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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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Stephen Sewall praised the beauty of Hebrew particularly when it appeared, as in Richard Grey's pedagogical method, without Masoretic vowel points: "I was agreeably surprised to find a language, hitherto generally esteemed jejune, rough & uncouth, restored almost to its primitive beauty and uniformity" (Friedman 1948, 148).
(56) It is possible that, also in the biblical context, these two types of pluralities should be understood as emerging from two different (temporal) contexts: the "open source" model used at the earlier stages, when no central authority had yet emerged (or when it had collapsed, for whatever reason, as would have been the case after 586 BCE), and the "closed source" model taking place after a central text, such as the Masoretic text, had already been established.
Newton hoped to delineate the gradual emergence of postdiluvian civilization, based upon the "course of nature" and careful, yet imaginative, interpretations of pagan sources, all the while hoping to maintain the timeframe of the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Scriptures.
I am not saying the Masoretic pointing was necessarily correct, simply that it was either largely or at least a reasonable representative of an old tradition; in any event, the vocalization of such Semitic languages as were routinely written consonantally was part and parcel of their morphology, more so than many a language written alphabetically.
In translating the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, for example, most modern Bibles depend on the highly dubious Masoretic Text, created by scribes who were active from around 780 to 930 CE in modern-day northern Israel.
First, does the Septuagint translation of Proverbs present its own specific theology which differs from that of the Masoretic Text?
Secondly it draws into research done by Suzanne Haik-Ventoura into decoding the Tiberian (Masoretic) school of notation.
The contrast between the Masoretic text of Deuteronomy 26:8 and the Septuagint's translation (mid-3rd century B.C.E.) serves as a useful place to begin this inquiry.
The rabbis who compiled and handed on the official version of it in the so-called Masoretic Text, between the 6th and 10th centuries of the Common Era, counted the letters in each book, backwards and forwards, identifying both the number of characters and the middle one, to assure absolute fidelity of copying.
During the lives of Servetus and Bruno the following questions were all the focus of intense debate: whether Moses was the author of the Pentateuch; which was the more authentic text of the Bible, the Vulgate or the Masoretic; whether Christians should be baptized as infants or as adults; Trinitarianism versus Unitarianism; whether salvation was to be attained by faith or acts; and whether the earth moved around the sun or the sun moved around the earth.
Within Judaism the Masoretic text was considered final and authoritative.