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(məsō`rə) [Heb.,=tradition], collection of critical annotations made by Hebrew scholars, called the Masoretes, to establish the text of the Old Testament. A principal problem was to fix the vowels, as the Hebrew alphabet has only consonants. Through assiduous study the Masoretes formulated rules for an accurate reading of each verse, evolving a system of vowels and punctuation for the purpose of pronunciation and intonation. Two systems of vowels were evolved: the Tiberian (now in use), consisting of curves, dots, and dashes, which can be traced to the 7th cent.; and the Babylonian, of earlier origin, a more complicated superlinear system. The language of the Masora is mostly Aramaic, although some of the notes are written in Hebrew. The Masoretic compilation that consists of notes in the margins is called the Small, or Marginal, Masora; the one that consists of notes written at the top or the bottom of the text is known as the Great, or Final, Masora. Masoretic work was begun at an unknown time; the first traces of it appear in some halakic works on the Pentateuch. Innumerable scholars contributed to this work, which ceased c.1425.


See R. Gordis, Biblical Text in the Making (1937, repr. 1971); C. D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Masoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible (rev. ed. 1966).

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References in periodicals archive ?
This approach is not accepted by Maimonides, who lists Ezra and Malachi as separate people when tracing the transmission of the Masorah. See Kanievsky, Be-Sha'ar ha-Melekh, p.
Between Kelley's professional friendships and his seminars, he developed the reputation of being a leading scholar of the Masorah in the United States.
The result of Kelley's career-long interest in the Masorah was The Masorah of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
Baptists had previously shown little interest in the Masorah, much less produced a primer to the field.
Roberts, The Old Testament Text and Versions (Cardiff: University of Wales, 1951), 37; and, most comprehensively, Israel Yeivin, Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1980), 39-42.
Dotan, "Masorah," Encyclopedia Judaica 16 [1972], col.
(2.) Israel Yeivin, Introduction to the Tiberian Masorah (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1980) pp.
The chapters on Hazal are followed by Targumim, the Zohar, the Geonim, the spanish linguists, and the Ba'alei Masorah. Here one learns how translations are often forms of drash; that the Zohar, known anecdotally as a book of esoteric Jewish philosophy dealing with the "hidden" Torah, is actually a portion by portion commentary; how the spanish linguists tried to be pshat commentators; that it was the Ba'alei Masorah who formalized the reading and the intonations of the unadorned Torah script, thereby marrying pshat to drash, halachically.