Did Ancient Jewish Worshipers Ever Make Changes to the "Holy' Scriptures?
Even more preposterous was the claim by the WT that the first language was Hebrew, that Adam spoke it, and , I think they claimed, that Adam knew how to write it !
Lets answer two points that are wrong:
1. Have the OT manuscripts been changed.
Likely. One only needs to compare the LXX to the Masoretic text to see this. While in the past many held the MT to be older now that is slowly falling away. Indeed the Septuagint is shorter in many places and besides that>>>>
2. The Torah predates written Hebrew language...WRONG! The oldest texts in the bible are from Judges 5 and Exodus 15 and possibly Psalms 45. The former two are in very old Hebrew predating 800 BCE but not going before 1000 BCE. The majority of the books from Genesis-2 Kings shows major Hellenistic influence from the beginning to the end. (Even the creation story in Genesis 2-3 is pulled not from the Epic of Gilgamesh but from Berosses Histories (which uses the Epic))
I will also mention that the Dead Sea scrolls community were a cult even weirder then Jehovah's Witnesses and their changes to any texts were more messianic and Apocalyptic then anything. The books of Enoch and Daniel were likely from that community.
As for Hebrew being the original language that is kind of laughable since the older languages are well known.
Another thing to consider is looking at the Dead Sea scrolls you’ll find a bunch of writting like the war scroll that is not in any bible but probably just as important to those people that hid it in the caves as any biblical writting.
Also one clear case of bible tampering is the book of Daniel, the original writtings have another chapter and also the story of Bel and the dragon which is not in the Bible now.
ps. I just remembered another example the 10 commandments. Read what they were before Moses broke them and then read what they are after he gets a new set from god and there is a change or two. Did this really happen in the story or did a scribe make a change or a mistake.
Hi, my name is Midge, and I’m a rabbi who was looking for and then found this resource because my nephew’s fallen in love with a Jehovah’s Witness and has decided he wants to marry the girl.
Yes, I know--the big “Oy!”
We will totally accept her, and everything. She’s really a great girl. Very pretty too. But the proselytizing--goodness, does it ever stop? Really? No?
From what I’ve been reading on here, the answer is no.
Anyway, my two cents on this subject here on the Scripture changes: this isn’t too much of a mystery or a surprise unless you’re a Gentile who’s been stuck in one of those Fundamentalist Christian religions all their lives that taught them that the Bible came down from Heaven, completed “as is,” literally dictated in one complete swoop. These groups also love to teach that the “earliest copies” are the most authentic and authoritative. Makes for a great movie with dazzling special effects, but realistic it is not.
Now I don’t have to tell any of you posting here, and especially any of you who have written anything of substance like a blog or a book, that your first draft of a writing is never, ever, EVER, the best and perfect encapsulation of what you are trying to say.
Especially if you have something authoritative to say, the first draft is always crap.
I gather from my brother’s son’s girlfriend (we’ll call her “Shirley” here, but that’s not her real name--definitely not Jewish, of course, but nevertheless “Shirley” to protect her real Jehovah’s Witness identity) that the Witnesses are very much into this “the earliest manuscripts are the most dependable texts” argument because Shirley squeezes this comment into every conceivable conversation you can think about, from moments when we’re out buying lipstick together and trying to find the just the right color, to my trying to share the family secret to making the perfect Jewish brisket--the kind that melts in your mouth and my nephew just loves his auntie Midge over. (I don’t know how Shirley does it, either. But she squeezed that subject into both activities. She really did. It’s weird.)
Any-who: unlike Shirley’s religion, Jew’s didn’t write and use the Scriptures to create something so we could have an authority on what was truth in religion or theology. We already had that: ourselves and our culture.
Our “truths” were not defined by what was written in scrolls (which would have been stupid because that would mean no one would have access to them--more on that in a second), but by what we taught ourselves through our parents, our teaches, our sages, our priests, and even our monarchs.
I have really tried to be welcoming and never insulting of Shirley’s views and convictions, but I once insulted Shirley unintentionally regarding what she believed. You see, she once showed me a Watchtower (or something her religion creates) that illustrated how the ancient Jews carefully read the Scriptures regularly. The illustration showed many Jews with many scrolls, and many of them going about reading these scrolls throughout the streets of Jerusalem, some of them going about with Scripture scrolls in their baskets, others reading together from these Bible scrolls to others at open home doorways.
I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. I just laughed and laughed and laughed. Look, I’m a rabbi. This was hogwash. They were not that many scrolls of the Jewish Scriptures available back in ancient times, and if there were then they were kept in a synagogue or other holy and special places. People didn’t go around carrying them in baskets, prancing around in the streets, knocking on doors, sharing thoughts from the Scriptures with their fellow Jews--who by the way already knew their Tanakh (the Jewish texts) by heart. They had to. LIteracy wasn’t that common either.
“You really believe this?” I asked with loud snort and a few hiccups, pointing at the Watchtower picture. Yes, all my lady-like features were gone. Belly laughs had overtaken me (I may have farted too). I mean, even the “Jews” in the picture looked like Gentiles with pasted beards on their faces, and women who idealized the Western facial features of what it meant to be feminine. Who paints these things? Mormons? (Don’t get me started on their pictures, now!)
