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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

The Era of the Printed Editions

The fourth era differs from the previous three by the change in medium—from handwritten manuscripts to print. This eventually gave rise to a major change in the transmission of the text, as totally identical volumes could be printed in multiple copies and distributed to diverse geographical areas. At the outset of printing, different Bible editions reflected the different types of sources available to the editors. Thus, for example, the first dated edition of the complete Bible in Hebrew, Soncino 1488, reflected Ashkenazi sources (e.g., with many variants in the text, mostly pleneℐdefective variants, but also other types of variants).

Printing proceeded apace, each editor relying on the sources at hand, until the first edition of the Rabbinic Bible (Miqraʿot Gedolot), Venice 1517 (referred to as RB1517), edited by the convert Felix Pratensis for the Christian publisher Daniel Bomberg. This edition not only included the complete Bible (there had previously appeared four or five other complete editions and over fifty partial editions, e.g., just Torah), but also the Aramaic Targum to each book (excluding Ezra, Daniel, Chronicles), and one or two commentaries to each book. The editor also often listed in the margin variants in the biblical text or vocalization that he found in the manuscripts. He also listed in the margin cases of qere (where a word is to be read differently than it is written), but omitted the term qere; this made it impossible to distinguish between cases of qere and cases of other variants. The introduction and the closing remarks to the work highlight that the editor and publisher were very proud of this edition and felt that it reflected the accurate Bible text. In reality, the editor created a new hybrid biblical text, of the Sefardi tradition mixed with certain Ashkenazi phenomena.

Eight years after this first edition of the Rabbinic Bible, Bomberg issued a second edition of the Rabbinic Bible, this time edited anew by Jacob ben ayyim Ibn ʿAdoniyahu, a Jew (who later converted to Christianity) learned in Talmud, halakhah, and kabbalah. This Venice 1525 edition (referred to as RB1525) differed from the first in a number of areas. First, it presented two or three commentaries on each book. Second, it presented for the first time the apparatus of the Masorah on every page: Masorah Parva and Masorah Magna; it presented the masorah finalis—over 5,000 masoretic lists at the end of the edition, arranged alphabetically, and cross‐referenced to the lists in the edition; it also included at the end of the edition the variants between various Masoretic schools, namely between ben Asher and ben Naphtali, and the textual variants between the West and the East (Eretz Israel and Babylonia; beginning with the Prophets). Third, this edition was more accurate in its marking of the qere‐ketiv, adding qʿ[ere] to the variant, thus clearly identifying it as such; and was more accurate in marking other phenomena, such as majuscular (large) and minuscular (small) letters, etc. Fourth, this edition differed from the first in details of the text, vocalization, and accentuation.

This edition is based upon Sephardi manuscripts; unlike the first Rabbinic Bible, it does not reflect a hybrid edition. RB1525 was the initiative of Jacob ben Ḥyyim Ibn ’Adoniyahu who convinced Bomberg that the first edition, RB1517, could not serve as a model edition, unlike other editions of basic works undertaken by Bomberg, e.g., the Babylonian Talmud; Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. Jacob benḥ ayyim felt that the first edition contained inaccuracies in the text, vocalization, and accentuation. Furthermore, it wasnot accurate enough concerning Masoretic issues. These matters were important to him especially because of his kabbalistic background. Though at first glance these were minor variants (e.g., plene‐defective spelling), which did not affect the meaning of the text, in kabbalistic terms these were often of major importance. The kabbalists envisaged the Torah text as the name(s) of God, and any variant would thus cause damage to the name. Therefore, they venerated the work of the Masoretes in preserving the accurate text. So, too, the various unique phenomena of the biblical text, e.g., majuscular and minuscular letters, all had kabbalistic import; it was therefore, important to reproduce these, too, accurately in the Bible edition.

Using these kabbalistic arguments, Jacob benḥayyim was able to convince Bomberg of the importance of undertaking a new Bible edition with the Masorah. Bomberg, as a Christian Hebraist (he had learned Hebrew from Pratensis), was aware of the newer phenomenon of Christian kabbalah (using the kabbalah for Christian purposes), and in fact wished to promote it. A few vestiges of the kabbalistic factor can be found in RB1525 itself. Thus, we find that Jacob ben ayyim in his introduction to the edition explained the qere‐ketiv in a kabbalistic vein; we find him bringing a few references to kabbalistic issues in the Masorah Parva; and we even find one note in the Masorah Magna (Exod. 10.5 ) where Jacob benḥayyim uses the kabbalah as a criterion to decide between two conflicting masoretic notes.

