None of those actual original manuscripts appear to still exist
today. In general, modern Bibles are all based on many copies
of the actual manuscripts, and very few of those copies are
older than about 1,000 years. See the BELIEVE presentation of
the Septuagint for an extensive discussion of the many specific
source targums and codices.
Romanized Bible Text
The original manuscripts which represented the Bible in ancient times are
believed to have been written in ancient Hebrew (Old Testament) and ancient
Greek (New Testament). Those alphabets use many letters which don't
exist in our modern alphabet. One way of creating a printable
version is the so called Romanized Text. To illustrate just
what this source material of the Bible is like, a portion of
Genesis is shown below in the Romanized form.
Finally, the actual translation of the Bible was complicated by
several extra facts. The original Ancient Hebrew in which the
Old Testament was first written, would have been written without
any vowels being recorded. For example, God was referred to
as JHWH in the Bible. When the Old Testament was translated
into Greek (in the Septuagint), vowels were added, to make
words that were meaningful in the Greek language. Since JHWH
was apparently unpronouncable, ancient people used several
other Names to refer to God, one of which was Adonai. The
vowels of this Name were inserted between the letters of JHWH
to create a Name we refer to as Jehovah.
Greek manuscripts were also somewhat difficult to translate,
because they were written with all letters the same size
and with no spaces between words or sentences.
There is another entry in BELIEVE which is the Literal
Translation of each of these words in the original sequence
shown here. You might want to look at that, too.
Bree'shiyt baaraa' 'Elohiym 'eet hashaamayim
Whaa'aarets haaytaah tohuu waabohuu wxoshek
`al - pneey thowm wruuxa 'Elohiym
mraxepet `al - pneey hamaayim.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym yhiy 'owr wayhiy - 'owr.
Wayar' 'Elohiym 'et - haa'owr kiy - Towb
wayabdeel 'Elohiym beeyn
haa'owr uubeeyn haxoshek.
Wayiqraa' 'Elohiym laa'owr yowm wlaxoshek
qaaraa' laaylaah wayhiy - `ereb wayhiy - boqer
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym yhiy raaqiy`a btowk hamaayim
wiyhiy mabdiyl beeyn mayim laamaayim.
Waya`as 'Elohiym 'et - haaraaqiy`a wayabdeel
beeyn hamayim 'asher mitaxat laaraaqiy`a
uubeeyn hamayim 'asher mee`al laaraaqiy`a
wayhiy - keen.
Wayiqraa' 'Elohiym laaraaqiy`a shaamaayim
wayhiy - `ereb wayhiy - boqer yowm sheeniy.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym yiqaawuu hamayim mitaxat
hashaamayim 'el - maaqowm 'exaad wteeraa'eh
hayabaashaah wayhiy - keen.
Wayiqraa' 'Elohiym layabaashaah 'erets
uulmiqweeh hamayim qaaraa' yamiym wayar'
'Elohiym kiy - Towb.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym tadshee' haa'aarets deshe'
`eeseb mazriy`a zera` `eets priy `oseh
priy lmiynow 'asher zar`ow - bow
`al - haa'aarets wayhiy - keen.
Watowtsee' haa'aarets deshe' `eeseb mazriy`a
zera` lmiyneehuu w`eets `oseh - priy
'asher zar`ow - bow lmiyneehuu wayar'
'Elohiym kiy - Towb.
Wayhiy - `ereb wayhiy - boqer yowm shliyshiy.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym yhiy m'orot birqiy`a
hashaamayim lhabdiyl beeyn hayowm
uubeeyn halaaylaah whaayuu l'otot
uulmow`adiym uulyaamiym wshaaniym.
Whaayuu lim'owrot birqiy`a hashaamayim
lhaa'iyr `al - haa'aarets wayhiy - keen.
Waya`as 'Elohiym 'et - shneey ham'orot
hagdoliym 'et - hamaa'owr hagaadol
lmemshelet hayowm w'et - hamaa'owr
haqaaTon lmemshelet halaylaah
Wayiteen 'otaam 'Elohiym birqiy`a
hashaamaayim lhaa'iyr `al - haa'aarets.
Wlimshol bayowm uubalaylaah uulahabdiyl
beeyn haa'owr uubeeyn haxoshek wayar'
'Elohiym kiy - Towb.
Wayhiy - `ereb wayhiy - boqer yowm rbiy`iy.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym yishrtsuu hamayim sherets
nepesh xayaah w`owp y`owpeep
`al - haa'aarets `al - pneey rqiy`a
Wayibraa' 'Elohiym 'et - hataniynim hagdoliym
w'eet kaal - nepesh haxayaah haaromeset
'asher shaartsuu hamayim lmiyneehem w'eet
kaal - `owp kaanaap lmiyneehuu wayar'
'Elohiym kiy - Towb.
Waybaarek 'otaam 'Elohiym lee'mor pruu uurbuu
uumil'uu 'et - hamayim bayamiym whaa`owp
Wayhiy - `ereb wayhiy - boqer yowm xamiyshiy.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym towtsee' haa'aarets nepesh
xayaah lmiynaah bheemaah waaremes
wxaytow - 'erets lmiynaah wayhiy - keen.
