The Hebrew Bible
In addition to the Masoretic Text, modern scholars seeking to understand the history of the Hebrew Bible use a range of sources.
These include the Septuagint, the Syriac languagePeshitta
translation, the Samaritan Pentateuch
, the Dead Sea Scrolls
collection and quotations from rabbinic manuscripts. These sources may be older than the Masoretic Text in some cases and often differ from it.
These differences have given rise to the theory that yet another text, an Urtext
of the Hebrew Bible, once existed and is the source of the versions extant today.
However, such an Urtext has never been found, and which of the three commonly known versions (Septuagint, Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch) is closest to the Urtext is debated.
Rabbinic Judaism has many acronyms
, such as "Rambam
"; see Hebrew abbreviations
is an acronym, made from the first Hebrew letter
of each of the Masoretic Text
's three traditional divisions: Torah
(literally 'Instruction' or 'Law'),Nevi'im
('Prophets'), and Ketuvim
('Writings')—hence TaNaKh. (On the "a"s of the word, see abjad
.) Central to Judaism is that the books of the Tanakh are passed from generation to generation, l'dor v'dor
in the Hebrew phrase. According to rabbinic tradition, they were accompanied by an oral tradition, called the Oral Torah
The three-part division reflected in the acronym 'Tanakh' is well attested in the literature of the Rabbinic period
During that period, however, 'Tanakh' was not used. Instead, the proper title was Mikra
, מקרא, meaning ’reading’ or 'that which is read') because the biblical texts were read publicly. The acronym 'Tanakh' is first recorded in the medieval era. Mikra
continues to be used in Hebrew to this day, alongside Tanakh, to refer to the Hebrew scriptures. In modern spoken Hebrew
, they are interchangeable.
Many biblical studies
scholars advocate use of the term Hebrew Bible
(or Hebrew Scriptures
) as a substitute for less-neutral terms with Jewish or Christian connotations (e.g. Tanakh
or Old Testament
The Society of Biblical Literature
's Handbook of Style
, which is the standard for major academic journals like the Harvard Theological Review
and conservative Protestant journals like the Bibliotheca Sacra
and the Westminster Theological Journal
, suggests that authors "be aware of the connotations of alternative expressions such as...Hebrew Bible [and] Old Testament" without prescribing the use of either. Alister McGrath
points out that while the term emphasizes that it is largely written in Hebrew and "is sacred to the Hebrew people", it "fails to do justice to the way in which Christianity sees an essential continuity between the Old and New Testaments", arguing that there is "no generally accepted alternative to the traditional term 'Old Testament.'"[verification needed]
However, he accepts that there is no reason why non-Christians should feel obliged to refer to these books as the Old Testament, "apart from custom of use."
"Hebrew" refers to the original language of the books, but it may also be taken as referring to the Jews of the Second Temple
era and their descendants, who preserved the transmission of the Masoretic Text up to the present day.
The Hebrew Bible includes small portions in Aramaic
(mostly in the books of Daniel
), written and printed in Aramaic square-script
, which was adopted as the Hebrew alphabet
after the Babylonian exile
Development and codification
The inter-relationship between various significant ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament (some identified by their siglum). Mt being the Masoretic text. The lowermost text "(lost)" would be the Urtext
There is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed: some scholars argue that it was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty
while others argue it was not fixed until the second century CE or even later.
According to the Talmud
, much of the Tanakh was compiled by the men of the Great Assembly
(Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah
), a task completed in 450 BCE, and it has remained unchanged ever since.
