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