Ancient Biblical Manuscripts

The Hebrew manuscripts (Aleppo Codex c.920 CE and Leningrad Codex c.1008C CE) are two of the most Ancient Biblical Manuscripts of our time.

These writings have provided and encouraged both learning and teaching of the basics of Judeo-Christians beliefs we hold today. Beliefs that many wanXt to know about and attempt to live each day by.

In 1947 the find at Qumran of the Dead Sea scrolls, published a manuscript history of the Tanakh that dates back a millennium from the two earliest complete codices.

Before this discovery, the earliest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament were Greek manuscripts (Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus) from 300--100 BCE.

Out of the 800 ancient manuscripts discovered at Qumran, only 220 were writtten in the Tanakh and most of them were fragmentary.

The Aleppo Codex

Of the Ancient Biblical Manuscripts, the Aleppo Codex is very similar to the Leningrad Codex as both are almost identical. It is said that Aleppo codex, also known as the Crown, is said to be more accurate and therefore referred to as the primary reference.

Written by Shlomo Ben Boya'a who was a scribe and Aharon Ben Asher, a Masorete, who added the vowels, cantillation marks and Masoretic commentary. Both were very accurate in recording the Masora.

Unfortunately, this manuscript was extensively damaged in 1947 due to an extreme disagreement when Palestine was divided into two states.

Of the Ancient Biblical Manuscripts, this one was hidden and protected for many years. Why was it so important that this book was protected?

Why wasn't the text, the cantillation marks and the system of vocalization been copied generations ago so that future individuals could gain knowledge to increase the value of living?

We may never know. Luckily for us, the manuscripts have now been copied and rewritten in paper and electronic forms so that those who want to view these illustrious pieces of history can.

It is interesting to note that it seems that both manuscripts are very much the same. It isn't mentioned as to why two books were created and why they were written only several hundred years apart.

Was it because someone felt that there needed to be two copies but yet each manuscript was strongly protected? Of course, an object that is highly regarded is always coveted and even hidden if possible.

Interpretation is Everything

When the scrolls were first filled with the written word, no vowels were used. It wasn't until the Masoretes began deciphering the scrolls and added the vowels we know today.

The Masoretes also introduced the cantillation marks which were designed to assist the reader in how to properly convey the written text. This was a very crucial and dedicated task to take on.

The true meaning of the scrolls needed to be transcribed as if the original writer was actually present and verbally dictating the text.

Although the vowels were extremely useful, they also hindered the understanding of the text. The text could be mispronounced depending upon who was reading the written word.

The rules of grammar varied from country to country so it was imperative that the preservation of the content found in the scrolls was relayed properly and correctly.

The cantillation marks assisted with syntactics, phonetics, punctuation and also musically. The first three are mandatory and have a number of rules to follow when writing any type of text.

In regards to the musical aspect, this was so the text could be chanted in the tune that is customary for the particular text.

It is important to understand our history in a way that is accurate as possible. If not, misconceptions and false ideals are created which can easily misinterpret what someone else has written so long ago.

By examining the text from various view points, one can obtain a greater understanding and then hopefully comprehend the true meaning and share with others the knowledge that they themselves have gained.

The Leningrad Codex

Currently residing in Russia, a preserved Leningradensis or Leningrad Codex is the oldest and most complete book of the Old Testament (in Hebrew) known of today.

Written in Masoretic text, Hebrew text, this manuscript consists of the various bibles that were originally written on scrolls. It is also composed into three sections which are the Instruction, the Prophets and the Writings.

A bonus of the Leningrad Codex is that there is also a section of notes that were written by numerous scholars.

This "cheat notes" so to speak are to help the reader obtain additional insight to the original words of the manuscript.

The importance of this particular book is due to the age and the completeness of the text of which today's Hebrew bibles are printed editions of.

There are two very important pieces of the Leningrad Codex they are the folio 40 verso and the Carpet Page.

Both of these are unusual but contain extremely meaningful text that emphasize the importance of events that occurred before and during that time.

The folio 40 verso is part of a song and the Carpet Page is a beautiful image or diagram containing multiple verses.

Return from Ancient Biblical Manuscripts to the Home page.

Share this page: