Authorship of the Johannine works
The authorship of the Johannine works—the Gospel of John, Epistles of John, the Book of Revelation—has been debated by scholars since at least the 2nd century AD. The main debate centers on who authored the writings, which of the writings, if any, can be ascribed to a common author. There may have been a single author for the three epistles. Tradition attributes all the books to John the Apostle. Most scholars agree that all three letters are written by the same author, although there is debate on who that author is. Although some scholars conclude the author of the epistles was different from that of the gospel, all four works originated from the same community and plausibly attributed to Ephesus, c. 90-110, but according to some scholars, from Syria. Some scholars, argue that the apostle John wrote none of these works, although others, notably J. A. T. Robinson, F. F. Bruce, Leon Morris, Martin Hengel hold the apostle to be behind at least some, in particular the gospel. In the case of Revelation, many modern scholars agree that it was written by a separate author, John of Patmos, c. 95 with some parts dating to Nero's reign in the early 60s.
While evidence regarding the author is slight, some scholars believe this gospel developed from a school or Johannine circle working at the end of the 1st century in Ephesus. Most 19th-century scholars denied historical value of the work basing their conclusions on seven particular theses: first, that the tradition of authorship by John the Apostle was created ex post facto to support the book's authority; some 19th-century scholars, agreed with the traditional authorship view. In favor of the historical and eyewitness character of the Gospel, a few passages are cited. John's chronology for the death of Jesus seems more realistic, because the Synoptic Gospels would have the trial before the Sanhedrin occurring on the first day of the Passover, a day of rest. Schonfield agrees that the Gospel was the product of the Apostle's great age, but further identifies him as the Beloved Disciple of the Last Supper, so believes that the Gospel is based on first hand witness, though decades and through the assistance of a younger follower and writer, which may account for the mixture of Hebraicisms and Greek idiom.
Fredriksen sees the Fourth Gospel's unique explanation for Jesus' arrest and crucifixion as the most plausible: "The priests' motivation is clear and commonsensical:'If we let go on.. The Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.' Caiaphas continues,'It is expedient that one man should die for the people, that the whole nation not perish'. Most scholars agree that all three letters are written by the same author, although there is debate on who that author is; these three epistles are similar in terminology and general situation. They may result from that gospel's theology; these epistles are accepted as deriving from the Johannine community in Asia Minor. Early references to the epistles, the organization of the church apparent in the text, the lack of reference to persecution suggests that they were written early in the 2nd century; the phraseology of the first letter of John is similar to that of the fourth gospel, so the question of its authorship is connected to the question of authorship of the gospel.
The two works use many of the same characteristic words and phrases, such as light, life, truth, a new commandment, to be of the truth, to do the truth and only begotten son. In both works, the same basic concepts are explored: the Word, the incarnation, the passing from death to life, the truth and lies, etc; the two works bear many stylistic affinities to one another. In the words of Amos Wilder, the works share "a combination of simplicity and elevation which differs from the flexible discourse of Paul and from the more concrete vocabulary and formal features of the Synoptic Gospels."Given the similarity with the Gospel, the "great majority" of critical scholars assign the same authorship to the epistle that they assign to the Gospel. At the end of the 19th century, scholar Ernest DeWitt Burton was able to write that, "the similarity in style and doctrine to the fourth gospel is, however, so marked that there can be no reasonable doubt that the letter and the gospel are from the same pen."
Starting with Heinrich Julius Holtzmann and continuing with C. H. Dodd, some scholars have maintained that the epistle and the gospel were written by different authors. There are at least two principal arguments for this view; the first is that the epistle uses a demonstrative pronoun at the beginning of a sentence a particle or conjunction, followed by an explanation or definition of the demonstrative at the end of the sentence, a stylistic technique, not used in the gospel. The second is that the author of the epistle, "uses the conditional sentence in a variety of rhetorical figures which are unknown to the gospel."The book was not among those whose canonicity was in doubt, according to Eusebius.
