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BHK

Rudolf Kittel's Biblia Hebraica (BHK)

Around 1901, the Old Testament scholar Rudolf Kittel (1853–1929) from Leipzig developed a plan for a critical edition of the Hebrew Bible. Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (BHK) was published in 1906 in two volumes by Verlagsbuchhandlung J. C. Hinrichs in Leipzig. As its basis, Kittel chose the Hebrew so-called “Textus receptus”, edited by Jakob ben Chayim. This was a version of the Masoretic Text that Daniel Bomberg had published in Venice in 1524/1525. Through the centuries since its first publication, it had become universally recognized as the definitive text of the Hebrew Bible. Kittel printed this Hebrew text with its vowel and stress marks, but without the surrounding Masoretic commentaries and notes (the Masorah Magna and Masorah Parva). At the foot of the pages he included a concise critical apparatus with textual variants from other known Masoretic manuscripts and from the ancient translations (primarily the Greek Septuagint).

Around 1901, the Old Testament scholar Rudolf Kittel (1853–1929) from Leipzig developed a plan for a critical edition of the Hebrew Bible. Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (BHK) was published in 1906 in two volumes by Verlagsbuchhandlung J. C. Hinrichs in Leipzig. As its basis, Kittel chose the Hebrew so-called “Textus receptus”, edited by Jakob ben Chayim. This was a version of the Masoretic Text that Daniel Bomberg had published in Venice in 1524/1525. Through the centuries since its first publication, it had become universally recognized as the definitive text of the Hebrew Bible. Kittel printed this Hebrew text with its vowel and stress marks, but without the surrounding Masoretic commentaries and notes (the Masorah Magna and Masorah Parva). At the foot of the pages he included a concise critical apparatus with textual variants from other known Masoretic manuscripts and from the ancient translations (primarily the Greek Septuagint).

In 1947, the discovery of the Qumran scrolls opened up a new dimension in Old Testament textual research. For the first time Hebrew/Aramiac manuscripts some 1,000 years older than the Codex Leningradensis became available as reference texts; This discovery cast entirely new light on the history of the texts, and the textual variants of the Qumran manuscripts could, of course, not be omitted from the Biblia Hebraica. For technical reasons, however, the typesetting of the BHK3 could only be modified to a limited extent. Moreover, the Hebrew matrices used in printing the BHK3 had been lost or destroyed in the course ofWorldWar II. The variants from the two best-preserved Qumran texts, for example – the Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa) and the Habakkuk Commentary (1QpHab) – both of which were extremely important to research, could not be simply incorporated into the existing apparatus. As a compromise, these Qumran variants were added to the respective volumes starting with the 7th Edition of 1951 as a third section of the critical apparatus in the margin of the pages and in a different typeface. Reprints of the BHK appeared in this form up until the mid-1970s.

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