The 24-book canon is mentioned in the Midrash Koheleth
12:12: Whoever brings together in his house more than twenty four books brings confusion
Language and pronunciation
Number of different words used
The number of distinct words in the Hebrew Bible is 8,679, of which 1,480 are hapax legomena
words or expressions that occur only once. The number of distinct Semitic roots
, on which many of these biblical words are based, is roughly 2000.:112
Books of the Tanakh
The Tanakh consists of twenty-four books, counting as one book each 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, and Ezra–Nehemiah
. The Twelve Minor Prophets
) are also counted a single book. In Hebrew, the books are often referred to by their prominent first word(s)
The Torah (תּוֹרָה, literally "teaching"
), also known as the Pentateuch
, or as the "Five Books of Moses"
. Printed versions (rather than scrolls) of the Torah are often called "Chamisha Chumshei Torah""
(חמישה חומשי תורה
"Five fifth-sections of the Torah"
) and informally a "Chumash"
- Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally "In the beginning") – Genesis
- Shemot (שְׁמֹות, literally "The names [of]") – Exodus
- Vayiqra (וַיִּקְרָא, literally "And He called") – Leviticus
- Bemidbar (בְּמִדְבַּר, literally "In the desert [of]") – Numbers
- Devarim (דְּבָרִים, literally "Things" or "Words") – Deuteronomy
) is the second main division of the Tanakh, between the Torah and Ketuvim
. This division includes the books which cover the time from the entrance of the Israelites into the Land of Israel
until the Babylonian captivity
of Judah (the "period of prophecy"
). Their distribution is not chronological, but substantive.
- Yĕhôshúa‘ (יְהוֹשֻעַ) – Joshua
- Shophtim (שֹׁפְטִים) – Judges
- Shmû’ēl (שְׁמוּאֵל) – Samuel
- M'lakhim (מְלָכִים) – Kings
Ketuvim (כְּתוּבִים, "Writings") consists of eleven books.
In Masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stichs
in the verses, which are a function of their poetry
. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet
(an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, איוב, משלי, תהלים yields Emet
אמ"ת, which is also the Hebrew for "truth
These three books are also the only ones in Tanakh with a special system of cantillation
notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stichs within verses. However, the beginning and end of the book of Job are in the normal prose system.
The five relatively short books of the Song of Songs
, the Book of Ruth
, the Book of Lamentations
and the Book of Esther
are collectively known as the Ḥamesh Megillot
(Five Megillot). These are the latest books collected and designated as "authoritative" in the Jewish canon, with the latest parts having dates ranging into the 2nd century BCE. These scrolls are traditionally read over the course of the year in many Jewish communities.
These books are read aloud in the synagogue on particular occasions, the occasion listed below in parenthesis.
Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel
and Chronicles. Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics.
- Their narratives all openly describe relatively late events (i.e. the Babylonian captivity and the subsequent restoration of Zion).
- The Talmudic tradition ascribes late authorship to all of them.
- Two of them (Daniel and Ezra) are the only books in Tanakh with significant portions in Aramaic.
The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim. The Babylonian Talmud
14b – 15a) gives their order as Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.
In Tiberian Masoretic codices
, including the Aleppo Codex
and the Leningrad Codex
, and often in old Spanish manuscripts as well, the order is Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Ezra.
It is a major subject in the curriculum of Orthodox high schools for girls and in the seminaries which they subsequently attend,
and is often taught by different teachers than those who teach Chumash.
The curriculum of Orthodox high schools for boys includes only some portions of Nach, such as the book of Joshua, the book of Judges,
and the Five Megillot.
- The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text: A New Translation with the aid of Previous Versions & with the Constant Consultation of Jewish Authorities was published in 1917 by the Jewish Publication Society. It was replaced by their Tanakh in 1985
- Tanakh, Jewish Publication Society, 1985, ISBN 0-8276-0252-9
- Tanach: The Stone Edition, Hebrew with English translation, Mesorah Publications, 1996, ISBN 0-89906-269-5, named after benefactor Irving I. Stone.
- Tanakh Ram, an ongoing translation to Modern Hebrew (2010–) by Avraham Ahuvya (RAM Publishing House Ltd. and Miskal Ltd.)
- The Living Torah and The Living Nach, a 1981 translation of the Torah by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan and a subsequent posthumous translation of the Nevi'im and Ketuvim following the model of the first volume
The major commentary used for the Chumash is the Rashi
commentary. The Rashi commentary and Metzudot
commentary are the major commentaries for the Nach.
There are two major approaches to the study of, and commentary on, the Tanakh. In the Jewish community, the classical approach is a religious study of the Bible, where it is assumed that the Bible is divinely inspired.
Another approach is to study the Bible as a human creation.