Textual criticism is a branch of textual scholarship and literary criticism, concerned with the identification of textual variants in either manuscripts or printed books. Scribes can make alterations. Given a manuscript copy, several or many copies, but not the original document, the textual critic might seek to reconstruct the original text as as possible; the same processes can be used to attempt to reconstruct intermediate versions, or recensions, of a document's transcription history. The objective of the textual critic's work is a better understanding of the creation and historical transmission of texts; this understanding may lead to the production of a "critical edition" containing a scholarly curated text. There are many approaches to textual criticism, notably eclecticism and copy-text editing. Quantitative techniques are used to determine the relationships between witnesses to a text, with methods from evolutionary biology appearing effective on a range of traditions. In some domains the phrase "lower criticism" is used to describe the contrast between textual criticism and "higher criticism", the endeavor to establish the authorship and place of composition of the original text.
Textual criticism has been practiced for over two thousand years. Early textual critics the librarians of Hellenistic Alexandria in the last two centuries BC, were concerned with preserving the works of antiquity, this continued through the medieval period into early modern times and the invention of the printing press. Textual criticism was an important aspect of the work of many Renaissance Humanists, such as Desiderius Erasmus, who edited the Greek New Testament, creating the Textus Receptus. In Italy, scholars such as Petrarch and Poggio Bracciolini collected and edited many Latin manuscripts, while a new spirit of critical enquiry was boosted by the attention to textual states, for example in the work of Lorenzo Valla on the purported Donation of Constantine. Many ancient works, such as the Bible and the Greek tragedies, survive in hundreds of copies, the relationship of each copy to the original may be unclear. Textual scholars have debated for centuries which sources are most derived from the original, hence which readings in those sources are correct.
Although biblical books that are letters, like Greek plays had one original, the question of whether some biblical books, like the Gospels had just one original has been discussed. Interest in applying textual criticism to the Quran has developed after the discovery of the Sana'a manuscripts in 1972, which date back to the 7–8th centuries. In the English language, the works of Shakespeare have been a fertile ground for textual criticism—both because the texts, as transmitted, contain a considerable amount of variation, because the effort and expense of producing superior editions of his works have always been viewed as worthwhile; the principles of textual criticism, although developed and refined for works of antiquity and the Bible, for Anglo-American Copy-Text editing, have been applied to many works, from contemporary texts to the earliest known written documents. Ranging from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt to the twentieth century, textual criticism covers a period of about five millennia.
The basic problem, as described by Paul Maas, is as follows: We have no autograph manuscripts of the Greek and Roman classical writers and no copies which have been collated with the originals. The business of textual criticism is to produce a text as close as possible to the original. Maas comments further that "A dictation revised by the author must be regarded as equivalent to an autograph manuscript"; the lack of autograph manuscripts applies to many cultures other than Greek and Roman. In such a situation, a key objective becomes the identification of the first exemplar before any split in the tradition; that exemplar is known as the archetype. "If we succeed in establishing the text of, the constitutio is advanced. The textual critic's ultimate objective is the production of a "critical edition"; this contains the text that the author has determined most approximates the original, is accompanied by an apparatus criticus or critical apparatus. The critical apparatus presents the author's work in three parts: first, a list or description of the evidence that the editor used.
Before mechanical printing, literature was copied by hand, many variations were introduced by copyists. The age of printing made the scribal profession redundant. Printed editions, while less susceptible to the proliferation of variations to arise during manual transmission, are nonetheless not immune to introducing variations from an author's autograph. Instead of a scribe miscopying his source, a compositor or a printing shop may read or typeset a work in a way that differs from the autograph. Since each scribe or printer commits different errors, reconstruction of the lost original is aided by a selection of readings taken from many sources. An edited text that draws from multiple sources is said to be eclectic. In contrast to this approach, some
Canonical criticism, sometimes called canon criticism or the canonical approach, is a way of interpreting the Bible that focuses on the text of the biblical canon itself as a finished product. Brevard Childs popularised this approach, though he rejected the term. Whereas other types of biblical criticism focus on the origins and history of texts, canonical criticism looks at the meaning which the overall text -in its final form - has for the community which uses it. Canonical criticism involves "paying attention to the present form of the text in determining its meaning for the believing community." According to James Barr, it involves concentrating authority "in the canonical text, not in the people or events out of which that text came." Brevard Childs says that the canon "not only serves to establish the outer boundaries of authoritative Scripture," but "forms a prism through which light from the different aspects of the Christian life is refracted." He notes that "the tradents of the tradition have sought to hide their own footprints in order to focus attention on the canonical text itself and not on the process."
