The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible

By Eugene Ulrich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Orthography and Text in 4QDana
and 4QDanb and in the
Received Masoretic Text

For certain ancient manuscripts, the authors, editors, or scribal copyists had such an acute knowledge of grammar and orthography that it is possible and profitable to describe their orthographic system in detail. If such manuscripts are fragmentary or damaged, letters that are difficult to read can sometimes be more accurately and confidently restored. The Ben Sira scroll from Masada is an example of such a manuscript. Professor John Strugnell was able to describe the system of orthography employed by the scribe and thus gain greater control for determining a number of damaged letters in that scroll.1

With regard to the text of the Bible, though the Masoretic Text is used as the common standard text, it has been amply demonstrated for a number of books that the ancient manuscripts discovered at Qumran sometimes provide us with more sound, preferable readings than does the MT, the textus receptus from medieval times.

The purpose of this study is, first, to explore the orthography of the

1. John Strugnell, “Notes and Queries on ‘The Ben Sira Scroll from Masada,’” in Eretz-Israel 9: W. F. Albright Volume (ed. A. Malamat; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1969) 109-19. For the publication of the Ben Sira scroll, see Y. Yadin, The Ben Sira Scroll from Masada (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and the Shrine of the Book, 1965), Hebrew, pp. 1-45, English, pp. 1-49, and plates I-IX (anticipatory reprint from Eretz-Israel 8 [1967]).

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