In this approach, Biblical studies can be considered as a sub-field of religious studies. The latter practice, when applied to the Torah, is considered heresy
by the Orthodox Jewish
As such, much modern day Bible commentary written by non-Orthodox authors is considered forbidden
by rabbis teaching in Orthodox yeshivas. Some classical rabbinic commentators, such as Abraham Ibn Ezra, Gersonides, and Maimonides, used many elements of contemporary biblical criticism, including their knowledge of history, science, and philology
. Their use of historical and scientific analysis of the Bible was considered acceptable by historic Judaism due to the author's faith commitment to the idea that God revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.
The Modern Orthodox Jewish
community allows for a wider array of biblical criticism to be used for biblical books outside of the Torah, and a few Orthodox commentaries now incorporate many of the techniques previously found in the academic world,
e.g. the Da'at Miqra
series. Non-Orthodox Jews, including those affiliated with Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism, accept both traditional and secular approaches to Bible studies. "Jewish commentaries on the Bible
", discusses Jewish Tanakh commentaries from the Targums
to classical rabbinic literature
, the midrash
literature, the classical medieval commentators, and modern-day commentaries.
Also called Tanah
, or sometimes the Miqra
- ^ "Tanach". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- ^ "Scholars seek Hebrew Bible's original text – but was there one?". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2014-05-13. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
- ^ "Controversy lurks as scholars try to work out Bible's original text". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
- ^ Isaac Leo Seeligmann, Robert Hanhart, Hermann Spieckermann: The Septuagint Version of Isaiah and Cognate Studies, Tübingen 2004, pp. 33–34.
- ^ Shanks, Herschel (1992). Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls (1st ed.). Random House. p. 336. ISBN 978-0679414483.
- ^ "Torah". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- ^ "Mikra'ot Gedolot".
- ^ It appears in the masorah magna of the Biblical text, and in the responsa of the Rashba (5:119); see Research Query: Tanakh/תנ״ך
- ^ Biblical Studies Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading, and Interpretation. Norton Irish Theological Quarterly. 2007; 72: 305–306
- ^ Safire, William (1997-05-25). "The New Old Testament". The New York Times..
- ^ Hamilton, Mark. "From Hebrew Bible to Christian Bible: Jews, Christians and the Word of God". Retrieved 2007-11-19. Modern scholars often use the term 'Hebrew Bible' to avoid the confessional terms Old Testament and Tanakh.
- ^ Alexander, Patrick H; et al., eds. (1999). The SBL Handbook of Style. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. p. 17 (section 4.3). ISBN 978-1-56563-487-9. See Society of Biblical Literature: Questions Regarding Digital Editions…
- ^ a b McGrath, Alister, Christian Theology, Oxford: Blackwell, 2011, pp. 120, 123. ISBN 978-1444335149.
- ^ "Marcion", Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911.
- ^ For the recorded teachings of Jesus on the subject see Antithesis of the Law#Antitheses, for the modern debate, see Christian views on the old covenant
- ^ "Scanning an Ancient Biblical Text That Humans Fear to Open". The New York Times. January 5, 2018.
- ^ Davies, Philip R. (2001). "The Jewish Scriptural Canon in Cultural Perspective". In McDonald, Lee Martin; Sanders, James A. (eds.). The Canon Debate. Baker Academic. p. PT66. ISBN 978-1-4412-4163-4. With many other scholars, I conclude that the fixing of a canonical list was almost certainly the achievement of the Hasmonean dynasty.
- ^ McDonald & Sanders, The Canon Debate, 2002, p. 5, cited are Neusner's Judaism and Christianity in the Age of Constantine, pp. 128–145, and Midrash in Context: Exegesis in Formative Judaism, pp. 1–22.
- ^ Ginzberg, Louis (1909). The Legends of the Jews Vol. IV : Chapter XI Ezra (Translated by Henrietta Szold) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
- ^ (Bava Batra 14b–15a, Rashi to Megillah 3a, 14a)
- ^ Midrash Qoheleth 12:12
- ^ Kelley, Page H.; Mynatt, Daniel S.; Crawford, Timothy G. (1998). The Masorah of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: Introduction and Annotated Glossary. p. 20. ISBN 978-0802843630.
