The Schøyen Collection - MS 1630

The Schøyen Collection is comprised of many types of manuscripts from around the world and spanning over 5,000 years. It is the largest private manuscript collection produced in the 20th century. The whole collection, MSS 1-5381, contains 13,642 manuscript items, incorporated into 2,242 volumes. 6,850 manuscript items are from the ancient period, 3300 BC - 500 AD; 3,851 are from the medieval period, 500 - 1500; and 2,941 are post-medieval. There are manuscripts from 134 different countries and territories in 120 languages and 184 scripts. Never before has a collection like this been assembled. There is such variety, not only geographically, linguistically and textually but, also of scripts, writing materials, etc., and over such a great span of time as 5 millennia.

We show this document by kind courtesy of the 'The Schøyen Collection'.

The Hebrew language in ancient times was written without vowels making it difficult to know how to pronounce the words correctly. That is why one of the most important copyists, Ben Asher, developed a system in which dots and stripes were used to indicate which vowels must be pronounced.

The document we would like to show you now was written around the year 1000 and was found in present day Iraq. It is written on vellum, which is made of animal-skin. It looks very similar to the Leningrad Codex and the even older Aleppo Codex. This is why it is attributed to the Masoretic copyists of the Ben Asher school. It is written in very regular, clear, square-shaped characters and has vowel points. On the margins we find notes made by the Masoretic copyists.


This text contains the Bible portions of Amos 5:7 - 9:8; Zephaniah 13:7 - 14:21 and Malachi 1:1- 2:10. God's name is used often in these texts. It appears in its Hebrew form written as JHWH, also known as the tetragrammaton. God’s holy name was used very often by Amos in the warnings he proclaimed. For example, in Amos chapter 8 verse 11 it says:

"Behold, days come, saith the Lord Jehovah,
when I will send a famine in the land;
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of Jehovah.
(Darby Translation)


Places with God's name are highlighted in yellow (image below).



In this manuscript we notice something special with regards to the Divine Name. In the excerpt you can see four dots with four “yods” (the consonant “J”) above them. Experts tell us that this is very unusual. The four dots are seen before in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But, here they are written with four yods, as an indication for the reader not to utter the Divine Name. Jews were familiar with this custom, which was based on their superstitious fear of dishonouring the Divine Name. Ultimately, the superstition caused the name Jehovah or Jahweh to be replaced with titles like God or Lord. With this, the name of God faded into the background, and many today don’t know the Name of God. It is not common to see the Name written in Bibles today.




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