Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Online Biblical Manuscripts and Editions

NB (update 27 April 2016): For the most updated form of this list, see:

The following is a collection most of the Hebrew biblical manuscripts I have found that are available online in digitized form. Following that are a number of Bible editions available online. I have also included some sites with information on how to obtain microfilms of manuscripts as well as a number of sites worthy of further consideration for occasional publication of biblical manuscripts. This catalogue should be viewed as a work in progress, and I will likely continue to update it when I find new manuscripts and editions. I have not been able to exhaust even the websites that I have found to date, but hopefully this list will be of service for those who want to do original research on primary sources online. Please post any additional sources you may be aware of in the comments, and I will probably incorporate them into the main catalogue.

Last updated 7 November 2013.

Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts

Aleppo Codex: The oldest complete manuscript of the entire Hebrew Bible, now with most of the Pentateuch and some other passages missing.
Leningrad Codex (1008 or 1009):
Berlin Codex:
Cairo Codex:
Eretz Israel Pentateuch (10th century):
Lisbon Bible (1482):
Prague Bible:
 Spanish Bible  or "Damascus Keter" (1260)::
Spanish Bible (1341):
Xanten Bible (1294):
Cambridge Add.652 (14th-15th cent.)
Samaritan Pentateuch Cambridge Add.1846

 Dead Sea Scrolls

Cairo Geniza Fragments:
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan

Nash Papyrus

The British Library is digitizing their collection of Hebrew manuscripts

The University of Madrid has a digitized Book of Joshua.

Greek Manuscripts

Codex M
Chester Beatty LXX papyri (Rahlfs 961-968, 2149, 2150)
Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Vaticanus


Rabbinic Bible:

Biblia Hebraica:
Ginsburg Hebrew Bible:
Early Critical Editions
Mechon Mamre:
Samaritan Pentateuch


Microfilmed Manuscripts
(this section has not been organized, but hopefully contains some helpful links and citations)

Department of Manuscripts & The Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library:

MIcrofiche Manuscript Collections:
Collective catalogue of Hebrew manuscripts - bibliographic records of all Hebrew MSS held in public and private collections around the world. Asian & African Studies Reading Room OIC 011.31
The Dead Sea Scrolls on microfiche. Leiden, 1993. ORB 40/260
The Allegro Qumran Collection - supplement to the above. OR Fiche 458
The Guenzburg manuscript collections - full text of 1,913 MSS from the Russian State Library, Moscow. OR.Mic.14119
  • Described in the List of the Guenzburg Manuscript Collection. Printout of the ALEPH catalogue records supplied by the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, JNUL. Jerusalem, 2000. 4 vols.
JTS manuscript collections - full text of manuscripts and rare books held at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York - Or.Mic.11693 (Adler collection); Or.Mic.13922 (Mishneh Torah); Or.Mic.11692 (Rare books); Or.Mic.11669 (Incunabula); Or. 13923 (Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic MSS), etc.
  • Described in JTS Hebrew manuscripts - brief descriptions of fourteen microfilm collections arranged in two volumes.
Sassoon manuscripts collection - full text of 1,281 manuscripts. Or.Mic. 2738-2893
  • Described in Sassoon, D. S. & Ohel David. Descriptive catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts in the Sassoon Library. Oxford, 1932, 2 vols.
Microfilm of manuscripts:
List of manuscript collections to further consider:

Other Potential Sources of Information
(some of these sources have additional manuscripts or other significant information, but I have not had time to exhaust and organize them all)

Consider St. Petersburg/Moscow/Firkowitch collection as well

Sharon Horowitz of the Library of Congress noted the following:
"Other digitized Hebrew Bibles include the Lisbon Bible (1700), Aleppo Codex, Prague Bible, Leningrad Codex, Spanish Bible 1260, Spanish Bible (1341), Xanten Bible.
The University of Madrid has a digitized Book of Joshua.
"You might also research Hebrew Bible fragments in the Cairo Geniza, much of which is being digitized in Cambridge, England.
(See the article:"Hebrew Bible Manuscripts in the Cairo Geniza"
Journal of Semitic Studies, 2005. (50:2))"
(Lisbon Bible)
(Prague Bible)
(Center for Online Judaic Studies; helpful links)

Madrid University Library:*spi?/tBiblia.+A.T.+Hebreo/tbiblia+a+t+hebreo/-3%2C-1%2C0%2CB/exact&FF=tbiblia+a+t+hebreo&1%2C27%2C
        Seforim Online reports:
"I have contacted the library and they informed that they have high-resolution images of all of their manuscripts and they will mail them on CD to anyone who requests them for a particular manuscript, as far as I understood, for free. However they are not putting them on the web. The contacts for this at the library are:
Pilar Moreno:
Tel. 34 91 394 6642
Fax. 34 91 394 6599
Marta Torres – Library Director:

