Museum of the Bible Displays Medieval Hebrew Pentateuch

This Pentateuch was written around the year 1000 and will be displayed at the Museum of the Bible. Photo by Alejandro Matos/Museum of the Bible

A rare medieval Pentateuch manuscript that had been in private collections for years will go on display Friday (Nov. 8) at the Museum of the Bible.

The volume, which dates to around the year 1000, was acquired two years ago by the Green Collection, headed by billionaire Steve Green of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts chain.

The Pentateuch, consisting of the five biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, forms the first part of the 24-volume Hebrew Bible. It was written by scholars of the Masoretic tradition who codified the Hebrew Bible and added diacritical marks above and below the Hebrew letters to enable correct pronunciation.

Before the appearance of books, Jews read the Pentateuch from the Torah, a scroll made of parchment or animal skins. Torah scrolls are still read in synagogues, but because they do not contain vowels, readers sometimes consult Pentateuch collections such as the one on display at the Museum of the Bible for the authoritative pronunciation.

There are several other extant volumes of the Pentateuch from the 11th century or earlier in Russia and Israel, said Herschel A. Hepler, associate curator at the museum. The Museum of the Bible named this one the Washington Pentateuch.

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Source: Religion News Service