However, Childs refuses to speak of canonical criticism as if it were on a level with form criticism or redaction criticism. According to Childs, it represents an new departure, replacing the entire historical-critical method. John H. Sailhamer views the "canonical approach" as including the "canon criticism" of Childs, as well as composition criticism, redaction criticism, text linguistics. Canonical criticism is a new approach to biblical studies; as as 1983, James Barr could state that canon had no hermeneutical significance for biblical interpretation. Childs set out his canonical approach in his Biblical Theology in Crisis and applied it in Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture; the phrase "canonical criticism" was first used by James A. Sanders in 1972. Childs repudiates the term because It implies that the concern with canon is viewed as another historical-critical technique which can take its place alongside of source criticism, form criticism, rhetorical criticism, the like.
I do not envision the approach to canon in this light. Rather, the issue at stake in canon turns on establishing a stance from which the Bible is to be read as Sacred Scripture. Canonical criticism arose as a reaction to other forms of biblical criticism. John Barton argues that Child's primary thesis is that historical-critical methods are "unsatisfactory theologically."According to Barton, Childs' approach is "genuinely new," in that it is an "attempt to heal the breach between biblical criticism and theology," and in that it belongs more to the realm of literary criticism than that of'historical' study of texts. Sanders argues that canonical criticism is biblical criticism's "self-critical stance": It is not only a logical evolution of earlier stages in the growth of criticism but it reflects back on all the disciplines of biblical criticism and informs them all to some extent." He suggests that it places the Bible "back where it belongs, in the believing communities of today": Canonical criticism might be seen in metaphor as the beadle who now carries the critically studied Bible in procession back to the church lectern from the scholar's study.
Barton has noted parallels between canonical criticism and the New Criticism of T. S. Eliot and others. Both schools of thought affirm that "a literary text is an artefact," that "intentionalism is a fallacy," and that "the meaning of a text is a function of its place in the literary canon." The canonical approach has been criticised by scholars from both liberal and evangelical perspectives. On the one hand, according to Dale Brueggemann, James Barr accuses Childs of "aiding and abetting" fundamentalists. Although Childs' approach is "post-critical" rather than pre-critical, Barr argues that the vision of a post-critical era "is the conservative dream." Barton, notes that Whatever else Childs is doing, he is not taking us'back to the canon', for no one has been aware of the canon in this way before. It is only after we have seen how varied and inconsistent the Old Testament is that we can begin to ask whether it can nonetheless be read as forming a unity. Conservative scholars, on the other hand, object to the way canonical criticism bypasses "vexed questions relating to the historical validation of revelation."
Oswalt suggests that canonical critics blithely "separate fact and meaning" when they suggest that we are called to submit to the inspired truth of the text, despite the community's inability to admit where they got it. Barton suggests that there is tension between "the text itself" and "the text as part of the canon"; that is, the canonical approach stresses both the text in its final form as we have it, as well as the idea that "the words which compose the text draw their meaning from the context and setting in which they are meant to be read." Barton argues that "the canonical approach undermines the concern for the finished text as an end in itself, brings us, once again, nearer to traditional historical criticism." Childs applies his canonical approach to prophetic literature, argues that in Amos, "an original prophetic message was expanded by being placed in a larger theological context," while in Nahum and Habakkuk, the oracles are assigned a new role through the introduction of hymnic material, they "now function as a dramatic illustration of the eschatological triumph of God."Jon Isaak applies the canonical approach to 1 Corinthians 14 and the issue of women being silent in the church.
