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Addresses on the Revised Version of Holy Scripture

The Massora magna contained the above


We now pass from what may be called the outward history of the Revision to the inward nature and character of the work of the Revisers, and may naturally divide that work into two portions--their labours as regards the original text, and their labours in regard of rendering and translation.

I. First, then, as regards the original text of the Old Testament.

Here the work of the Old Testament Company was very slight as compared with that of the New Testament Company. The latter Company had, almost in every other verse, to settle upon a text--often involving much that was doubtful and debatable--before they proceeded to the further work of translating. The Old Testament Company, on the contrary, had ready to hand a _textus receptus_ which really deserved the title, and on which, in their preface, they write as follows: "The received, or, as it is commonly called, the Massoretic text of the Old Testament Scriptures has come down to us in manuscripts which are of no very great antiquity, and which all belong to the same family or recension. That other recensions were at one time in existence is probable from the variations in the Ancient Versions, the oldest of which, namely, the Greek or Septuagint, was made, at least in part, some two centuries before the Christian era. But as the date of knowledge on the subject is not at present such

as to justify any attempt at an entire reconstruction of the text on the authority of the Versions, the Revisers have thought it most prudent to adopt the Massoretic text as the basis of their work, and to depart from it, as the Authorised Translators had done, only in exceptional cases."

That in this decision the Revisers had exercised the sound judgement which marks every part of their work cannot possibly be doubted by any competent reader. The Massoretic text has a long and interesting history. Its name is derived from a word, Massora (tradition), that reminds us of the accumulated traditions and criticisms relating to numerous passages of the text, and of the manner in which it was to be read, all which were finally committed to writing, and the ultimate result of which is the text of which we have been speaking. That the formation of the written Massora was a work of time seems a probable and reasonable supposition. A very competent writer {50} tells us that this formation may have extended from the sixth or seventh to the tenth or eleventh century. From the end of this Massoretic period onward the same writer tells us that the Massora became the great authority by which the text given in all the Jewish manuscripts was settled. All our manuscripts, in a word, are Massoretic. Any that were not so were not used, and allowed to perish, or, as it has been thought, were destroyed as not being in strict accordance with the recognized standards. Whether we have sustained any real critical loss by the disappearance of the rejected manuscripts it is impossible to say. The fact only remains that we have no manuscript of any portion of the Old Testament certainly known to be of a date prior to A.D. 916. The Massora, it may be mentioned, appears in two forms--the _Massora parva_ and the _Massora magna_. The former contains the really valuable portion of the great work, viz., the variation technically named K'ri (_read_), and placed in the margin of the Hebrew Bibles. This was to be substituted for the corresponding portion in the text technically named C'thib (_written_), and was regarded by the Massoretes themselves as the true reading. The _Massora magna_ contained the above, and other matter deemed to be of importance in reference to the interpretation of the text.

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