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Tenach and dead sea scrolls

Rabbi Yoel LiebermanTishrei 6, 5775
316
Question
I was looking up the dead sea scrolls on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea_Scrolls#cite_ref-114 I came across this paragraph and wondered what you thought of the last sentence. According to The Oxford Companion to Archaeology: The biblical manuscripts from Qumran, which include at least fragments from every book of the Old Testament, except perhaps for the Book of Esther, provide a far older cross section of scriptural tradition than that available to scholars before. While some of the Qumran biblical manuscripts are nearly identical to the Masoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text of the Old Testament, some manuscripts of the books of Exodus and Samuel found in Cave Four exhibit dramatic differences in both language and content. In their astonishing range of textual variants, the Qumran biblical discoveries have prompted scholars to reconsider the once-accepted theories of the development of the modern biblical text from only three manuscript families: of the Masoretic text, of the Hebrew original of the Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100.[114] Do all 24 books of Tenach have the same text as they did when they were written? Kol Tuv
Answer
ב"ה ב"ה Shalom I have not read many scholarly articles on the subject, so I cannot attest to the accuracy of that which you read in Wikipedia. In general, archaeological findings are subject to different interpretations and there may be differences of opinion among historical scholars to whom are the aforementioned texts ascribed to. Were they Pharisee affiliated, were they secluded sects etc.? Therefore, there is always the question of how much consideration is to be given to these findings. However, as far as our tradition is concerned, the books we have in our possession today are the same books which have been handed down from generation to generation with an unbroken chain of transmission despite all the exiles and persecutions. The Rambam= Maimonides, stipulates as one of the thirteen principles of faith, that the entire Torah which we have now is that which was given to Moses. All the best wishes for a happy and healthy new year. Shana Tova and and gmar chatima tova.
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