Isaak argues that In the canonical approach, theological concerns take precedent over historical interests. No attempt is made to reconstruct a historical portrait of Paul i
Chapters and verses of the Bible
The Bible is a compilation of many shorter books written at different times by a variety of authors, assembled into the biblical canon. Since the early 13th century, most copies and editions of the Bible present all but the shortest of these books with divisions into chapters a page or so in length. Since the mid-16th century editors have further subdivided each chapter into verses - each consisting of a few short lines or sentences. Sometimes a sentence spans more than one verse, as in the case of Ephesians 2:8–9, sometimes there is more than one sentence in a single verse, as in the case of Genesis 1:2; as the chapter and verse divisions did not appear in the original texts, they form part of the paratext of the Bible. The Jewish divisions of the Hebrew text differ at various points from those used by Christians. For instance, in Jewish tradition, the ascriptions to many Psalms are regarded as independent verses or parts of the subsequent verses, making 116 more verses, whereas established Christian practice treats each Psalm ascription as independent and unnumbered.
Some chapter divisions occur in different places, e.g. Hebrew Bibles have 1 Chronicles 5:27–41 where Christian translations have 1 Chronicles 6:1–15. Early manuscripts of the biblical texts did not contain the chapter and verse divisions in the numbered form familiar to modern readers. In antiquity Hebrew texts were divided into paragraphs that were identified by two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Peh פ indicated an "open" paragraph that began on a new line, while Samekh ס indicated a "closed" paragraph that began on the same line after a small space; these two letters begin the Hebrew words open and closed, are, open פ and closed ס. The earliest known copies of the Book of Isaiah from the Dead Sea Scrolls used parashot divisions, although they differ from the Masoretic divisions; the Hebrew Bible was divided into some larger sections. In Israel the Torah were divided into 154 sections so that they could be read through aloud in weekly worship over the course of three years. In Babylonia it was divided into 54 sections so it could be read through in one year.
The New Testament was divided into topical sections known as kephalaia by the fourth century. Eusebius of Caesarea divided the gospels into parts that he listed in canons. Neither of these systems corresponds with modern chapter divisions. Chapter divisions, with titles, are found in the 9th century Tours manuscript, Paris Bibliothèque Nationale MS Lat. 3, the so-called Bible of Rorigo. Archbishop Stephen Langton and Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro developed different schemas for systematic division of the Bible in the early 13th century, it is the system of Archbishop Langton. While chapter divisions have become nearly universal, editions of the Bible have sometimes been published without them; such editions, which use thematic or literary criteria to divide the biblical books instead, include John Locke's Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, Alexander Campbell's The Sacred Writings, Daniel Berkeley Updike's fourteen-volume The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, Richard Moulton's The Modern Reader's Bible, Ernest Sutherland Bates's The Bible Designed to Be Read as Living Literature, The Books of the Bible from the International Bible Society, Adam Lewis Greene's five-volume Bibliotheca, the six-volume ESV Reader's Bible from Crossway Books.
Since at least 916 the Tanakh has contained an extensive system of multiple levels of section and phrasal divisions that were indicated in Masoretic vocalization and cantillation markings. One of the most frequent of these was a special type of punctuation, the sof passuq, symbol for a full stop or sentence break, resembling the colon of English and Latin orthography. With the advent of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into English, Old Testament versifications were made that correspond predominantly with the existing Hebrew full stops, with a few isolated exceptions. Most attribute these to Rabbi Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus's work for the first Hebrew Bible concordance around 1440; the first person to divide New Testament chapters into verses was Italian Dominican biblical scholar Santi Pagnini, but his system was never adopted. His verse divisions in the New Testament were far longer than those known today. Robert Estienne created an alternate numbering in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament, used in his 1553 publication of the Bible in French.
Estienne's system of division was adopted, it is this system, found in all modern Bibles. Estienne produced a 1555 Vulgate, the first Bible to include the verse numbers integrated into the text. Before this work, they were printed in the margins; the first English New Testament to use the verse divisions was a 1557 translation by William Whittingham. The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published shortly afterwards in 1560; these verse divisions soon gained acceptance as a standard way to notate verses, have since been used in nearly all English Bibles and the vast majority of those in other languages. (Nevertheless, some Bibles have removed the verse numbering, including the ones noted above that removed chapter numbers.
