The Origins of the Samaritan Pentateuch

The Samaritans, adherents of a heterodox sect of Judaism who have worshipped and brought sacrifices on Mount Gerizim in Samaria since at least the 1st century BCE, possess their own version of the Torah that differs at various points from the Masoretic text (the version used by all other branches of Judaism). Examining the evidence from ancient manuscripts of the Bible discovered in the 20th century, Terry Giles speculates on the genesis of the Samaritan Pentateuch:

[Ancient] manuscript evidence, some of it dating back to the 3rd through 1st centuries BCE, indicates that the Samaritan Pentateuch is an extension of an earlier text-type, currently labeled the pre-Samaritan text, found in the Judean desert along with manuscripts of a version that would later become the Masoretic text and manuscripts similar to the Septuagint [the ancient Greek translation of the Bible]. The Samaritan Pentateuch provides an important witness to the early textual history of the first part of the Hebrew Bible. It was considered authoritative by at least some of the New Testament writers, and it remains the sacred text of the Samaritan community. . . .

The pre-Samaritan texts from the Judean desert are characterized by many of the editorial features found in the Samaritan Pentateuch (including . . . emphasis on the role of Moses and similar grammatical forms and spelling), but without the veneer of sectarian features favoring the Samaritan religious sect. The cumulative evidence points to the conclusion that the Samaritan Pentateuch is the product of a sectarian editing of the pre-Samaritan text-type, probably produced in the 1st century BCE through the 1st century CE.

Read more at Bible Odyssey

More about: History & Ideas, Masoretes, Samaria, Samaritans, Septuagint, Torah


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus