User:Dovi/Miqra according to the Masorah
About this Edition (English Abstract)
Miqra according to the Masorah (מקרא על פי המסורה) is a Hebrew edition of the Tanakh in a digital online format under an open license. It is a reader's edition based on the Aleppo Codex and related manuscripts, and consults the full range of relevant masoretic scholarship.
Three features make this edition of the Tanakh unique:
These three unique features of Miqra according to the Masorah are thoroughly described in the extensive, five-chapter introduction to the edition (Hebrew). Here we provide a general abstract in English.
Free Content License
Like several other modern editions of the Tanakh, Miqra according to the Masorah provides an accurate, documented text. But unlike most others, it is made available under a free and open license for public use (CC-BY-SA). This license for a free and open cultural work covers both the text itself and its exhaustive documentation.
There are currently two other important digital versions of the Tanakh online, but neither of them benefits from both of these features: a free license and an accurate, documented text appropriate for reading with cantillation.
- The first is Mechon Mamre, which is an excellent, accurate online version of the Tanakh according to the masorah (approximating the Breuer methodology). But it lacks documentation, and it is not available under a free license: You can make limited private use of it without asking for permission and paying a fee, but you cannot reproduce it or improve it (e.g. by posting it on your website together with a translation, commentary, or any other added feature). It is also undocumented: Although Mechon-Mamre's text has been carefully proofread, there are no explanations of the editorial decisions that went into producing the text.
- The second is the Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC), a professional academic edition whose creators have graciously made it available with no restrictions. This edition strives to be well-documented, and its editorial principles are transparent. However, its text is not entirely appropriate for Jewish use. The WLC is an attempt to create an exact digital representation of one extremely important manuscript, namely the Leningrad Codex (LC). As a direct result of its mission to be a diplomatic edition of the LC, it purposely includes that manuscript's thousands of minor idiosyncrasies and blatant errors. The practical purpose of the WLC is to provide a justifiable base text for bible translators, teachers and scholars, and for that the Leningrad Codex is generally sufficient. But its numerous minor anomalies (in its spelling and vocalization) make it insufficient for Jews who want to chant or read the Torah and the Tanakh according to their niqqud and te`amim.
The unique goals of Miqra according to the Masorah are thoroughly described in chapter one of the full introduction to the edition (Hebrew), along with its sources of inspiration in scholarship and history.
Reader's Edition (Tiqqun Qor'im)
Full masoretic editions of the Bible in manuscript (such as the Aleppo Codex) and in print (such as the classic editions of Miqra'ot Gedolot) are a nuanced combination of two ancient traditions: the tradition of the scribes (who transmit the written letter-text) and the tradition of the readers (who transmit the oral vocalization of the text for public reading). But this combination is ideal for neither scribes nor readers. That is why, for centuries, two kinds of derivative editions have been produced: The Tiqqun Soferim is designed to be a useful tool for scribes, while the Tiqqun Qor'im is designed as a useful tool for readers. The latter term is used today for an edition that shows the plain letter text next to vocalized text in two parallel columns, a format meant to help the reader practice the reading. But the same term may also be applied more loosely to any text that drops the full apparatus of masoretic notes in favor of a basic vocalized text, as is found in typical one-volume editions of the Tanakh. In recent years, many such editions have added helpful symbols and formatting to the text for the benefit of those who want to chant the text accurately. Such an edition may also be considered a Tiqqun Qor'im.
The most visibly unique element of Miqra according to the Masorah is this aspect of its style: The text has been formatted appropriately for use as a Tiqqun Qor'im (in the looser sense), by providing helpful features to the reader that are not always present in the manuscripts and older editions. For instance, when a ta`am is marked in a syllable that is not stressed, a double symbol has been added consistently in the proper place (pashta, zarqa, segol, telisha). Legarmeih and paseq are visibly distinguished. Qamaz qatan has been added in full (alternatives are documented where traditions differ about its application).
Furthermore, the parashah divisions (parashah petuhah and parashah setumah) are indicated visually (instead of using the letters פ and ס), in way that maximizes their impact on a computer screen or in print, and is consistent with their use in the Aleppo Codex and by Maimonides. Sifrei Emet (the three poetic books Psalms, Proverbs, and Job) appear in an entirely new format (see the full text of Proverbs for example).
The detailed stylistic features of Miqra according to the Masorah are thoroughly described in chapter two of the full introduction to the edition (Hebrew).
Full Editorial Documentation
Various editions of the Torah or Tanakh in Hebrew may seem identical to the untrained eye, but the truth is that each and every edition—from Koren to Breuer and from Artscroll to JPS—makes a multitude of small editorial decisions. In most editions these decisions are not transparent, and the student of Torah therefore relies upon the good judgment of the editor.
In Miqra according to the Masorah, the entire editorial process and the full reasoning behind it are fully described and documented in all of their details. All editing has been done from scratch, and every stylistic alteration or textual decision made regarding every letter, niqqud, and ta`am in the entire Tanakh is documented and its sources or reasons are made transparent.
The textual basis of the text of the Torah is described in chapter chapter three of the full introduction to the edition, while the textual basis for the text of Nevi'im and Ketuvim is described in chapter four and chapter five (all in Hebrew). In addition, the data that underlies each individual editorial decision about a specific word is documented locally within a special template (תבנית:נוסח) that is visible within the edit page for the relevant biblical chapter.
Since 2014, the project base has been in a digital spreadsheet file at Google Docs. All of the elements in the biblical text as shown in Wikisource are organized in the file according to type: The text of the verses themselves, the space or parashah before each verse, plus chapter and verse numbers and their associated navigation template. For further technical details about the spreadsheet and how to use it, see the technical guide to the spreadsheet.
Each biblical book went through a process of verification when it migrated to the spreadsheet file, and was then re-uploaded again to Hebrew Wikisource via a bot (replacing the previous text) and checked manually. The new text was then uploaded a second time in main namespace of Hebrew Wikisource as the current version of biblical chapters with te`amim (cantillation).
The organized basis for the project in the spreadsheet is meant to enable efficient use of the content for additional purposes (inside and outside of Wikisource). It allows for easy and efficient tagging of verses, chapters, and other elements in the text, so that it can be converted into XML format. Anyone who wants to make use of the material can do so according to the Open Content license (with attribution as a link to this page).
Programmers may now work on other applications, both at Hebrew Wikisource and offsite, with an eye towards enhancing usability, such as allowing the user to choose between various options for style, formatting and certain textual details (where there are alternative traditions). These efforts involve coding the text through XML. Other volunteers who want to suggest corrections, add new features, or help improve this edition in any other way are welcome to make contact. Those who want to create derivative versions of it with special capabilities are also entirely welcome.
Applications on other projects
- Miqra according to the Masorah serves as the text of the Tanakh within Mikra'ot Gedolot Al Hatorah.
- Miqra according to the Masorah has been available at Sefaria since 4 Shevat 5781 (17.01.2021), and became the default Hebrew version of the Tanakh on 9 Sivan 5781 (20.05.2021).
- A module for Miqra according to the Masorah was developed for Accordance Bible Software (the text remains open content).
Work on all of these applications contributed to the correction of numerous small errors and helped improve the accuracy of the text.
Contents of the Full Introduction
All material is in Hebrew, unless otherwise noted:
- About this Edition: English Abstract | Hebrew Abstract
- Chapter 1: General Introduction (This chapter has not been translated yet.)
- Chapter 2: Styling Miqra for the Reader (In this chapter, there is completed so far a draft translation of only a portion of the subsection "Ḥatafim in Non-Gutteral Letters".)
- Chapter 3: Establishing the Text of the Torah (partial translation)
- Chapter 4: Establishing the Text of Nevi'im and Ketuvim: Places Missing in the Aleppo Codex - much of this chapter is still a draft in Hebrew
- Chapter 5: Establishing the Text of Nevi'im and Ketuvim: Places Extant in the Aleppo Codex
- Appendices (includes lists of sources and templates; so far there is a partial translation)
- The Technical Basis for the Project Organized in a Spreadsheet
- Technical Guide to the Spreadsheet: English | Hebrew
Original Announcements in English
The English-language description of Miqra according to the Masorah originally appeared as announcements on two websites:
The information on this page is a corrected and updated version of those announcements.
- Targum Onkelos according to the Taj (Yemenite tradition)
- Miqra ve-Targum (parallel edition)
- Miqra ve-Targum ve-Rashi (Targum in parallel with vocalized Rashi below) - Rashi on the end of Deuteronomy is still in preparation.
Miqra according to the Masorah is dedicated to my beloved bride, Tamara Klyachkin Kadish, in anticipation of our wedding on the eve of 8 Adar 5778. You are the jewel in my crown.
- The first complete draft of the biblical text was finished on erev Shabbat Parashat Ki Teze, 10 Elul 5773; August 16, 2013. Since then it has undergone a thorough process of editing and corrections, and the text itself may now be considered a finished work. The introductory chapters are not yet complete, although for most of them the drafts are nearly finished. Other small refinements continue to be make, and suggestions for corrections are carefully evaluated.
- The attribution required by the free and open license should be implemented by a link to this webpage, which is the project's main page in all languages other than Hebrew. Attribution in Hebrew should be a link to the Hebrew version of this page.
- See "Definition of Free Cultural Works" and "The Open Definition".
- An added indication of its practical purpose is the fact that the WLC omits basic elements of the Leningrad Codex when they are irrelevant to Christian translators and scholars. These include the division of the Torah into weekly readings, and of the Tanakh into sedarim. The parashah divisions (open and closed) are not represented visually, and the "song" formatting is not represented at all. These are all basic elements of the Leningrad Codex and of the traditional Jewish division of the Tanakh for public reading, but they are not reproduced in the WLC. The chapter divisions are added instead. Most striking is that the WLC reproduces the base text of the Leningrad Codex but utterly ignores its masorah, even though that masorah is meant as a quality control feature for the very text that has been digitally reproduced. All of this renders the WLC, as it stands, inappropriate for use by traditional Jews.
- The new format for Sifrei Emet and the reasoning behind it are discussed in detail here (Hebrew).
- The basic method for establishing textual details in this edition is similar to those of Mordechai Breuer and Mikra'ot Gedolot Haketer (Bar-Ilan University Press), both of which are extremely similar to each other: Despite the impression one can get from reading the literature about them, the differences between them are nearly insignificant compared to their similarities. Both of them largely conform to the original conclusions of Israel Yeivin regarding the reconstruction of the Aleppo Codex in its missing parts for niqqud and te`amim, and to the conclusions of Breuer himself for the letter-text. This new edition differs from both Breuer and MGH significantly more than they differ from each other. The most visibly unique feature is in the formatting, which was briefly described above.