This volume explores an underappreciated feature of the Tiberian Masoretic Biblical tradition, namely its composite nature. Focusing on cases of dissonance between the tradition’s written (consonantal) and reading (vocalic) components, the study shows that, though related, interdependent, and largely in harmony, the Tiberian spelling and pronunciation traditions at numerous points reflect distinct oral realisations of the biblical text.
Where it differs from the apparently pre-exilic pronunciation underlying the written tradition, the vocalisation often exhibits conspicuous affinity with post-exilic linguistic conventions as seen in representative Second Temple material, such as the core Late Biblical Hebrew books, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ben Sira, rabbinic literature, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and contemporary Aramaic and Syriac material. On the one hand, such instances of written-reading dissonance clearly entail a degree of anachronism in the vocalisation of Classical Biblical Hebrew compositions. On the other, since many of the most innovative and secondary features in the Tiberian vocalisation tradition are typical of sources from the Second Temple Period and, in some cases, are documented as minority alternatives in even earlier material, the Masoretic reading tradition may be characterised as a linguistic artefact of profound historical depth.