A biblical manuscript is any handwritten copy of a portion of the text of the Bible. Biblical manuscripts vary in size from tiny scrolls containing individual verses of the Jewish scriptures to huge polyglot codices containing both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, as well as extracanonical works; the study of biblical manuscripts is important because handwritten copies of books can contain errors. The science of textual criticism attempts to reconstruct the original text of books those published prior to the invention of the printing press; the Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex were once the oldest known Hebrew language manuscripts of the Tanakh. In 1947 CE the finding of the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran pushed the manuscript history of the Tanakh back a millennium from the two earliest complete codices. Before this discovery, the earliest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament were in Greek in manuscripts such as Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Out of the 800 manuscripts found at Qumran, 220 are from the Tanakh.
Every book of the Tanakh is represented except for the Book of Esther. Notably, there are two scrolls of the Book of Isaiah, one complete, one around 75% complete; these manuscripts date between 150 BCE to 70 CE. The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work of literature, with over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts catalogued, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Gothic, Ethiopic and Armenian; the dates of these manuscripts range from c. 125 to the introduction of printing in Germany in the 15th century. In monasteries, a manuscript cache was little more than a former manuscript recycling centre, where imperfect and incomplete copies of manuscripts were stored while the monastery or scriptorium decided what to do with them. There were several options; the first was to "wash" the manuscript and reuse it. Such reused manuscripts were called palimpsests and were common in the ancient world until the Middle Ages.
One notable palimpsest is the Archimedes Palimpsest. If not done within a short period of time after the papyri was made, washing it was less since the papyri might deteriorate and thus be unusable; when washing was no longer an option, the second choice was burning. Since the manuscripts contained the words of Christ, they were thought to have had a level of sanctity; the third option was to leave them in. When scholars come across manuscript caches, such as at Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, or Saint Sabbas Monastery outside Bethlehem, they are finding not libraries but storehouses of rejected texts sometimes kept in boxes or back shelves in libraries due to space constraints; the texts were unacceptable because of their scribal errors and contain corrections inside the lines evidence that monastery scribes compared them to a master text. In addition, texts thought to be complete and correct but that had deteriorated from heavy usage or had missing folios would be placed in the caches.
Once in a cache and humidity would contribute to the continued deterioration of the documents. Complete and correctly-copied texts would be placed in use and so wore out quickly, which required frequent recopying. Manuscript copying was costly when it required a scribe's attention for extended periods so a manuscript might be made only when it was commissioned; the size of the parchment, script used, any illustrations and whether it was one book or a collection of several would be determined by the one commissioning the work. Stocking extra copies would have been considered wasteful and unnecessary since the form and the presentation of a manuscript were customized to the aesthetic tastes of the buyer. Due to the prevalence of manuscript caches, scholars today are more to find incomplete and sometimes conflicting segments of manuscripts rather than complete and consistent works; the task of copying manuscripts was done by scribes who were trained professionals in the arts of writing and bookmaking.
Some manuscripts were proofread, scholars examining a text can sometimes find the original and corrections found in certain manuscripts. In the 6th century, a special room devoted to the practice of manuscript writing and illumination called the scriptorium came into use inside medieval European monasteries. Sometimes a group of scribes would make copies at the same time as one individual read from the text. An important issue with manuscripts is preservation; the earliest New Testament manuscripts were written on papyrus, made from a reed that grew abundantly in the Nile Delta. This tradition continued as late as the 8th century. Papyrus becomes brittle and deteriorates with age; the dry climate of Egypt allowed some papyrus manuscripts to be preserved, with the exception of P 77, no New Testament papyrus manuscript is complete. Beginning in the fourth century, parchment began to be a common medium for New Testament manuscripts, it wasn't until the twelfth century that paper, inve
A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts which a particular religious community regards as authoritative scripture. The English word "canon" comes from the Greek κανών, meaning "rule" or "measuring stick". Christians became the first to use the term in reference to scripture, but Eugene Ulrich regards the idea as Jewish. Most of the canons listed below are considered by adherents "closed", reflecting a belief that public revelation has ended and thus some person or persons can gather approved inspired texts into a complete and authoritative canon, which scholar Bruce Metzger defines as "an authoritative collection of books". In contrast, an "open canon", which permits the addition of books through the process of continuous revelation, Metzger defines as "a collection of authoritative books"; these canons have developed through debate and agreement on the part of the religious authorities of their respective faiths and denominations. Believers consider canonical books as inspired by God or as expressive of the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people.