Shirley did not speak with me for a week after that. (Am I a bad rabbi that I almost regret it was not longer?)
Anyway, the final word is that we Jews have always held the Scriptures in esteem, seen them as the word of God, but never saw them as the only theological authority and basis for doctrinal truth.
However, we did use them to save our culture from assimilation. You see, unlike cultures today which separate government from ideology or theology, all of those things were intertwined as one for all ancient tribes and nations. When the Jews found themselves in Babylonian exile they noticed that other nations and tribes that had been captured by Nebuchadnezzar had assimilated into Babylonian life and lost their previous identity and way of life. They knew this was going to be their fate if they did not do something to preserve themselves.
So they did something novel. They took a facet of their culture, namely their religion, and used it to make their culture “portable.” Since in ancient times culture and religion and national identity were one in the same, if you saved one then you saved the other. So the Jews mixed up their history into their religious mythology and their religious and cultural practice and incorporated it into something called Liturgy: formal public worship based on a schedule of annual reading of the Jewish texts.
This “portable” culture/religion was made possible by developing this annual weekly service, built around the Sabbath in which the Scriptures and Torah would be read each year, over and over again, highlighting special events in their culture as Holy Days. The texts were altered to fit into sections which would later be called “parashah.” The Scripture texts therefore began to take their shape during the exile in Babylon, but would not be fully fixed until the Jews could universally decide on the official make up of each parashah long after the exile came to an end.
This finally started to be settled around the 7th century C.E., and it was not until then that the Jews universally regarded the text as complete, fixed, and authoritative. This is the era, of course, of the Masoretes.
This is why Christians, when translating the Hebrew Scriptures, rely mainly on master texts based on the Masoretic text. While the LXX is consulted, and even the Dead Sea Scrolls are used for comparison, the final reading for the authoritative Christian Canon is the Masoretic text today. (Yes, I know. The Roman Catholic Church canonized the Vulgate, but much has changed since then. It now recognizes the Masoretic text. The Greek Orthodox Church, however, still recognizes the LXX as the authoritative text however.)
To conclude, it is the final product that is authoritative to Jews, not the earliest. Why? Well, again, how many of you have posted on here and looked back at your work and realized you made errors or left something out or perhaps you learned something new?
The Jewish Bible has been through something similar. Though considered the product of the God of Abraham to we who are Jews, it’s not the same “dictation” process that Shirley keeps trying to tell me it is while I explain gefilte fish to her. (Really, we Jews don’t talk religion all day. How do you turn the girl off? If she wants to marry my nephew, she’s got to stop with the witnessing and learn how to make a decent matzo ball or it's gonna be over real, real quick.)
Sometimes the prophets, for example, had students who added explanatory information their teachers had taught about their writings that the students would later add to copies of their master’s writings, but in the margins. After some generations these were moved into the actual text. At other times it seems various traditions were sewn together because of the need of the times, especially due to Babylonian exile, to keep the culture alive. And finally, by the time we got down to the Masoretic copyists, there was the need to make things fit for one of the major reasons the Jewish Bible existed in the first place: to be read in the Synagogue. So material had to be equalized into sections or parashah.
There. Now we have a finalized text. The authoritative one is the one that is all edited and perfected and ready to go out to everyone. At least that’s the way the Jews do it.
Sure, I know it seems backwards. But the way we read (right to left) seems backwards too.
I hope some of this might help in this discussion.
I also found what I was looking for on this site, namely that I shouldn’t expect much of Shirley except more of Shirley and her religion. Since we Jews don’t proselytize ourselves, all you can do is meet people where they are at. But if I get a chance I will drop by again. With my busy schedule it is not often at all that I ever get a moment to do something like this.
My phone is ringing. And would you believe it? It’s Shirley. I kid you not!
The ancient Hebrews who scribe their mythological expressions about their god did change their writings they also bullshitted over old bullshit to put it into layman terms.
Hey they were just ignorant men who were driven to create power and relevance to their specific god(YHWH), in similarity to other ancient civilizations of that era..
Rabbi Midge - "Yes, I know - the big 'Oy!'...”
Oy to the VEY, lady.
You're nephew's in for some "interesting times" (to paraphrase the ancient Chinese).
Good to have you here, BTW; genuine authentic religious scholars are always a welcome prescence.
For one thing, they tend to actually know WTF they're talking about.
Rabbi Midge - "...Jews didn’t write and use the Scriptures to create something so we could have an authority on what was truth in religion or theology. We already had that: ourselves and our culture."
Yeah, there's another fellow like you who comes here on occasion who once clarified that...
...that Jewish holy writings are based on the religion... not the other way 'round.
(You'd be gobsmacked at how many people don't/didn't know.)
Once he told us that, the fact that rabbis had throughout history had no problem with editing scripture made perfect sense (see my post on page one of this thread).
BTW, that WT pic showing 1st-Century Christians going door-to-door with bags of scrolls is definitely next-level cringeworthy.
I was still in when I first saw it, and I did a triple-take, 'cause even as a dutiful JW I knew it was iffy...