Christian reading

Issue N35

answers for a jew, valeriy sterkh

Answers for a Jew

Why do the copies of the New Testament contain so many inconsistencies?

Question: Why is there only one Tanakh, but so many versions of the New Testament?

Answer: It would be more correct to say that there are differences in the ancient manuscripts of the New Testament. It is not correct to say that there are many versions of it. The differences in question are not essential or never present an unsolvable problem. Such minor differences are quite common for ancient texts, because old manuscripts were usually copied by hand, and small discrepancies were unavoidable. But the meaning of the New Testament is conveyed identically in all the manuscripts.

The existing version of Tanakh (the Masoretic text of the Old Testament) was finalized in more recent times. Approximately, around the second century. According to some scholars, the final version of Tanakh appeared around the 10th century. And, in the process of getting the final Masoretic text in a fixed form, the non-standard manuscripts were gradually destroyed. This is why we only have "one" version of the canonical Tanakh.

But the Masoretes did not succeed in destroying all the non-standard versions. When the Qumran scrolls were discovered, the existence of the so called proto-Masoretic versions of Tanah became indisputable. Unlike the Masoretic text, they don't use vowel and accent marks. And there are inconsistencies between them and the official text of the Tanakh. Also, there are significant differences between the Masoretic Pentateuch, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Septuagint-based translation of Pentateuch (mainly because of chronological discrepancies). This throws a serious doubt on the idealistic understanding of the present state of the Tanakh.

(to be continued)