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-   -   Hebrew Masoritic Text Editions - Which is Best? (https://av1611.com/forums/showthread.php?t=347)

Buythetruth 06-20-2008 08:53 PM

Hebrew Masoritic Text Editions - Which is Best?
A key ingredient to me in the Bible Versions Equation is the Old Testament Hebrew Masoritic Text. It seems the controversy can be focused on the edition used in the New King James Version. Bible scholars claim the New King James Version uses the Hebrew Masoritic Text, without explaining which edition they use, the Ben Chayyim or the Ben Asher editions. Dr. Waite says the New King James Version uses the Ben Asher. So says Gail Riplinger, I believe. I think a good explanation is needed at this time explaning the differences between the former Ben Chayyim and the Ben Asher edition. Why the change and what is wrong with the change. I realize The Ben Asher uses the Leningrad Manuscript (B19a or "L.") Does anyone know a difinitive answer? Of the hundreds of books I have, I have no extensive or conclusive answer. I believe the truth here is not being examined properly or maybe explained enough, at least to satisfy the inquisitive mind. There really should be a concise conclusion to aviod a gaping hole. Can anyone assist in this endevour?

Steven Avery 06-21-2008 06:16 PM

Hi Buythetruth,

The problems in the modern versions in the Old Testament are generally of two types.

1) inferior translation

2) use of Greek, Aramaic, Chaldee, and other sources to emend or 'correct' or somehow change the Masoretic Text or its historically accepted understanding

While the Ben Hayim is superior to the Ben Asher, they are both Masoretic texts, a realm with a fairly well standardized text. So I will share that the degree of difference is far less than some seem to imply. (I've seen counts of nine significant phrase differences, however the modus operandi of variant counts has no standard.) This is one of my main concerns with King James Bible modern book scholarship, the possible implication that there are huge differences in these texts, deliberate or accidental.

The Ben Hayim is far superior in consistency on Tetragram vowel pointing than, e.g. the Leningrad text. However, while significant, that is relevant mainly for the 'Jehovah' vs. pretender name discussions.

The translation problems in the modern versions are huge, I like to give Jeremiah 8:8 as a good example (where the translation error is taken up by skeptics and islamists and lds and all sorts of folks hostile to the pure and perfect Bible). In many cases you will find that the better Jewish translations and the King James Bible are in agreement against the modern versions, including Jeremiah 8:8. The King James Bible translators were excellent in Hebrew and Aramaic translation, and were well acquainted with the works of the Hebraicists like Kimchi and Rashi. Today's translators seemed to be skilled more at looking at a lexicon than reading, speaking, living, breathing and understanding the Biblical languages. Rarely do I find a reference to even the mikra'ot gadalot from the modern translation scholars, which is still today the foundational Hebraic scholarship source.

Returning to the current situation.

While Will Kinney has excellently compiled articles on many translation blunders in the modern versions. John Hinton has done fine scholarly work showing the modern version stupidity leaving the Masoretic text for cognate language conjectures.

By making an artificially inflated case against the Ben Asher text (examples not given, as you seem to have noted) the true modern version OT blunders and errors, as documented e.g. by Will Kinney, are not given their proper due in most King James Bible literature. Also scholarly aptitude and savvy may be questioned if an author leaves you vague and uncertain on this question.

Anyway, that is my short answer for now :) .

Some of the very best quality material is on the net. This is similar to the New Testament situation where Brandon's Magic Marker page is probably the best single presentation of alexandrian-based modern version tampering.


Buythetruth 06-21-2008 07:19 PM

Hello Steven
Thank you for your take on this subject. I will have to ponder some of what you said although it is very good. Really all I have found so far is what Gail Riplinger says about Kittel's influence on the Ben Asher itself. Off the top of my head I believe I remember her refering to thousands of footnotes by Killel in "his Bible." The Ben Asher edition took the place of the Ben Chayyim in 1937 according to her research. This is significant, as it was during the time of German Rationalism and the 'conditioning' of the German people to accept the atrocities of the Government at that time of anti-Semitism. We know what followed. Refrence in her studies is made to the "corruptness" of the Ben Asher itself (along with "L",) so I have difficulty in reconciling these things together - for lack of details. What is corrupt; why was there a change from a very good edition with a lond and successful history, to an edition some say is faulty?