Some books, such as the Jewish-Christian gospels, have been excluded from various canons altogether, but many disputed books—considered non-canonical or apocryphal by some—are considered to be Biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical or canonical by others. Differences exist between the Jewish Tanakh and Christian biblical canons, although the Jewish Tanakh did form the basis for the Christian Old Testament, between the canons of different Christian denominations. In some cases where varying strata of scriptural inspiration have accumulated, it becomes prudent to discuss texts that only have an elevated status within a particular tradition; this becomes more complex when considering the open canons of the various Latter Day Saint sects—which are viewed as divergent from biblical Christianity —and the scriptural revelations purportedly given to several leaders over the years within that movement. Rabbinic Judaism recognizes the twenty-four books of the Masoretic Text called the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible.
Evidence suggests that the process of canonization occurred between 200 BC and 200 AD, a popular position is that the Torah was canonized c. 400 BC, the Prophets c. 200 BC, the Writings c. 100 AD at a hypothetical Council of Jamnia—however, this position is criticised by modern scholars. According to Marc Zvi Brettler, the Jewish scriptures outside the Torah and the Prophets were fluid, different groups seeing authority in different books; the book of Deuteronomy includes a prohibition against adding or subtracting which might apply to the book itself or to the instruction received by Moses on Mt. Sinai; the book of 2 Maccabees, itself not a part of the Jewish canon, describes Nehemiah as having "founded a library and collected books about the kings and prophets, the writings of David, letters of kings about votive offerings". The Book of Nehemiah suggests that the priest-scribe Ezra brought the Torah back from Babylon to Jerusalem and the Second Temple around the same time period. Both I and II Maccabees suggest that Judas Maccabeus collected sacred books, indeed some scholars argue that the Jewish canon was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty.
However, these primary sources do not suggest. The Great Assembly known as the Great Synagogue, according to Jewish tradition, an assembly of 120 scribes and prophets, in the period from the end of the Biblical prophets to the time of the development of Rabbinic Judaism, marking a transition from an era of prophets to an era of Rabbis, they lived in a period of about two centuries ending c. 70 AD. Among the developments in Judaism that are attributed to them are the fixing of the Jewish Biblical canon, including the books of Ezekiel, Daniel and the Twelve Minor Prophets. In addition to the Tanakh, mainstream Rabbinic Judaism considers the Talmud to be another central, authoritative text, it takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, philosophy and history. The Talmud has two components: the first written compendium of Judaism's oral Law. There are numerous citations of Sirach within the Talmud though the book was not accepted into the Hebrew canon; the Talmud is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is quoted in other rabbinic literature.
Certain groups of Jews, such as the Karaites, do not accept the oral Law as it is codified in the Talmud and only consider the Tanakh to be authoritative. Ethiopian Jews—also known as Beta Israel —possess a canon of scripture, distinct from Rabbinic Judaism. Mäṣḥafä Kedus is the name for the religious literature of these Jews, written in Ge'ez, their holiest book, the Orit, consists of the Pentateuch, as well as Joshua and Ruth. The rest of th
The Samaritan Pentateuch known as the Samaritan Torah, is a text of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, written in the Samaritan alphabet and used as scripture by the Samaritans. It constitutes their entire biblical canon; some six thousand differences exist between the Masoretic Text. Most are minor variations in the spelling of words or grammatical constructions, but others involve significant semantic changes, such as the uniquely Samaritan commandment to construct an altar on Mount Gerizim. Nearly two thousand of these textual variations agree with the Koine Greek Septuagint and some are shared with the Latin Vulgate. Throughout their history, Samaritans have made use of translations of the Samaritan Pentateuch into Aramaic and Arabic as well as liturgical and exegetical works based upon it, it first became known to the Western world in 1631, proving the first example of the Samaritan alphabet and sparking an intense theological debate regarding its relative age versus the Masoretic text.
