Tyndale House Research Associate Dr Kim Phillips identifies the writing style of Samuel ben Jacob in newly published digitised photographs of a manuscript from the Firkowich collection in the depths of the National Library of Russia archives of St Petersburg. Locked away from the eyes of interested researchers for a number of years these microfilms have recently been posted online by the National Library of Israel. Due to painstaking work in the unusual practices of this scribe Dr Phillips has been able to identify that this is Samuel ben Jacob’s work despite there not being any identifying colophon, or signed publication note, on the text. The mystery of who wrote these texts has been decoded.
Samuel ben Jacob is the scribe who wrote the Leningrad Codex, the earliest complete copy of the Old Testament which is reproduced in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. This manuscript is behind most modern translations. Identifying this piece of work to be by the same scribe will allow scholars to check the accuracy of tiny details in the manuscript behind most modern Bible translations. This will then contribute to future scholarly Bibles.
“For the first time (for scholars outside Israel and Russia) it is possible to contextualise the readings of L [the Leningrad Codex] against the background of equivalent readings in other manuscripts known to have been written by Samuel b. Jacob” Dr Kim Phillips Tyndale Bulletin 68.1.