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Rare Samaritan Bible Acquired by the Jewish Theological Seminary

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The Jewish Theological Seminary of American today announced that it came into possession of a 15th century manuscript of the Samaritan Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses. The manuscript is written in the Samaritan alphabet, an ancient form of the Hebrew alphabet, with a parallel translation into Arabic. The text is complete and well preserved.

“There are no printed translations of the complete Samaritan Pentateuch into Arabic, and this volume may well be the first of its kind available to scholars at an American institution of higher learning, “the announcement said. The 643-page manuscript was presented to the Seminary by Harold K. Cohen of Philadelphia, and Harry G. Friedman, Louis M. Rabinowitz and Julius Silver, of New York City, in memory of Doctor Alexander Marx, late Director of Libraries at the Seminary.

“The manuscript is an important source book for scholars, making available to the Samaritan specialist an uncommonly readable bi-lingual text,” the announcement pointed out. “Variations in the Samaritan Pentateuch are mainly linguistic, but one difference is worth noting: The last of the Ten Commandments contains an interpolation establishing Mt. Gerizim as the chosen spot for the alter, and Schechem (Nablus, today) as the Holy City for sacrificial offerings, rather than Jerusalem. Phrases such as ‘the hand of God’ are omitted from the Samaritan translation of the Pentateuch, and in their stead are more abstract terms such as, ‘the power of God.'”

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