Various explanations have been suggested for this system.
The Historical-Critical Approach
The medieval grammarian and commentator Radak Rabbi David Kimhi, ? The later scholars who re-established the text found different readings in the surviving manuscripts and accepted the reading found in the majority of manuscripts, but when they couldn't make up their minds about a reading they indicated both possibilities with these marginal notes. Kimhi's explanation of the kere and ketiv system, which like the preceding item c also implies that we are not sure which are the original readings, is not the only possibility, but for present pur-poses it is noteworthy that he considered it likely and that his religious faith did not prevent him from holding this view.
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The variant readings in Talmudic quotations of the Bible were well known to Jewish authorities throughout the Middle Ages. Shabbat 55b, s. M c BYRM. To this day, all Jewish Bibles, including the Koren Bible on which the codes are based, contain the readings that are inconsistent with those quoted in the Talmud.
Discrepancies between good copies of the Masoretic Text were recognized and discussed throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. The Talmudic passage in Kiddushin 30a identifying the middle letter, words, and verses in the Torah concludes with statement that it is impossible to determine whether the middle letter belongs to the first half of the Torah or the second half because "we are not expert on full and defective spelling" that is, the use of vowel letters.
That passage was cited often in the Middle Ages to explain discrepancies between manuscripts and as the reason why a Torah scroll should not be declared unfit for use solely on the basis of discrepancies in full and defective spelling. In sum, apart from the archaeological evidence about the history of Hebrew spelling, and manuscript evidence about the history of the Biblical text, explicit statements in Talmudic and later Jewish sources make it crystal clear that present copies of the Tanakh are not identi-cal to the original text. Even the editors of the Koren edition have stated as much.
When this edition was first published in , at a public program celebrating its publication one of the editors who prepared the text stated: "We do not claim that we have established our edition on the basis of the tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. Of course, one might claim that whatever may be the prehistory of the MT and the computerized version of the Koren text, in the latter the codes do work!
Perhaps the Koren editors were miraculously guided to produce the text that does contain the revealed code. It is beyond me why God would have allowed the Talmudic rabbis to base laws on a text that He knew He would eventually change.
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In any case, whether the "codes" really work is also highly dubious, as we shall see. They studied two lists of sages, consisting of 34 and 32 individuals, respectively, and published the results, based on the second list, in the journal Statistical Science in In an accompanying note the editor of the journal stated: Our referees were baffled: their prior beliefs made them think the book of Genesis could not possibly contain meaningful references to modern-day individuals, yet when the authors carried out additional analyses and checks the effect persisted.
The paper is thus offered to In WRR's experiment, everything hinges on the claim that the sages appear "in close proximity" to their dates. It is noteworthy that "close proximity" does not necessarily mean what laymen are likely to think it means. As Rips states elsewhere: We have chosen for our analysis a specific pattern, namely, proximity in a certain technical sense [emphasis mine -- JHT] of related words appearing as ELSs. Thus, everything is reduced to a statistical analysis of the significance of such proximity patterns.
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The letters of their names and dates are drawn from different chapters of the Torah, often many pages apart. Any proximity between them is found only on grids created by computer from ELSs. Perhaps this is why WRR do not show in their article any of the textual arrays in which the sages and their dates appear near each other an example would be Fig.
It is virtually impossible for non-mathematicians to examine their evidence. In response to my question about this, McKay explained: "The pictorial evidence in the form of letter arrays is irrelevant to the mathematical question. What matters is only the numerical 'distance' computed according to WRR's complicated definition. All they claim is that they are a little closer than expected on average. This slight statistical trend needs a careful test to detect. Some rabbis are far from their dates Not close to anything. Close to 8 wrong dates.
It seems the date is wrong; should be 1st Iyyar. The right date does even worse. It is instructive to note that the rabbi contributing most strongly to the Statistical Science result is But from a theological point of view, why should one be impressed by correlations that are surprising only "on average," and not in every case? The same point may be illustrated another way. In each, every sage was paired with the date of a sage chosen randomly from the list, and the distance between the names and those dates was computed.