French National Library in Paris:
Laurent HERICHER, Conservateur, Chef du service des manuscrits orientaux, said,"The BNF is in the process of digitizing its collections of manuscripts. As for Hebrew manuscripts, 65 have been digitized from microfilms. It is the very begining. The whole collection will be digitized mainly from the microfilms. Some manuscript will be digitized from the original. As for now, only 4 or five have been digitized from the original and can be consulted online. Precious,rare and important manuscript will be digitized from the original. That should not exceed thirty to fourty items.
"You can consult these manuscripts on Gallica BNF's Virtual library :
Select "manuscrits" in the research options and type the shelf mark : Hébreu 1333 (here is the permanent link to the document :
Manuscripts bearing the shelf mark Hebreu 1 to 65 plus Hébreu 1333, Hébreu 1388, Hébreu 113, Hébreu 1137, can be consulted so far on Gallica"

Search of blog posts on online manuscripts:

Munich Digitization Center (MDZ)

PDFs of Hebrew MSS, most not biblical:

List of MSS databases:

Austrian Library:

Historical Archive of Girona:

Catalogue of Hebrew manuscripts in the Vatican Library:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tendentious Paleographical Exegesis?

I have been reading Emanuel Tov's classic The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research (1981) and came across an interesting discussion he has on proposed tendentious paleographical exegesis in the Septuagint. The theory is that at times translators made paleographical decisions on how to read graphically similar letters based on exegetical concerns. Tov is rightly skeptical of such proposals. Two examples he uses will serve to illustrate the phenomenon:

Ps. 9:6
MT: אבדת רשע "you destroyed the wicked"
LXX: απωλετο ο ασεβης = אבד הרשע "the wicked perished"
Explanation: It has been proposed that the translator of the LXX of Psalms chose to read the text in this way because he wanted to avoid making God himself actively destroy the wicked. The graphic similarity of the letters ת/ה gave the freedom for the translator to divide the words differently and read the letter of his preferred reading. But elsewhere the LXX of Psalms has no problem with the idea of God personally destroying the wicked (Ps 5:6-7; 143[142]:12), so Tov rightly concludes that it is much more likely that this variant was extant in the Hebrew Vorlage of the LXX, or at least was an honest misreading by the translator, rather than an intentional rereading of the text for theological reasons.

Gen. 8:21 (and 3:17)
MT: בעבור האדם "because of man"
LXX: δια τα εργα των ανθρωπων = בעבוד(ת) האדם "because of the works of man"
Explanation: According to Tov, G. Bertram in TDNT argues that "the negative attitude of Hellen. Judaism to work decisively affects the text" in that the LXX deliberately read a ד instead of a ר to add an anti-work polemic into the text. Thus, the translator's background and exegesis influenced his choice on a difficult paleographical question to depart from his Vorlage. Tov again rightly rejects this proposal, insisting that it is far more likely to be an error in a Hebrew manuscript, or at worst an accidental misreading by the translator, possibly influenced by the context of the tilling of the ground and man's evil works before the Flood (both of which share the same root as the LXX here).

I would agree with Tov on both accounts. While I cannot completely rule out the possibility that the LXX translators would engage in some sort of intentional midrashic rereading of the text, I will remain skeptical of such proposals unless supported with strong circumstantial evidence. My experience with the LXX of Genesis has left me suspicious of suggestions that the LXX would engage in such an uncharacteristic method, especially when simpler explanations are readily available. More consistent patterns would have to be established to substantiate such theories, and though perhaps these can be discerned in other books, I find little evidence of it in Genesis. At this point, I would be inclined to say that theories of tendentious paleographical exegesis are the least likely of the three possibilities. Slightly more probable is the possibility that the translators may have accidentally misread their texts, though the meticulous care apparent in the versions and the likely necessity of double-checking one's translation still leaves this unlikely. I am inclined rather in the main to attribute variants easily explained on the basis of Hebrew paleography to variant Hebrew manuscripts.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Leviticus 1:17 and the Intersection between Textual Criticism and Linguistics

Robert Holmstedt has an interesting discussion on the blog Ancient Hebrew Grammar on the intersection between textual criticism and linguistics here. In particular, he argues that linguistic study of the use of demonstrative pronouns as non-verbal copulas in Hebrew may explain a textual variant in Leviticus 1:17.