Dr. Waite states the change also from one edition to another and also mentions corruptness, but no real detailed answers of substance of any length. I have talked with him on the phone and I appreciated his answers, but found them unsatisfying to me to some degree. Maybe I'm looking for too much - and it may not be available.

I have not found anything from any other KJB believer on this subject, but hopefully somthing will be forthcoming. There are many very qualified participants on this forum who contribute their vast knowledge very skillfully in so many areas - maybe someone has additional information.

I know you answered some of this but I guess I'm still unsettled and with lagging questions. I really appreciate your short answer, and again I will ponder it carefully. Your input is greatly appreciated.

God bless.

Buythetruth 06-21-2008 09:20 PM

Thanks Steven,
I believe I understand all that you have explained to me. I will look more diligently on the net and check back here often for more info.

Lord bless,

Steven Avery 06-22-2008 09:05 PM

Hi Folks,


Originally Posted by Buythetruth
Thanks Steven, I believe I understand all that you have explained to me. I will look more diligently on the net and check back here often for more info. Lord bless, Buythetruth


Now I am not trying to give the impression that there are a lot of good answers to your question on the net. It is sort of a void-land. However what is on the net is the exposing of the blunders, errors, wrong textual choices, tampering and mistranslations in the modern versions, as explained especially by Will Kinney "one verse at a time" :). (Sometimes 2,3,4, or 5 at a time). And John Hinton, with his special language expertise.

A while back I did have one thread about the Joshua 21:36-37 section, where some Hebrew texts improperly lack the two verses. It is an interesting study, the Ben Asher is flat-out wrong, while the Ben Hayim I saw has an excellent margin note that was likely taken to heart by the King James Bible translators. As the Ben Hayim actual text is deficient. The critic didn't know about the margin note so he was claiming that the King James Bible translators were using this or that instead. And a European scholar sent me the pic.

You have actually touched on a topic that can make me a smidgen hot towards some pro-King James Bible book writers. The first question that should come to mind if you claim that doctrine or rebellion affected scripture is ... (where). With Westcott and Hort and the modern textcrit gang you can demonstrate (where) very easily all over the NT. Although I usually prefer to emphasize textual corruption rather than the textcrit's (spiritual) corruption.

Even if Gerhard Kittel was a comparable spiritual disaster, and the German school apostasy led to embracing the Ben Asher for the BHS text instead of staying with the superior Ben Hayim text (which I believe was used in Kittel's first two editions) any textual shenanigans is simply not on the level implied by some writers, in fact it is small. The Masoretic Text is too accepted in some circles to be liable to gross and crass tampering.

There are scholars who would like to decimate the Tanach (OT) text in a similar fashion as the textual apostasy of Westcott & Hort. Some years back Emanuel Tov talked (in BAR) about fashioning a new OT text rounding up the usual suspects (these could include Greek MSS, DSS variants, Targumim, Latin and Aramaic texts, and probably the infamous Ugaritic and Akkadian and Arabian cognates, along with anything else in the kitchen sink). However the religious Jews would give that no quarter, and Bible-believing Christians know the Reformation & Hebrew-Aramaic Masoretic --> King James Bible is the true Bible. Even some non-KJB folks know the first part of the equation. So that idea has not gotten far, I even had a little chat about it with Professor Lawrence Schiffman when he was speaking here. Schiffman, as an Orthodox Jew, who essentially accepts the Masoretic Text Bible as the D'var Elohim, the word of God (albeit not as fully as we do, ie. leaving a bit of scribal fudge possibly in the pan on the 'hard cases') would not go along with such an idea. And Professor Schiffman indicated that the idea had not gotten anywhere; and he felt that Tov was a bit more sensible today.


