November 26, 2009

There are Three Versions of the Torah

“ …the Torah, held to be the most ancient of histories, existeth today in three separate versions: the Hebrew, considered authentic by the Jews and the Protestant clergy; the Greek Septuagint, which was used as authoritative in the Greek and other eastern churches; and the Samaritan Torah, the standard authority for that people. These three versions differ greatly, one from another, even with regard to the lifetimes of the celebrated figures.

In the Hebrew Torah, it is recorded that from Noah's flood until the birth of Abraham there was an interval of two hundred and ninety-two years. In the Greek, that time span is given as one thousand and seventy-two years, while the Samaritan, the recorded span is nine hundred and forty-two years. Refer to the commentary by Henry Westcott [the transliteration of this name is not certain] for tables are supplied therein which show the discrepancies among the three Torahs as to the birth date of a number of the descendants of Shem, and thou wilt see how greatly the versions differ from one another.

Moreover, according to the text of the Hebrew Torah, from the creation of Adam until Noah's flood the elapsed time is recorded as one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, while in the Greek Torah the interval is given as two thousand two hundred and sixty-two years, and in the Samaritan text, the same period is said to have lasted one thousand three hundred and seven years.

Reflect now over the discrepancies among these three Torahs. The case is indeed surprising. The Jews and Protestants belittle the Greek Torah, while to the Greeks the Hebrew version is spurious, and the Samaritans deny both the Hebrew and the Greek versions.”
(‘Abdu’l-Baha; Authorized translation of unpublished Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha to Ethel Rosenberg in 1906 in reply to her questions about the Tablet of Wisdom. Research Department, Baha'i World Centre. Published pp 78-81 in Ethel Jenner Rosenberg, the Life and Times of England's Outstanding Baha'i Pioneer Worker, by Robert Weinberg (George Ronald, Oxford, 1995).