See James A. Sanders and Astrid Beck, “The Leningrad Codex: The Oldest Complete Hebrew Bible,” BR 13:04.


See the discussion in James A. Sanders, “Spinning the Bible,” BR 14:03.


The notations help to preserve the text by clarifying unusual spellings, indicating where words appear elsewhere in the Bible and identifying those unique words that appear only once in the Bible, among other things. See the sidebar to this article, and Marc Brettler, “The Masoretes at Work: A Tradition Preserved,” sidebar to “The Leningrad Codex,” BR 13:04.



I am grateful to Professors Adrian Schenker and Shemaryahu Talmon, chief editors of Biblia Hebraica Quinta and the Hebrew University Bible, respectively, for reading the following and making helpful suggestions; any errors are mine alone. See Emanuel Tov, “The Place of the Masoretic Text in Modern Text Editions of the Hebrew Bible: The Relevance of Canon,” in The Canon Debate, ed. by Lee McDonald and Peter Flint (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, forthcoming).


New Testament text critics have established eclectic texts out of necessity, beginning in the 18th century, since there is nothing comparable to the MT for the New Testament. Up to that time, Erasmus’s Greek text of the New Testament was used by most students, including Luther when he translated the New into German in 1519. Text critics in many other fields also have to establish eclectic texts.


It is only in this century that any such effort has been made for the Qur’an, and the resistance to it is phenomenal. See James A. Sanders, “Hermeneutics of Text Criticism,” Textus 18 (1995), p. 3.


See Shemaryahu Talmon, “Aspects of the Textual Transmission of the Bible in the Light of Qumran Manuscripts,” Textus 4 (1964), pp. 95–132; Moshe Goshen-Gottstein, The Book of Isaiah: Sample Edition (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1965), pp. 12–13; Dominique Barthélemy, Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume (Nashville: Abingdon, 1976), pp. 878–884.


For the earlier date, with focus on some form of “original” text, see Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1993), pp. 313–349; for the later date, with focus on the earliest community-accepted texts, see Talmon, “The Textual Study of the Bible—A New Outlook,” in Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text, ed. Frank Moore Cross and Talmon (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1975), p. 325; and see also Sanders, “Hermeneutics of Text Criticism,” pp. 16–20.


Sanders, “The Task of Text Criticism,” in Problems in Biblical Theology: Essays in Honor of Rolf Knierim, ed. H.T.C. Sun and Keith L. Eades (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997), pp. 315–327.


The panel of editors preparing the individual biblical books for Biblia Hebraica Quinta includes Christian and Jewish scholars of varying persuasions.


If objectivity is but subjectivity under constraint, as seems now generally recognized, then the constraint clearly indicated in our field is dialogue between positions having different hermeneutics of the text. See Sanders, “Intertextuality and Dialogue,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 29:1 (1999), pp. 35–44.


Barthélemy, Les Devanciers d’Aquila, Vetus Testamentum Supplements 10 (Leiden: Brill, 1963); his thesis is affirmed in Tov et al., The Greek Minor Prophets Scroll from Hever (8H.ev XIIgr), Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 8 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990); see also Sanders, “Stability and Fluidity in Text and Canon,” in Tradition of the Text, ed. G. Norton and S. Pisano (Freiburg: Universitätsverlag, 1991), pp. 203–217.


Elias Bickerman, Studies in Jewish and Christian History (Leiden: Brill, 1976), vol. 1, p. 196.


The earliest New Testament manuscripts exhibited fluidity of text until after the conquest of Constantine, when accuracy in transmission became an issue; see Sanders, “Text and Canon: Old Testament and New,” in Mélanges Dominique Barthélemy: Etudes bibliques, ed. P. Casetti et al., Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 38 (Fribourg: Editions Universitaires, 1981), pp. 373–394.


Prior to the first century, the hermeneutic of inspiration of sacred literature was basically dynamic, in which the focus was on the message conveyed; during the first century the hermeneutic shifted to “verbal inspiration” out of the need to have Scripture address rapidly changing problems in Judaism not directly addressed by the plain sense of earlier biblical messages. See Sanders, “Text and Canon: Concepts and Method,” Journal of Biblical Literature 98 (1979), pp. 5–29, and From Sacred Story to Sacred Text (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1987), pp. 125–191.


Ronald S. Hendel, The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York and Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998).


Barthélemy, Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament, the introductions to the three volumes so far published, esp. vol. 3 (Fribourg: Editions Universitaires, 1992), pp. xlix-xcvi; Sanders, “Task of Text Criticism,” p. 324.


See Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1992), pp. 108–109.


See Barthélemy, “Les Tiqquné Sopherim et la critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament,” Vetus Testamentum Supplements 9 (1963), pp. 285–304, and Etudes d’histoire du texte de l’Ancien Testament (Fribourg: Presses Universitaires, 1978), pp. 91–110. Barthélemy shows that the figure 70 in MT Genesis 46 and Exodus 1 is secondary to the LXX witnesses that have 75 instead. His argument is that the number 70 in the MT in those passages constitutes hidden tiqquné sopherim (scribal changes) in the Masoretic tradition introduced to counter the view that there were 70 deities. This impinges directly on the readings in Deuteronomy 32:8, which Hendel treats as a separate problem.


See, e.g., Sanders, “Task of Text Criticism,” pp. 326–327.