Buythetruth 06-22-2008 09:43 PM

Thanks again Steven,
You are suggesting evidence confirming my questioning interest. I did read somewhere that the Vatican endorses the Ben Asher, not that that is of any import. My two questions stand as valid since some make an issue of the text. We focus on the New Testament and rightly so, with Westcott and Hort's shenanigens and the proof text comparrisons. But I think questions of the O.T. should be answered too as best we possibility can. When the Messoritic Text is mentioned, which edition is refered to? Do we really need to know. I want to cover all the bases needed.

Thanks for your continued input and expert answers.

God bless,

Steven Avery 06-23-2008 03:08 AM

Hi Folks,



Originally Posted by Buythetruth
Thanks again Steven, You are suggesting evidence confirming my questioning interest. I did read somewhere that the Vatican endorses the Ben Asher, not that that is of any import.

Right, for three reasons.

1) RCC language is tricky, and I have never heard of such an endorsement, other than use. They use the Ben Asher Masoretic (through BHS) in some recent translations rather than the Vulgate Old Testament. That would include the Jerusalem Bible in 1966 and the New Jerusalem in 1985 and the New American Bible. However that would be "par for the course" for modern scholarship, neither here nor there.

2) A stopped clock is right twice a day. At times the RCC has endorsed the Johannine Comma as scripture, since the historic Latin Vulgate contained the heavenly witnesses verse (although today they publish many counter-Reformation modern versions without it). And on occasion the doofus textual liberals would try to use that correct RCC position against Bible believers. (Even there, some RCC endorsement was clouded by typical problems in language and papacy control.) The point is that you cannot automatically take the opposite textual view of the RCC, folks with that view could end up going to the Greek OT because they use the Hebrew ! (As an LXX-pushers could.) Even in the New Testament, the Vulgate, while grossly deficient and defeated in the Reformation Battle of the Bible, is vastly superior to the modern version alexandrian text. Thus it allies with the true text on the ending of Mark, the Pericope Adultera, the Johannine Comma and much more. We surely would not want to fight the resurrection accounts of Mark as scripture because the Vulgate properly has the twelve verses ! God forbid !

3) The Masoretic Text would be a step forward for the RCC. Before that they had Jerome's Vulgate which was a Latin translation of an early Masoretic-type text. While one of many early confirmations of the Hebrew text, and far superior to the Byzantine Greek-based OT, the version was lacking in many ways. Also the RCC had gotten used to translating through the Latin for their doctrine, tampering as in Genesis 3:15, harder for them to do from the Hebrew.


Originally Posted by Buythetruth
... We focus on the New Testament and rightly so, with Westcott and Hort's shenanigens and the proof text comparrisons.

Well, I am sharing that the OT focus is also necessary and proper, and mentioned Will Kinney and John Hinton as two authors who have done so. The problem is that the focus is diverted if an implied major corruption -- isn't. There are tons of errors and corruptions in modern version OTs that deserve more exposure, however ad hominem articles against Gerhard Kittel (even if the gist of them are true as to his views and history) is diversionary. We need skilled scholarship in OT comparisons of the pure King James Bible and the corrupt and wild various counterfeit versions. The reason I say diversionary is that the German higher criticism schools, with their false and liberal doctrines, and along with the NT textual apostasy, have not really modified the source Hebrew-Aramaic Masoretic Text very much. It is time for that to be acknowledged by King James Bible authors. (While still defending and explaining the Ben Hayim, you can acknowledge that the differences are relatively small).

The real problems in modern version OTs are almost entirely :

1) inferior translation (lack of Hebraic savvy, lack of belief in the truth and accuracy of the text, general lack of skill and insight, translating to doctrine rather than text, logical errors)

2) leaving the Masoretic Text for this and that, on nonsensical and fanciful conjectures. This varies a lot from version to version, the Jewish versions being the most faithful, along with the King James Version. The Jewish versions have the problem of translational tampering away from Messianic understandings.

3) numerical tampering, emendations etc. They will change the text even without support. This is an offshoot of (2) except that (2) implies some sort of external textual support.

(Oh, let's also add that the King James Bible is stylistically far superior to all the pretenders. Some versions try to maintain some of the cadence and majesty of the King James, and become pale pretenders, others lose it altogether.)

What is emphasized as the problem (Ben Asher corrupt vs. Ben Hayim good) is vastly overblown, and that that is why you do not see the examples. For the most part, they simply do not exist.

Let's work on #1 and #2 and #3. And for the umpteenth time :) afaik only Will Kinney and John Hinton have done wide-ranging writings on Old Testament textual corruptions and shenanigans in the modern versions. Others have done well on focused issues (e.g. Thomas Strouse and Jeffrey Khoo on Psalm 12) yet even there, John Hinton offers new and significant elements.


Originally Posted by Buythetruth
... When the Masoretic Text is mentioned, which edition is refered to? Do we really need to know.

Yes, in a scholarly context. There are some differences. Even in casual conversation, it is proper to say "Masoretic Text, Ben Hayim"

(Also spelled Chayim, Chayyim, I like the simplified version, similar to Haim & Chaim, both used today for Hebrew names, the "H" is a gutteral "ch" sound).

Context is king. There may be times where you properly say just "Masoretic Text" eg. for simplicity when comparing our Bible to translating from the corrupt Greek.

I tend to say the edition. That is not my distance from some modern authors. It is good to seek to be precise. The problem is speaking and writing as if the differences are humongous when they are not, and diverting from the actual huge modern version corruptions by raising what can be seen as a pseudo-issue.


Buythetruth 06-23-2008 05:03 PM

Hello Steven,

Thans for your extensive and excellent answers. They did generate some other questions though.


RCC language is tricky, and I have never heard of such an endorsement, other than use.
I'm not entirely sure what you meant here - that they did in fact use it, but of the endorsement, you are unsure of? I also remember reading that the "Textus Receptus" has been on the RCC "forbidden book list" for generations and maybe still is. Well if that is so - the Old Testament has to be included - the Ben Hayim, or whenever it was edited by Ben Hayim and the TR before that.

Another titbit I heard from a lecture on a cassette tape was that the Jews do not use the Ben Asher - only the Ben Hayim. Don't know the validity of the claim though.

What I heard or read about Kittel was about the thousands of footnotes he added, perverting the original meaning of the text, kind of like the NKJV study Bible does. One becomes their own "textual critic," having to choose from various possibilities as to what the original said.

I have read many terrific articles by Will Kinney but not John Hinton. Could you point me to some that have been writtenby each of them that would be realted to the subject here?

Your material is greatly appreciated and has helped to clear considerable confusion from my understanding.

God bless,

PB1789 06-23-2008 06:07 PM

Good Posts Stephen Avery! :cool:

Buythetruth:--- Saw your post, and started doing the "google"...boy, there are many things out there in internet-land! I typed in some combinations of Ben Asher/Ben Chayim/Hebrew Masoretic texts, etc.. found this link:


I had another thought for you...If you live in or near a town/city large enough to have a jewish synagogue (Look in the yellow pages--then look for one that is "orthodox" or "conservative") and give the Rabbi a phone call. Offer to treat him to a coffee and a bagel some morning and ask him about which texts he uses. He may have some insights from a jewish perpsective that will be helpful to you. Hey--- if you treat him decently, he just might someday be willing to visit your church sometime...:). Honey, not vinegar.

{The "reformed" jewish synagogues are the liberals, so you might not get much solid information there.}

Another source would be the library at a nearby Christian College or Seminary. You can normally visit for free, and you might find neat "old" stuff in the basement...

Buythetruth 06-23-2008 06:40 PM

Great suggestions PB 1789,

I did a search last night and found some helpful things also, but thanks for the web site. Also, have thought about that very thing - a Jewish Rabbi - will certainly ponder that possibility. Meeting with a Jew this Friday night, so we'll see.

Thanks for the help,

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