Author of 10th-century Scripture identified

CAMBRIDGE, England — The author of a 10th-century collection of Scriptures has been identified as the same scribe who wrote the earliest known complete copy of the Hebrew Bible.

The finding could influence future translations of the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, according to a news release from Tyndale House, Cambridge, which published the research.

The ancient text, known to scholars as Codex L17, contains only Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings. Researcher Kim Phillips wrote in an article in the Tyndale Bulletin that he determined the author was the scribe Samuel ben Jacob, or “Samuel, son of Jacob,” and it was written around the year 975.

Samuel ben Jacob also wrote The Leningrad Codex, the earliest known complete copy of the Hebrew Bible, completed in the year 1008 and the basis for many modern biblical translations.

Using digital images of the codex published by the National Library of Israel, Phillips said he was able to identify the scribe based on similarities in the lettering patterns between these texts and another partial text by Samuel that he discovered in 2015.

Scholars said the find is important, though they don’t expect anything earth-shattering to change as a result.

“It’s always important to have an early manuscript, but the specific significance remains to be seen,” said David Kraemer, director of libraries at the Jewish Theological Seminary. (RNS)