Are the Hebrew Vowel-Points Inspired? De Moor Weighs-In

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
No the vowel pointings are not inspired, they were added in....middle ages??? Sometime in the last 2000 years I forget when.


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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Boston wrote something also on the vowel points didn't he?
Also, let the moderators moderate; otherwise we end up badgering members with multiple "you need a signature".
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
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John Gill devotes a good bit of attention to the question in "A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel Points, and Accents."
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Well the law and the prophets were written in a Phoenician style script before the Babylonian exile where they changed to an Aramaic style script that it is today...
 

brendanchatt

Puritan Board Freshman
, they were added in....middle ages??? Sometime in the last 2000 years I forget when.

I recall being taught they were added around the 600s, idk. AD , that is

To preserve the pronunciation

Idk what's valid, I just recall vaguely being taught that by my Hebrew professor


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Logan

Puritan Board Senior
that the Jot & Tittle are Inspired but not the the vowel points, seems an absurdity

If they were penned that way by the original authors, there would be no discussion. But the entire discussion revolves around whether the vowel points were added later in history (say A.D. 600) as the evidence would indicate (there appears to be no external evidence that ancient Hebrew had vowel points). And if they were, were they inspired at that point?

If I recall, Owen believed they had been added by Ezra.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
r th hbrw vwl-pnts nsprd? Clrly, ys.

There are two separate issues here.
1) were the Hebrew vowel points written in the original text?
Some people have argued that they were, and that all current ancient Hebrew manuscripts are therefore incomplete (see link in original post).
Most modern scholars (including all of the Reformed OT scholars I know) believe that the original manuscripts were unpointed (like modern Hebrew and the Dead Sea Scrolls) and that the current vowel points were added by the massoretes in the middle to late first millennium AD.

2) did the original text imply a certain (inspired) set of vowel points?
As Matthew notes, the lack of vowels does not mean that the consonants are infinitely plastic. The original authors had particular inspired words in mind that had vowels as well as consonants.

Where the rubber meets the road:
Not all sentences are as unequivocal as Matthew cited. Some could have more than one possible set of vowel points (though only one of these could be the original inspired meaning). In some cases, the greek translation of OT passages is clearly reading a different set of vowel points, just as in some cases it is reading a different set of consonants (including cases that concern jots and tittles, such as "Aram" vs "Edom"). In one instance I looked at just this week, in Genesis 14:5, the MT has beham ("in Ham") where the LXX has bahem ("among them").

If you think that the present massoretic vowel points represent the original vowel points perfectly, then you won't bother with textual criticism comparing the Leningrad codex (BHS main text) with the Septuagint (whatever you think that is). You may still have to do textual criticism amongst the different Hebrew manuscripts, though, and it is hard to explain why the vowels should be perfectly preserved where in some cases the consonants are open to question.

In most cases, both with vowel differences and consonantal differences, I would argue that the MT is correct. Different translations have different sympathies though: the RSV is much more Septuagint oriented, while the original NIV is distinctly more MT oriented. And the MT is clearly better preserved (i.e. there are less text critical questions, however you choose to resolve them) in some places than in others. The beginning of 1 Samuel is notoriously tricky, for example.

Probably more than you wanted to know, but I hope this clarifies things.
 

One Little Nail

Puritan Board Sophomore
that the Jot & Tittle are Inspired but not the the vowel points, seems an absurdity

If they were penned that way by the original authors, there would be no discussion. But the entire discussion revolves around whether the vowel points were added later in history (say A.D. 600) as the evidence would indicate (there appears to be no external evidence that ancient Hebrew had vowel points). And if they were, were they inspired at that point?

If I recall, Owen believed they had been added by Ezra.


I thought Owen argued for them in the Divine Original, though I could be mistaken, anyway Gill does. Christ's quote of the jot & tittle basically settles it (think necessary consequence here).

Matthews point is valid, as the Hebrew would be incomprehensible without them. The fact that they are present in the Transmitted copies would favour the case as well, would it not, nevertheless Ezra being a Prophet would have been guided by
The Holy Ghost so it would bring no aspersions upon the Text if this were so, though I doubt that he did, he may have been instrumental in getting the Levites to transcribe the Texts though, that seems more likely.
 
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