ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Religion and Philosophy»
  • Christianity, the Bible & Jesus

Bible: Reviewing a Brief History of the Transmission of the Old Testament Text

Updated on August 21, 2016

The Text of Scripture


Inerrant Text Today?

Do you believe the text we have today is inerrant?

See results

Q. Do we today possess an inerrant Earlier Testament? Why or why not?

In the study known as textual or lower criticism, scholars compare many copies scientifically to discover (as close as humanly possible) what the original MSS (manuscripts) looked like.

Errors (scribal slips) have crept into the copies—for example, writing a word more than once when it should have been written only once (dittography), combining two words into one (fusion), omitting a line because of accidental skipping—but they can be easily corrected by using other copies.

God has marvelously guarded the transmission of the text, preserving it in such a way that, even though the copies themselves are not inerrant, no errors affect a single doctrine of Scripture (See Gleason Archer, Old Testament Introduction, 55-7).

The Isaiah Manuscript


View of Dead Sea From Qumran Cave


Example from the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS)

Copies of Isaiah discovered in 1947 in Qumran* Cave 1 (designated 1QIsaa+b—the first discovered or most important MSS found) were more than one thousand years earlier than the oldest Isaiah MS previously known (A.D. 980), yet were ninety-five percent identical with our standard Hebrew Bible.

See the chart below. Spelling changes and slips of the pen account for the five percent variation.

*Qumran community—An ascetic clan, known as the Essenes, and founded by “the Teacher of Righteousness,” copied the Scriptures; all of the OT books are now represented among DSS. Qumran is the name of a wadi (a river channel, usually dry).

Dead Sea Scrolls
Before Dead Sea Scrolls
circa 700 B.C.
150-50 B.C.
A.D. 980 (standard)

Ezra the Scribe

  1. From composition to 400 B.C.

    1. The writers recorded books because they understood them to be authoritative (canonical; used to order lifestyles).

      See Deuteronomy 31:9-13, 24; Josh. 24:26; 1 Sam. 10:25; Jer. 36:2, 32.

    2. They penned only consonants, no vowels.

    3. Scribes made revisions; possibility of errors increased with increased number of copies made.

    4. The fall of Judah in 587 B.C. brought about the development of texttraditions in different geographical locations: Babylon, Egypt, and Palestine.

    5. Ezra the scribe (Ezra 7:6-11; Neh. 8) reintroduces the Babylonian text after this return.

      He prepares a revision after comparing it with the Palestinian text, and he gives preference to the Babylonian.

  1. From 400 B.C. until A.D. 70

    1. DSS reveal the existence of three text traditions

      1. Babylonian—The most conservative; fewest scribal errors; became the foundation of the standard text.

      2. Palestinian—Scribal glosses abound; the text is expanded to include explanations.

      3. Egyptian (Alexandrian)—Comprises a middle ground between the Babylonian and the Palestinian; eventuated in the Septuagint (LXX) in 200 B.C.

    2. The style of writing changes from the angular Hebrew to the square Aramaic.

Meticulous Scribes

view quiz statistics
  1. From A.D. 70 until A.D. 1000

    1. Standardization of the text occurs (A.D. 70-100) under the supervision of the Sopherim* (scribes).

      These men make up what might be described as an ancient Bible society.

    2. Vowel points were introduced in the text by the Masoretes* (A.D. 500-950

      *Scribes devoted to preservation and pronunciation; received the unpointed, consonantal text from the Sopherim and inserted vowel points which gave to each word its exact pronunciation and grammatical form.

A Jewish Torah Scribe

  1. From A.D. 1000 until the present

    1. Chapter-verse divisions occurred circa 1330.

    2. Versions of the Hebrew Bible (Kittel’s and later editions come from the Leningrad MS). [See Archer 43].

      *SopherimThese scribes counted all the verses, words, and letters of each book of the OT, and appended figures at the end of the book concerned.

      *MasoretesThese scholars gave the final form to the text of the Old Testament. Their name comes from masora—oral tradition.

      The standard text of the Hebrew Bible is based on the work of Ben Asher, a famous Masorete (Leningrad MS).

© 2014 glynch1


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 2 years ago

      Zondervan is a publishing company, not a book.

      Many people become accustomed to one particular version, and some influential teachers pressure them to be "King James" only Christians. King James is a fine translation, but I believe there are more readable works that are just as faithful to the extant texts.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I would figure God would have His way on this and the truth is always there. Through His spirit too we should be able to recognize the truth. I love books like Zondervan that gives a more thorough meaning and can't figure for the life of me why so may swear by King James although I do know there are many out there that do change or omit. A very bad thing to do.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)