Monday, December 9, 2013

Oldest Hebrew Texts of the Torah and Old Testament

There are many Old Testament and Torah fragments and full scrolls found throughout the ages. 
Many question why not older. Here is the reason why.

Apart from form, Jewish tradition always preferred the use of scrolls over codices for Torah Reading in synagogues. Due to their sacred nature, centuries-old scrolls are extremely rare since Jewish tradition requires defective and worn out scrolls to be buried or put away in sealed rooms, a unique process called geniza. In addition, while a codex can contain the whole of the Old Testament, a Torah scroll will always have only the five Books of Moses – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

You can read more of what they found here. 

The 'Rediscovery' of the Oldest Torah Scroll

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 |  Tsvi Sadan  

You can also see the Dead Sea Scroll now Online. For those that are curious about all that. 

Hebrew is the most common language, though a small number of scrolls are written in Aramaic, and a few in Greek. The most common script is the Jewish script, also called the "Assyrian" or "square" script, which was widely used from the sixth century BCE on. However, about 14 biblical scrolls are written in the ancient Hebrew script, and many texts use a cryptographic script, combining mirror writing and a mixture of Jewish, ancient Hebrew, and Greek scripts.

A Sefer Torah in the Bologna Library May Be the Oldest Known Torah Scroll

While compiling a catalog of Hebrew manuscripts held at the library, Perani recognized that the script on the nearly 120-foot-long scroll was significantly older than its catalog date. Furthermore, the scroll did not follow scribal standards established at the turn of the 13th century by Maimonides, the foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaism. The paleographic analysis was followed by carbon-14 tests at the University of Salento and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, which confirmed the 12–13th-century date.

More information on various text found here. 

The Leningrad Codex

The Leningrad Codex, or Leningradensis, is the oldest complete Hebrew bible still preserved. While there are older parts of Bibles, or biblical books, still in existence, there is no older manuscript which contains the whole Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament in Hebrew). The Leningrad Codex is considered one of the best examples of the Masoretic text.

How Old is the Manuscript?

The manuscript was written around the year 1010 C. E. It was probably written in Cairo, and later sold to someone living in Damascus. 

And of course don't forget this one. 

Codex Sinaiticus

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book. [Find out more about Codex Sinaiticus.]

I will be posting a lot more here soon, I just wanted to get all this started for now. 

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