lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
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The previous post completes my blogging of what I found the more interesting differences between the Masoretic text of the Torah and the Samaritan version. So, in summary, can we now answer the question of which version, viewed dispassionately, and not from the usual Jewish bias, is the more original and authoritative?

The answer is: neither version, really. The differences between the two cannot be considered en masse; broken down into their individual differences we see sometimes the Samaritan text (and often the other ancient versions—the Septuagint, for example—appear to be in the right and the Masoretic Text wrong; in other places the Masoretic Text is clearly in the right and the Samaritan text corrupted. In many places the Masoretic Text resolves difficulties in the Masoretic Text; possibly the presence of such difficulties is an indication of the text's true provenance (or incorporation of multiple sources)—or possibly the difficulties are an indication that of corruption in the Masoretic Text itself.

One thing which is worth bearing in mind is that the text the Samaritans use appears to have originally been Jewish: a text ancestral to it has been found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. On top of this a variety of Samaritanisations have been layered, such as changing Deuteronomy to make Mt Gerizim, rather than an implicit Jerusalem, God's chosen place. However this Samaritanisational layer is thin; the text's deeper history is either Jewish or shared Samaritan/Jewish. Which itself raises interesting questions, considering how at loggerheads the Jews and Samaritans had already been by the point of divergence of the texts in the second (?) century BCE: the final split between the Jews and Samaritans was, according to both people's accounts, centuries earlier.

The preceding posts constitute as I say only what I found the most interesting differences between the two texts of the Torah; for each of these differences there are many more in the text, most of which are trivial unless, like Rabbi Akiva, you consider every single letter in the Torah of significance. Nevertheless, some of the other differences are interesting too. If (ha ha) you have been reading along the whole time and would like to pursue this subject further yourself, the text I have been using is The Samaritan Torah: Jewish and Samaritan Versions Compared by Mark Shoulson; you can get it on Amazon for $56 or £37, or on Lulu.com for £32.39. (Hmm, that's odd; I got it in paperback from Lulu for £24.76 (+ £3 P&P), but I can't see the paperback version now.) At any rate, Lulu do frequent promotions offering considerable discounts (which is probably how I purchased it); if you'd like to get a copy I recommend you sign up to Lulu and wait until an discount offer comes along.

Alternatively, since I started this project, the noted PR guru for the Samaritan community Benyamim Tsedaka has brought out his own comparative text, complete with annotations, and all in English, not Hebrew. Obviously his version comes with more authoritative knowledge, but from what I hear of it (I haven't read it myself), the English in it is a little strange.

‫חֲזַק חֲזַק וְנִתְחֲזֵּק!‬

[Samaritan Torah] Samaritan Torah notes         Jewish learning notes index


Date: 2013-09-16 09:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khiemtran.livejournal.com
That's been a very impressive and interesting project!

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