Friday, August 12, 2011

Textual Criticism at Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Yet another journalist has hyped textual criticism in order to shock readers. This time we can read about how Hebrew Bible research at Hebrew University in Jerusalem is significantly reconstructing the text of the Old Testament. The author concludes:

"Considering that the nature of their work would be considered controversial, if not offensive, by many religious people, it is perhaps surprising that most of the project's scholars are themselves Orthodox Jews."

I wonder what educated group of religious people finds textual criticism "offensive." Probably, he means to suggest that the results of their work are offensive.

In Jerusalem, scholars trace Bible's evolution (Associated Press Article)


  1. This sounds oh so familiar. When I completed my doctoral work a few years ago, one journalist wanted to interview a man, who has proved the New Testament a hoax ... I never gave an interview to him :)

  2. If they are using the Aleppo Codex as their base text, then they aren't significantly reconstructing the OT.

    "A believing Jew claims that the source of the Bible is prophecy," said the project's bearded academic secretary, Rafael Zer.

    That's probably a mistranslation for "the source of the Bible is revelation."

    And finally, it begs the question to state that finding an ancient variant proves that the present text doesn't reflect the original. All it proves is that the text used to be more fluid than it is now.

    There is plenty enough evidence in the Masoretic Text itself to prove that it doesn't perfectly reflect the original, but true believers will always find a way to twist any evidence to fit their theory.

  3. The scholars of the Bible project should be commended for their extraordinary efforts in exhaustively collating the textual evidence, but there is nothing revolutionary about it. Ironically, the policy of the HUBP is not even to give evaluation of variants... :) The end result of the project will be the fullest listing of the evidence to date, but most of the significant problems have already been discovered and discussed. Nevertheless, we can look forward to the completion of the project as a great help for OT textual criticism... hopefully sooner than 2211!