Who are the Hebrew Sofer?

The Hebrew alphabet (excluding final letters) in Ashurit script.

My last two articles have been: What is a Torah? and What is a Sefer Torah?, and now I want to address who writes Sefer Torahs. The Hebrew word Sofer (or sopher) (plural: soferim/sopherim) means "one who counts", and refers to Jewish scribes who have faithfully copied the Torah for thousands of years. I find it interesting the the scribes are called "counters" and not "writers". Only a trained and certified Sofer...

Continue Reading

What is a Sefer Torah?

Torah Scroll from Lithuania written in the sixteenth century

My last article was What is a Torah?, and now I want to discuss a particular type of Torah. A Sefer Torah is a handwritten copy of the Torah on a scroll, rather than in a book, and is still used for ceremonial purposes in Synagogues. On Mondays and Thursdays short sections of the Torah are read, and a longer sections are read on Saturday (Sabbath, Shabbat) and during festivals; over the course of a year, the entire scroll will be read....

Continue Reading

Documentary Review: Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy

Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy

In 2015, a Christian
documentary was released named Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus. Many scholars believe the
Exodus as described in the Bible never happened, and many archaeologists agree
that opinion. The purpose of Patterns of
Evidence: The Exodus
is to show that archaeologists are looking for
evidence from the wrong time period, so naturally there wouldn't be evidence of
the Exodus. A few simple calculations using dates the Bible gives leads...

Continue Reading

Documentary Review: Fragments of Truth

I had planned on
seeing the new documentary Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy
on opening night and writing a review for today's article, but the projector in
the theater wasn't working, so my plans have changed. The Moses Controversy is scheduled to be shown again on
Saturday, March 16th, and Tuesday, March 19th, so hopefully I'll be able to
write a review for next weekend, but by then it will be to late to see it in
the theater.

<!--...

Continue Reading

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
    • Date:...
Continue Reading

Why is the Masoretic Text Important?

My last post, Who were the Masoretes?, described the
work of the Masoretes. Now I want to focus on why their work is important to
Biblical scholarship.

The great, indeed all-important, question which now meets us is this—Does this Hebrew text, which we call Masoretic, and which we have shown to descend from a text drawn up about AD 100, faithfully represent the Hebrew text...

Continue Reading

Who were the Masoretes?

Genesis 1:1 in English Standard Version, Dead Sea Scrolls, Leningrad Code and Modern Hebrew.

The Masoretes were
Jewish scribes and scholars who made it their life's work to accurately copy
the Hebrew Bible. They worked approximately from the A.D. 600's to A.D. 950,
primarily in the areas of Jerusalem, Tiberius and Babylonia. The name Masoretes
comes from the Hebrew word masorah,
which means "tradition" or "to hand down".

During the first century A.D. Rome ruled over Israel. In A.D. 66, the first...

Continue Reading

Could the Gospel Message have been Accurately Transmitted Orally?

Pastor and theologian Rainer Riesner concludes in his doctoral dissertation Jesus as a Teacher the disciples could have received Jesus's teachings orally, and passed those lessons on to others without corrupting the message.

  1. Jesus spoke with authority to command respect and concern to safeguard his teachings.
  2. Jesus's claim to be the ...
Continue Reading

Were the Gospels Transmitted like the “Telephone” Game?

In the "Telephone" game, people start by sitting in a circle. One person makes up a sentence and whispers it into the next person's ear, and the second  person whispers what was heard into the third person's ear, and so on. This process continues until the last person says the sentence out loud, and the person who started the game says the original sentence out loud. Usually the sentence get changed during the game, and the starting sentence and ending sentence...

Continue Reading

What is “Aunt Sally’s Secret Sauce”?

I've heard Greg Koukl from the Christian organization Stand to Reason use an analogy he calls "Aunt Sally's Secret Sauce" to show how the New Testament was likely transmitted in the early church.

  • Aunt Sally has a secret elixir to make herself look younger
  • Aunt Sally decides to share the recipe for the elixir with friends
  • Each friend shares the recipe for the elixir with their other...
Continue Reading