
    manuscript. He dated it at 100 B.C.

Possible Origin
  • Sect known as the Essenes who lived in Kirbet
  • Belief is that they hid the scrolls in the caves
    around A.D. 66 before the first Jewish Revolt

Value of the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • They are dated about 1000 years earlier then the
    earliest Masoretic manuscripts.
  • When word of the dead sea scrolls came out there
    where many who assumed that a dramatic correction
    of the Old Testament text would need to follow.
    However, the consistency of the Dead Seas scrolls
    with the Maseretic proved to be astonishing.

Value of the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Dr Miller Burrows (Yale Univ)Considering what
    a long time intervened between the Dead Sea
    Scrolls and the oldest of the medieval mss. one
    might have expected a much larger number of
    variant readings and a much wider degree of
    divergence. It is a matter for wonder that
    through something like a thousand years the text
    underwent so little alteration. As I said in my
    first article on the scroll Herein lies its
    chief importance supporting the fidelity of the
    Masoretic tradition.

Dr Yadin
  • What is astonishing is that despite their
    antiquity and the fact that the scrolls belong to
    this pre-standardization period they are, on the
    whole, almost identical with the Masoretic text
    known to us. This establishes a basic principle
    for all future research on texts of the Bible.
    Not even the hundreds of slight variations
    established in the texts, affecting mainly
    spelling and occasionally word substitution, can
    alter that fact.

What do the scrolls contain?
  • Cave 1 (1947)
  • Isaiah (entire copy125 B.C.), Partial copies of
    Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, Samuel,
    Ezekiel, Psalms, as well as some extra-biblical
  • Cave 2 (1952)
  • Partial copies of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
    Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Job, Psalms, Ruth

What do the scrolls contain?
  • Cave 3
  • No Biblical writings
  • Cave 4 (1952)
  • Thousand of fragments from all the Old Testament
    books with the exception of Esther (Fragment of
    Samuel dated to 3rd Century BC thought to be the
    oldest known piece of the Bible)

What do the scrolls contain?
  • Cave 5-6 no significant Old Testament finds
  • Cave 7-10 no significant Old Testament finds
  • New Testament Find (Greek Text)? -- Jesuit
    paleographer Jose OCallahan believes he found
    some very early fragments of Mark (A.D. 50), Acts
    (A.D. 60), Romans, 1 Timothy, 2 Peter, James (AD
  • Mark 652, 53 fragment pictured

(No Transcript)
Other Early Manuscripts
  • Nash Papyrus acquired in Egypt by W. L. Nash had
    been dated in the 2nd century B.C. Contains
    parts of Exodus including the 10 Commandments.
    Agrees with the Masoretic text
  • Jeremiah SealBitumen seal of a wine jar Jeremiah
    4811 agrees with the Masoretic text (Date
    1st-2nd Century B.C.

(No Transcript)
Non-Hebrew evidence
  • Septuagint (3rd 1st Century B.C.)
  • Letter was found indicating that King Ptolemy had
    an interest in Jewish literature and sent a
    delegation to the Jewish high priest Eleazar in
  • The high priest choose 6 elders from each of the
    twelve tribes of Israel and sent them to
    Alexandria along with an authenticated copy of
    the Torah.
  • The elders then took up residence in a house on
    the island of Pharos where in seventy two days
    they finished the translation of the Pentateuch
    into Greek

  • Differs from the Hebrew canon in quality of
    translation and was intended to be used in public
    services in the synagogues rather than for
    scholarly or scribble purposes
  • The text of Job in the original Septuagint was
    one-sixth shorter then the Hebrew text.
  • Large variations in Joshua, Samuel, Kings,
    Proverbs, Esther, and Jeremiah

Contributions of the Septuagint
  • Bridged the religious gap between the Hebrew and
    Greek speaking peoples, as it met the needs of
    the Alexandrian Jews
  • Bridged the gap between the Hebrew Old Testament
    of the Jews and the Greek-speaking Christians who
    would use it with the New Testament

Contributions of the Septuagint
  • Provided a precedent for missionaries to make
    translations of the Scriptures into various
  • Bridges the textual criticism gap by its
    substantial agreement with the Hebrew Old
  • Codex Vaticanus (A.D. 325-350)
  • Codex Sinaiticus (A.D. 350)

Samaritan Pentateuch
  • When the Samaritans separated from the Jews
    during the 5th -4th century B.C. they took with
    them the Pentateuch as it existed
  • Referred to by Eusebius and Jerome but not made
    available to modern western scholars until 1616
    when a Samaritan manuscript was discovered in

Samaritan Pentateuch
  • Earliest copies are from the 11th century
  • There are approximately 6000 deviations from the
    Masoretic Text though most of them are considered
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