Do Any Original Masoretic Texts Still Exist?

This is the last article in a short series that started with the question Who were the Masoretes? and then followed up with Why is the Masoretic Text Important?. This list contains some of the oldest Masoretic Texts and copies which still exist. All of these are more than 1,000 years, and some of them have been in almost continuous use since they were written.

  • Damascus Pentateuch
  • Cairo Codex of the Prophets (Codex Cairensis)
  • Petersburg Codex of the Prophets (Codex Babylonicus Petropolitanus)
  • Aleppo Codex
    • Date:
      • Written: A.D. 920
      • Vowels added: A.D. 925
    • Books:
      • A.D. 920 – A.D. 1947: Entire Hebrew Bible
      • A.D. 1947 – A.D. 1958: Parts went missing
      • A.D. 1958 – Present: The current text is missing all of the Pentateuch to the Book of Deuteronomy 28.17; II Kings 14.21–18.13; Book of Jeremiah 29.9–31.33; 32.2–4, 9–11, 21–24; Book of Amos 8.12–Book of Micah 5.1; So 3.20–Za 9.17; II Chronicles 26.19–35.7; Book of Psalms 15.1–25.2 (MT enumeration); Song of Songs 3.11 to the end; all of Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, and Ezra-Nehemiah.1
      • Copied in: Tiberius, Israel
    • Scribes:
      • Written: Shlomo ben Buya’a
      • Vowels added: Moses ben Asher
    • Pages:
      • A.D. 920 – A.D. 1947: 487
      • A.D. 1958 – Present: 294
    • Location:
    • View: Archive.org, SeforimOnline.org
    • Notes: The Aleppo Codex was a complete copy of the Hebrew Bible until 1947. On November 30, 19472, rioters in Aleppo burned the Synagogue where the Aleppo Codex had been kept for over 500 years, but most of the Codex survived the fire. The Codex was hidden for over a decade before being delivered to Jerusalem in 1958. 40% of the Codex went missing during the decade it was hidden.3
  • Leningrad Codex (Codex Leningradensis, Codex Petersburgensis)
    • Date: A.D. 1008-1009
    • Books: Entire Hebrew Bible
    • Scribe: Samuel ben Jacob
    • Copied in: Cairo, Egypt
    • Pages: 983
    • Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia (National Library of Russia)4A.D. 1863 – Present
    • View: Archive.org
    • Notes:
      • The Leningrad Codex is the oldest known complete copy of the Hebrew Bible.
      • Modern copies of Hebrew Bible use the Leningrad Codex as the source.

Resources

  • McDowell, Josh and McDowell, Sean. Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017) Chapter 4: Have the Old Testament Manuscripts been Transmitted Reliably?

Footnotes

  1. Aleppo Codex, Wikipedia. Accessed 03-Mar-2019.
  2. On November 29, 1947 (the day before the riots), the United Nations voted to make Israel a nation again.
  3. Ofer, Yosef. The Shattered Crown: The Aleppo Codex, 60 Years After the Riots (Biblical Archaeology Review: September/October 2008; Website subscription required) Accessed 18-Feb-2019.
  4. Saint Petersburg, Russia, was named Leningrad from 1934 – 1991.
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