Waya`as 'Elohiym 'et - xayat haa'aarets
lmiynaah w'et - habheemaah lmiynaah w'eet
kaal - remes haa'adaamaah lmiyneehuu
wayar' 'Elohiym kiy - Towb.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym na`aseh 'aadaam
btsalmeenuu kidmuuteenuu wyirduu bidgat
hayaam uub`owp hashaamayim uubabheemaah
uubkaal - haa'aarets * uubkaal - haaremes
haaromees `al - haa'aarets.
Wayibraa' 'Elohiym 'et - haa'aadaam btsalmow
btselem 'Elohiym baaraa' 'otow zaakaar
uunqeebaah baaraa' 'otaam.
Waybaarek 'otaam 'Elohiym wayo'mer laahem
'Elohiym pruu uurbuu uumil'uu
'et - haa'aarets wkibshuhaa uurduu bidgat
hayaam uub`owp hashaamayim uubkaal - xayaah
haaromeset `al - haa'aarets.
Wayo'mer 'Elohiym hineeh naatatiy laakem
'et - kaal - `eeseb zoree`a zera` 'asher
`al - pneey kaal - haa'aarets
w'et - kaal - haa`eets 'asher - bow
priy - `eets zoree`a zaara` laakem
Uulkaal - xayat haa'aarets uulkaal - `owp
hashaamayim uulkol rowmees
`al - haa'aarets 'asher - bow nepesh xayaah
'et - kaal - yereq `eeseb l'aaklaah wayhiy - keen.
Wayar' 'Elohiym 'et - kaal - 'asher `aasaah
whineeh - Towb m'od wayhiy - `ereb wayhiy - boqer
Here is the text of Genesis 1:1 as recorded in different Targums:
In Hebrew form:
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם
|Modern Hebrew Gen 1:1 בראשית ברא אלהים |
את השמים ואת
: Gen 01:01
בֲקַדמִין בְרָא יוי יָת שְׁמַיָא וְיָת אַרעָא׃
: Gen 01:01
מן אוולא ברא אלקים ית שמייא וית ארעא
: Gen 01:01
מלקדמין \בחכמה ברא דייי ׳בחוכמתא ברא ייי״2״׳ שכלל׳ושכלל״2״׳ ית שמיא וית
P Gen 01:01
בחכמה׳מן לקדמין׳ ברא וייי ושכליל ית שמיא וית ארעא
V Gen 01:01
בחכמה ברא ה' ית שמיא וית ארעא
Paleo-Hebrew ( The language which was
used before 585 B.C.) (also called Ancient Hebrew) (THIS is the
language in which the Original Bible had been written down. It has
no resemblance to modern Hebrew, and understanding of modern Hebrew
is of no value in understanding this Ancient Hebrew.)
THIS is the language that the Original Old Testament of the Bible had been
written down. After about 585 BC, this language began to fall out
of use and by about 300 BC, Jewish Rabbis felt it necessary to translate
the entire Bible into Greek, as the Septuagint or LXX. Once Aramaic
and other later forms of Hebrew writing later developed, the LXX was used
as the source text to re-translate the Bible back into Hebrew,
but now as the more broadly understandable Aramaic. By the time of Jesus,
there were virtually no longer any Rabbis who were capable of reading any
remaining texts in Paleo-Hebrew, so this was critically important
to do. We also note that the materials and ink used tended to begin
disintegrating after even twenty years, so even by Jesus' time,
there were certainly no actual Original Paleo-Hebrew texts still
in existence, and at best, some Scribal copies of a very few limited
texts were still in existence. THESE (partial) targums represent the
bulk of all the Paleo-Hebrew text that is now known.
We ask that you note that the text of the Aramaic Bible,
or the even later Greek and Latin Bibles are NOT the Original text,
but are the result of at least two processes of translating the
entire text. Hebrew Rabbis complicated this all even further in
that after their Scribe created a new copy of the entire Bible text,
they always immediately destroyed the source text. That process
essentially eliminated any chance of later checking the precise
accuracy of the Scribal copies, although we are confident that all
Scribes were zealously diligent in avoiding copyists errors.
The same text in Romanized form:
- Gen 01:01 b:aqadmiyN b:rA) ywy yAt $:mayA) w:yAt )ar(A)%
- Gen 01:01 mN )wwl) br) )lqyM yt $myy) wyt )r()
- Gen 01:01 mlqdmyN \bxkmh br) dyyy /bxwkmt) br) yyy#2#/ $kll/w$kll#2#/ yt $my) wyt
- Gen 01:01 bxkmh/mN@lqdmyN/ br) wyyy w$klyl yt $my) wyt )r()
- Gen 01:01 bxkmh br) -h' yt $my) wyt )r()
Transliteration of Hebrew
History of the Bible Septuagint and early Manuscripts
Translating the Bible
Jewish Genesis (Advanced), Bereshit. A Thorough Presentation of Jewish Genesis 1 text
The individual articles presented here were generally first published
in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed
on the Internet in May 1997.
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