Bible Review 13:4, August 1997

The Leningrad Codex

Rediscovering the oldest complete Hebrew Bible

By James A. SandersAstrid Beck

Even though the city has changed its name back to St. Petersburg, the book is still called the Leningrad Codex. It’s the oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible in the world.

Since glasnost—remember that?—we have been able to photograph it using the latest equipment and photographic techniques and to prepare a new replica edition, which will soon be available. Scholars all over the world will be able to examine every “jot and tittle” (see Matthew 5:18)—or, more precisely, every yod (the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet) and tagin (the elegant crowns that grace some Hebrew letters in Torah scrolls). More than that, with the new photographs all the vowel pointings (nequdot) and tiny marginal notes (masorot) are visible and readable.

These photographs are already being used by the current revisers of the famous Biblia Hebraica, the scholarly edition of the Hebrew Bible that provides the standard text from which most translations are made and that also contains multiple variances found in different ancient manuscripts.

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