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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Samaritan Pentateuch

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The collection of the five books of Moses, written in Samaritan or Phoenician characters; and, according to some, the ancient Hebrew characters which were in use before the captivity of Babylon. This Pentateuch was unknown in Europe till the seventeenth century, though quoted by Eusebius, Jerome, &c. Archbishop Usher was the first, or at least among the first, who procured it out of the East, to the number of five or six copies. Pietro della Valle purchased a very neat copy at Damascus, in 1616, for M. de Sansi, then ambassador of France at Constantinople, and afterwards bishop of St. Malo. This book was presented to the Fathers of the Oratory of St. Honore, where perhaps it is still preserved; and from which father Morinus, in 1632, printed the first Samaritan Pentateuch, which stands in Le Jay's Polyglot, but more correctly in Walton's from three Samaritan manuscripts, which belonged to Usher. the generality of divines hold, that the Samaritan Pentateuch, and that of the Jews, are one and the same work, written in the same language, only in different characters; and that the difference between the two text is owing to the inadvertency and inaccuracy of transcribers, or to the affectation of the Samaritans, by interpolating what might promote their interests and pretensions; that the two copies were originally the very same, and that the additions were afterwards inserted.

And in this respect the Pentateuch of the Jews must be allowed the preference to that of the Samaritans; whereas others prefer the Samaritan as an original, preserved in the same character and the same condition in which Moses left it. The variations, additions, and transpositions which are found in the Samaritan Pentateuch, are carefully collected by Hottinger, and may be seen on confronting the two texts in the last volume of the English Polyglot, or by inspecting Kinnicott's edition of the Hebrew Bible, where the various readings are inserted. Some of these interpolations serve to illustrate the text; others are a kind of paraphrase, expressing at length what was only hinted at in the original; and others, again, such as favour their pretensions against the Jews; namely, the putting Gerizim for Ebal. Besides the Pentateuch in Phoenician characters, there is another in the language which was spoken at the time that Manasseh, first high priest of the temple of Gerizim, and son-in-law of Sanballat, governor of Samaria, under the king of Persia, took shelter among the Samaritans. The language of this last is a mixture of chaldee, Syriac, and Phoenician. It is called the Samaritan version, executed in favour of those who did not understand pure Hebrew; and is a literal translation, expressing the text word for word.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Samaritan Pentateuch'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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