When the original, correct list of distances was compared to the , random lists, "the correct list achieved one of the first places" fourth place, according to WRR in this race among one million contestants.
The Other Torah
This means that three of the lists in which the sages were mostly paired with the wrong dates did better! In those three lists, the sages and the dates were closer than they are in the correct list. From a mathematical point of view it is interesting that the correct list did as well as it did better than , other lists , since there was no a priori reason to expect it to do so. But from a theo-logical point of view, a test in which mostly incorrect lists perform better than the correct one seems meaningless.
If God arranged the text so as to pair the sages with their dates, why would He have paired most rabbis more closely with incorrect dates than with correct ones?
Returning to the subject of textual criticism, MBBK re-ran WRR's experiment on the list of 32 sages based on the text of Genesis in the Koren edition and then on six other editions of the MT whose differences from Koren were listed by Prof. The numbers under "Rank" mean that if one compares the correct dates to 10,, random permutations of the dates, the correct dates perform 6th best, 19th best, th best, etc. Note that the other texts do much worse than Koren, but that even in Koren the correct dates do not perform best. In other words, there is no known text of the Torah in which the list with the correct dates does best!
Fragments from 14 different manuscripts of Genesis have been found at Qumran, from the last two centuries B. They differ from the MT in different degrees. Extrapolating from variants in these fragments, each of the manu-scripts when complete would have differed from the MT by hundreds of letters. Experiments show that deletion of 10 letters in random places is enough to de-grade the result by an average factor of , and 50 letters are enough to eliminate it completely. WRR's first list [the 34 sages - J.
Ten letters deleted in random places are on average enough to eliminate its significance altogether. This conclusion has catastrophic consequences for any theory that "codes" in the original text have survived until today. MBBK argue that WRR's results, to the extent that they seem interesting at all, are due to flaws in their research methods. There are numerous possible forms of each rabbi's name and acronym that could have been used, 46 and numerous possible ways to write their dates.
This strongly suggests, they argue, that WRR's choices may have been made not in an unbiased way, but precisely in order to enhance their results. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He and Bar-Natan also ran a version of the "famous sages" experiment on the first part of the Hebrew translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace, equal in length to Genesis.
They followed the procedures used by WRR on Genesis, and achieved the same degree of success. That such results can be found in so many texts, including texts for which no one claims divine authorship, is not unexpected. Main article: Sefer Torah. Main article: Targum.
Fixing God's Torah; The Accuracy of the Hebrew Bible Text in Jewish Law (2001)
Main article: Septuagint. See also: Torah in Islam and Islamic—Jewish relations. The Emergence of Judaism. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. We recall The Torah may also refer to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures The Torah furthermore covers instruction in two media, writing and memory But there is more: what the world calls 'Judaism' the faithful know as 'the Torah.
The Pentateuch: An introduction to the first five books of the Bible. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday. Reading the Pentateuch: a historical introduction. Pauline Press. Retrieved Encyclopaedia Judaica. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Eugene H. Merrill, Mark Rooker, Michael A. Grisanti: The Term 'Pentateuch' derives from the Greek pentateuchos , literally, The Jewish religion: a companion. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 27 February The Legends of the Jews Vol. Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism. The Jewish Study Bible.
Retrieved 18 September III, p. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Sa'adia's own major contribution to the Torah is his Arabic translation, Targum Tafsir. NYU Press. Controversy exists among scholars as to whether Rasag was the first to translate the Hebrew Bible into Arabic. Baden, Joel S. Bandstra, Barry L Reading the Old Testament: an introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Birnbaum, Philip Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts. Blenkinsopp, Joseph Treasures old and new: essays in the theology of the Pentateuch. Sources of the Pentateuch: texts, introductions, annotations.
Fortress Press. Carr, David M Reading the fractures of Genesis. Westminster John Knox Press.
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Carr, David M. Clines, David A The theme of the Pentateuch.