Israeli professor completes 30-year Bible editing project

Friday, August 10, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

An Israeli professor has given the Tanakh (the so-called "Old Testament" of the Bible) its first editing overhaul in nearly 500 years, and it only took him three decades to complete.

"The people of Israel took upon themselves, at least in theory, one version of the Bible, down to its last letter," Professor Menachem Cohen told the Associated Press from his office at Bar-Ilan University.

A renowned biblical scholar, Cohen spent the past 30 years conducting a meticulous examination of thousands of ancient and historical texts and commentaries in his pursuit of fulfilling that mission.

In the end, he identified and edited some 1,500 inaccuracies in the currently-used Hebrew scriptures. The final chapter in his 21-volume set is scheduled to be published next year.

An editing project of such biblical proportions (forgive the pun) had not been undertaken since 1525, when Jacob Ben-Hayim of Venice similarly drew on ancient manuscripts to edit and unify the Hebrew scriptures into the standard form still in use today.

The problem is that Ben-Hayim did not possess the same level of research tools or have access to as many old texts as Cohen, so a great many small errors remained in the text.

Ultimately, Cohen told the AP, the changes do not alter any of the biblical stories or teachings. Rather, they are small grammatical and spelling changes. But the endeavor does highlight the deep dedication of the Jewish people to preserving every "jot and tittle" of God's Word.

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