This first published copy, much labelled as Codex B by August von Gall, became the source of most Western critical editions of the Samaritan Pentateuch until the latter half of the 20th century. Some Pentateuchal manuscripts discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls have been identified as bearing a "pre-Samaritan" text type. Wide agreement now exists among textual critics that the Samaritan Pentateuch represents an authentic ancient textual tradition despite the presence of some unique variants introduced by the Samaritans. Samaritans believe that God authored their Pentateuch and gave Moses the first copy along with the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments, they believe. Samaritans refer to their Pentateuch as קושטה. Samaritans include only the Pentateuch in their biblical canon, they do not recognize divine inspiration in any other book in the Jewish Tanakh. A Samaritan Book of Joshua based upon the Tanakh's Book of Joshua exists, but Samaritans regard it as a non-canonical secular historical chronicle.
According to a view based on the biblical Book of Ezra, the Samaritans are the people of Samaria who parted ways with the people of Judah in the Persian period. The Samaritans believe that it was not they, but the Jews, who separated from the authentic stream of Judaism, around the time of Eli, in the 11th century BCE. Jews have traditionally connected the origin of the Samaritans with the events described in 2 Kings 17:24–41 claiming that the Samaritans are not related to the Israelites, but to those brought to Samaria by the Assyrians. Modern scholarship connects the formation of the Samaritan community with events which followed the Babylonian Captivity. One view is that the Samaritans are the people of the Kingdom of Israel who separated from the Judaites. Another view is that the event happened somewhere around 432 BCE, when Manasseh, the son-in-law of Sanballat, went off to found a community in Samaria, as related in Nehemiah 13:28 and Josephus. Josephus himself, dates this event and the building of the temple at Shechem to the time of Alexander the Great.
Others believe that the real schism between the peoples did not take place until Hasmonean times when the Gerizim temple was destroyed in 128 BCE by John Hyrcanus. The script of the Samaritan Pentateuch, its close connections at many points with the Septuagint, its closer agreements with the present Hebrew text, all suggest a date about 122 BCE. Excavation work undertaken since 1982 by Yitzhak Magen has dated the temple structures on Gerizim to the middle of the 5th century, built by Sanballat the Horonite, a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, who lived more than one hundred years before the Sanballat, mentioned by Josephus; the adoption of the Pentateuch as the sacred text of the Samaritans before their final schism with the Palestinian Jewish community provides evidence that it was widely accepted as a canonical authority in that region. Manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch are written in a different Hebrew script than is used in other Hebrew Pentateuchs. Samaritans employ the Samaritan alphabet, derived from the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet used by the Israelite community prior to the Babylonian captivity.
Afterwards, Jews adopted a script based on the Aramaic alphabet that developed into the Hebrew alphabet. All manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch consisted of unvocalized text written using only the letters of the Samaritan alphabet. Beginning in the 12th century, some manuscripts show a partial vocalization resembling the Jewish Tiberian vocalization used in Masoretic manuscripts. More a few manuscripts have been produced with full vocalization. However, many extant manuscripts show no tendency towards vocalization; the Pentateuchal text is divided into 904 paragraphs. Divisions between sections of text are marked with various combinations of lines, dots or an asterisk; the critical apparatus accompanying the London Polyglot's publication of the Samaritan Pentateuch lists six thousand instances where the Samaritan differs from the Masoretic Text. However, as different printed editions of the Samaritan Pentateuch are based upon different sets of manuscripts, the precise number varies from one edition to another.
Only a minority are significant. Loss of the gutturals in spoken Samaritan Hebrew influenced how Samaritan scribes transcribed