From time to time the point is made that the Masoretes may have deliberately distorted some of their readings of the Hebrew in order to refute Christological interpretations of the Old Testament. A case in point, for example, may be Psalm 22/21 LXX (see What is the intended image of “pierced my hands and feet” in Psalm 22:16?)

I am sure many people can argue aptly for or against this position in their answers, but I am interested whether any Bible scholar, theologian or other such authority has ever published what they allege to be a collection of anti-Christian distortions in the Masoretic interpretation of the Hebrew.

Please note, I am not asking for people to answer whether such distortion did or did not take place. I am merely trying to find recognized, published works that contain some sort of objective analysis.

1 Answer 1


The work you are probably after is what is called a critical edition of the Hebrew Bible. The Biblia Hebraica Quinta is the latest (5th) edition of the Hebrew Masoretic Text based on the Leningrad Codex. It is a work in progress and is still being published. It was originally supposed to be finished a few years ago, but I guess they vastly underestimated the amount of work required because it's now estimated it wont be finished until 2020.

It contains the Masoertic Text with footnotes and a commentary discussing the textual issues surrounding each verse and any textual changes. The footnotes and commentary usually includes matters where the MT text differs from the Septuagint, the Vulgate, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Syriac etc. Each verse has symbols in the footnotes that indicate the changes, then there is a commentary apparatus that discusses them in more detail. So any issues surrounding textual criticism of the text in the manuscripts are recorded and commented on in the BHQ.

The previous 4th edition of the Leningrad Codex is already complete, called the the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. The problem is the apparatus is in Latin, the new version (BHQ) is in English. The 4th edition will be superseded when the BHQ is complete.

  • What I was looking for, though, was something that explicitly points out which of the differences are due to alleged deliberate distortions by the Masoretes. I had seen a partial list of these online a few years ago, but I can no longer find it.
    – user15733
    Sep 12, 2016 at 13:08
  • The difficulty is one could only ascertain that the Masoretes altered the text through comparison with the other, older available texts (i.e. the Septuagint and the DDS). One would then need to then make a case as to which text is responsible for the discrepancy. This is essentially what the BHQ (and all critical apparatuses of the Hebrew) are doing but on technical level. I'm not aware of a published work on the topic, it would be interesting but I would be wary of it unless it was using a critical apparatus to engage in the discussion.
    – L0ckz0r
    Sep 13, 2016 at 6:08
  • Textual criticism is a highly demanding field that few people in the world could even be qualified to train in. You need to know German, French, Italian, English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic just to get started in the training. I've been told most Textual Critics would come to know around 20 languages during their career.
    – L0ckz0r
    Sep 13, 2016 at 6:14
  • This pretty much rules out anyone who isn't educated in a European country where multi-lingual education is part of the curriculum from childhood. Then you have to whittle that group down to the top learners, then in that pool only a handful of people would even be interested in Textual Criticism. So not exactly a field with a lot of people who are going to be publishing works like that.
    – L0ckz0r
    Sep 13, 2016 at 6:14
  • the writings I have seen date from the Middle Ages themselves, not too long after the Masoretic Text was made available.
    – user15733
    Sep 13, 2016 at 15:41

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