- ^ John Gill (1767). A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language: Letters, Vowel-points, and Accents. G. Keith. pp. 136–137. also pp. 250–255
- ^ a b Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2020). Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199812790.
- ^ Also called Kinnot in Hebrew.
- ^ a b "Guide to Israel Schools (Tiferet)". Yeshiva University. .. classes in Chumash, Nach, Practical Halacha, Tefilla, ...
- ^ "Who's Afraid of Change? Rethinking the Yeshivah Curriculum". Jewish Action (OU). know little Nach, are unexcited by the study of ..
- ^ a b "Tova .. our new ." Tova joined the .. faculty this fall as a Nach teacher .. High School for Girls.
- ^ Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. The Living Nach. ISBN 978-1885-22007-3.
- ^ covered in or before 8th grade (so it's a review)
- ^ Esther, Rus, Shir HaShirim, Eicha and KoHeles: these are read aloud in synagogue, each at a particular point in the yearly Holiday cycle.
- ^ Mishlei. Shai LaMora "Eshkol".
- ^ "NACH – Shai LaMorah – All Volumes". Description. Nach metzudos on ...
- ^ Peter Steinfels (September 15, 2007). "Irreconcilable Differences in Bible's Interpretations". The New York Times. of divine origin
- ^ Michael Massing (March 9, 2002). "New Torah For Modern Minds". The New York Times. human rather than divine document
- ^ David Plotz (September 16, 2007). "Reading Is Believing, or Not". The New York Times. Modern scholars have also unmoored ... Most unsettling to religious Jews
- ^ Natalie Gittelson (September 30, 1984). "American Jews Rediscover Orthodoxy". The New York Times. watered-down Judaism soon turns to water
- ^ Chaim Potok (October 3, 1982). "The Bible's Inspired Art". The New York Times. Song of Songs ... was entirely profane .. could not have been written by Solomon
- ^ Mitchell First (January 11, 2018). "Rabbi Hayyim Angel's 13th Book Is Compilation of Tanach-Related Topics". Jewish Link NJ.
- Johnson, Paul (1987). A History of the Jews (First, hardback ed.). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-79091-4.
- Kuntz, John Kenneth. The People of Ancient Israel: an introduction to Old Testament Literature, History, and Thought, Harper and Row, 1974. ISBN 0-06-043822-3
- Leiman, Sid. The Canonization of Hebrew Scripture. (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1976).
- Levenson, Jon. Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible. (San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1985).
- Minkoff, Harvey. "Searching for the Better Text". Biblical Archaeology Review (online). Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
- Noth, Martin. A History of Pentateuchal Traditions. (1948; trans. by Bernhard Anderson; Atlanta: Scholars, 1981).
- Schmid, Konrad. The Old Testament: A Literary History. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012).
has original text related to this article:
has original text related to this article:
- Judaica Press Translation of Tanakh with Rashi's commentary Free online translation of Tanakh and Rashi's entire commentary
- Hebrew–English Tanakh: the Jewish Bible Online edition of the oldest known complete Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible (including cantillation marks) placed next to classic Jewish translation; can be used on most Internet-connected computers and mobile devices.
- Mikraot Gedolot (Rabbinic Bible) at Wikisource in English (sample) and Hebrew (sample)
- A Guide to Reading Nevi'im and Ketuvim – Detailed Hebrew outlines of the biblical books based on the natural flow of the text (rather than the chapter divisions). The outlines include a daily study-cycle, and the explanatory material is in English, by Seth (Avi) Kadish.
- Tanakh Hebrew Bible Project—An online project that aims to present critical text of the Hebrew Bible with important ancient versions (Samaritan Pentateuch, Masoretic Text, Targum Onkelos, Samaritan Targum, Septuagint, Peshitta, Aquila of Sinope, Symmachus, Theodotion, Vetus Latina, and Vulgate) in parallel with new English translation for each version, plus a comprehensive critical apparatus and a textual commentary for every verse.
Last edited on 7 April 2021, at 07:42
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