RB1525 together with its Masoretic apparatus became the standard for the accurate Bible text for the next four centuries. This edition was reproduced again in Venice in 1548; 1568; 1618, and Basel 1618; and later in Amsterdam 1724; and still later in Warsaw 1860–1866.

The medium of print allowed this text to become the standard text (textus receptus), for now there was the ability to distribute one text in many copies among many geographical areas. Furthermore, now it was possible to refer to this work as a standard, even when suggesting that it must be modified. For example, Menahem di Lonzano's ʿOr Torah (in: Shtei Yadot; Venice 1618) was devoted to corrections in the Torah, and Yeididya Norzi's Minḥat Shai (Mantua 1626; first published Mantua 1742–1744; and later republished e.g., in RB1860–1866; introduction—Vienna 1876) was devoted to corrections in the whole Bible. Both of these critics, following the lead of Ramah (Abulafia), and somewhat similar to Jacob ben ayyim, used Sephardi manuscripts and Masoretic notes as their criteria of accuracy. Using these criteria they corrected various cases of textual variants, mostly plene‐defective spelling, and certain cases of vocalization and accentuation. This corrected text, Jacob ben ayyimℐ(Ramah)‐Lonzano‐Norzi, then became the textus receptus.

With time, this text also became the standard in Torah scrolls both for Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Only the Yemenites continued to follow the tradition of Maimonides (i.e., the Aleppo Codex). As it turned out, these two crystallizations (the joint text; the Yemenite text) are very close in the Torah, with only a few variants between them.

A new era in the printed Bible began with the Stuttgart 1937 edition of the Biblia Hebraica. Here P. Kahle abandoned the RB1525 text (which had still served C. D. Ginsburg in his London 1926 edition), and in its place used the text of manuscript Leningrad B19a (1008 CE), which belongs to the accurate Tiberian manuscripts. This manuscript is quite close to the Aleppo Codex, and in some cases is corrected to agree with it. (Kahle had wanted to reproduce the Aleppo Codex, the manuscript of Aharon ben Asher, then still in Aleppo, Syria, but was unable to do so.) Kahle also printed there for the first time the Masorah Parva (but not the Masorah Magna) of manuscript L.

The Aleppo Codex arrived in Israel in 1958 and became the spur for renewed activity in this field. It was chosen as the base text for the Hebrew University Bible Project's Bible edition, a critical edition of the Bible incorporating variants from the ancient translations,Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinic literature. So far, only a small part of this important edition, which also reproduces the Masorah Parva and the Masorah Magna in A, has appeared. In addition, various complete Bibles have appeared that are based on A (edited by M. Breuer); so, too, M. Cohen's CD Rom of the Bible (with vocalization and accentuation searchable; to be augmented in 2003 with both Masorahs of A, as well as a selection of medieval Jewish commentators), and his Miqraʿot Gedolot Ha‐Keter (which will encompass the complete Bible [8 vols. to date], and which also reproduces the Masorah Parva and the Masorah Magna of A). All of these editions involve some reconstruction and conjecture, since the Aleppo Codex is now missing almost all of the Torah (except for the last eight chapters), as well as the end of the manuscript, and several leaves in between. This material is filled in by using Yemenite Torah manuscripts, which are believed to represent the Aleppo Codex closely, and the extant Mas‐oretic notes from the Aleppo Codex. After 500 years of printing the Bible, we can thus turn back from the textus receptus based on Sefardi manuscripts to the accurate Tiberian manuscripts, and indeed to the most accurate of these manuscripts, the Aleppo Codex.

Using the many manuscript sources available today, it is now possible to trace the vicissitudes of the Bible from the era of Qumran to today. The earliest period shows significant textual variation, but by the second period, once one text‐type was accepted, the many variants in the Bible manuscripts that continued to circulate were mostly of a minor nature. By the third period, the sanctity of the Bible text, as well as the apparatus of the Masorah, kept the biblical variants in a minor mode. This was even more the case in the fourth period, under the influence of printing, but most especially in the modern period, where ancient reliable manuscripts can be reproduced with great accuracy and disseminated widely.

[JORDAN S. PENKOWER]

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