Ben Chayyim text and Leningrad Code
[warning: fondamentalismo protestante]
The Ben Chayyim Masoretic text was the uncontested text of the Old Testament for over four hundred years. The Ben Chayyim text was used in the first two editions of "Biblia Hebraica" by Rudolph Kittel, usually referred to as BHK, published in 1906 and 1912. However, in 1937, Kittel changed his Hebrew text from the Ben Chayyim to the Ben Asher text.
The Ben Asher text was based on a text call the Leningrad Manuscript (B19a; also called simply L), which was dated around 1008 A. D. Using the peculiar logic of that day, which believed that older must always be better, Kittel published his 1937 edition based on this "older" text. His 1937 edition had about 20,000 changes (most of them minor, but changes nevertheless) from the Ben Chayyim text. Both texts are still referred to as "Masoretic," so care must be taken as to which text is being referred to. It had apparently not dawned on Kittel that the Ben Asher version was based on very few minor manuscripts similar to B19a, while the Ben Chayyim text followed the vast majority of the manuscripts available. Why would Kittel throw out the evidence provided by the vast majority of manuscripts to follow only a small minority of texts? May I suggest, very carefully, that profit may have been the motive? Kittle had not published a major work for many, many years, he was growing older, funds for his retirement were low, and he was living in the rapidly fading glow of past glory. One final work would not only propel him back into the limelight of scholarly recognition, but would provide the funds for his impending retirement. He found a large and receptive market in the rapidly growing modernist camp that had grown to hate the traditional texts of both the Old and New Testaments.
In 1966 there was a further revision of Kittel's "Biblia Hebraica" called "Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia," which was also based on the "older" Ben Asher text. This new edition of Kittel is generally referred to as BHS. The revision was the work of unbelieving German rationalists, and represents theologically liberal modernism in its worst form. The 1937 BHK and the newer BHS are not only based on a few minor Hebrew manuscripts which contain many erroneous footnotes, but "corrections" were often made to these already inadequate and corrupt texts by referring to such things as the "Septuagint" or "LXX", which is nothing more than the Hebrew Scriptures translated into the Greek language. The "Septuagint" is a poor translation at best of the Hebrew due mainly to the fact that it does not follow the verbal and formal rules of translation, but is largely a paraphrase, changing the wording wherever the translators desired, seeking to "clarify" the meaning of the original.
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