Tanakh

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The Tanakh (Hebrew: תַּנַ"ךְ‎, pronounced [taˈnaχ] or [təˈnax]; also Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach) is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah ("Teaching", also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings")—hence TaNaKh. The name "Miqra" (מקרא), meaning "that which is read", is an alternative Hebrew term for the Tanakh. Elements of the Greek translation, the Septuagint, are incorporated in various forms in Christian Bibles, in which, with some variations, it is called the "Old Testament". Significant differences exist between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint text. The Old Testament typically is not printed with the traditional Hebrew subdivisions, though the distinction "Law and the Prophets" is used several times in the New Testament.[1]

According to the Talmud,[2] much of the contents of the Tanakh were compiled by the "Men of the Great Assembly" by 450 BCE, and have since remained unchanged. Modern scholars believe that the process of canonization of the Tanakh became finalized between 200 BCE and 200 CE, see Development of the Jewish canon for details.

The Hebrew text was originally an abjad: consonants written with some applied vowel letters ("matres lectionis"). During the early Middle Ages scholars known as the Masoretes created a single formalized system of vocalization. This was chiefly done by Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, in the Tiberias school, based on the oral tradition for reading the Tanakh, hence the name Tiberian vocalization. It also included some of Ben Naftali and Babylonian innovations.[3] Despite the comparatively late process of codification, some traditional sources and some Orthodox Jews believe the pronunciation and cantillation derive from the revelation at Sinai, since it is impossible to read the original text without pronunciations and cantillation pauses.[citation needed] The combination of a text (מקרא mikra), pronunciation (ניקוד niqqud) and cantillation (טעמים te`amim) enable the reader to understand both the simple meaning, as well as the nuances in sentence flow of the text.

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