Professor Emanuel Tov is J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible (emeritus) in the Dept. of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Born in Amsterdam, Emanuel Tov emigrated to Israel in 1961 and obtained his Ph.D. in biblical studies at the Hebrew University in 1973. Tov specializes in various aspects of the textual criticism of Hebrew and Greek Scripture as well as in the Qumran Scrolls. Under his editorship, thirty-three volumes of the Dead Sea Scrolls series, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, appeared (1992-2008).
Professor Tov, from his lecture series on The Torah:
In many ways, the origin of MT [Masoretic text] remains enigmatic. This text is far from being unified or consistent in its spelling and other editorial characteristics. Through the generations the MT scribes copied their scrolls faithfully, but these scrolls inherited an earlier tradition that was not always precise or consistent. The variation in the nature and quality of the texts that ended up being included strongly implies that there was no selection process of manuscripts for inclusion in the archetype of MT. Instead, there probably was only one candidate for inclusion in the archetype of MT for each text, and which text was chosen likely depended on coincidence.
The persons who created the archetype were, for the most part, unaware of differences between scrolls and did not pay attention to the small details under scrutiny in this study, otherwise the specific MT text of Samuel, for instance, with its many errors as compared to the Qumran and LXX versions, would not have been included.
Just as inconsistencies can be found in spelling and quality between the different books in the MT corpus, so too can they be found in individual books themselves. Large books, such as Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, and Psalms, consisting of several smaller scrolls, could coincidentally be combined from scrolls of a different textual nature. Thus, two of the five books of Psalms in MT use elohim as the main divine appellation, while in the other three books it is YHWH. For similar reasons, Jeremiah 27–29 differs in specific scribal details from the remainder of the book.
The same processes happened in the creation of the archetype of the LXX, whose books differ much from one another. For example the different segments of the books of Samuel-Kings are of a differing nature. We note that in a corpus that developed over the course of such a long period, internal differences such as those in the LXX and MT should be expected.
Gary: If Professor Tov is correct, the selection of manuscript copies used for each individual book of the Hebrew Bible, in both the Masoretic Text and the Hebrew ancestor text of the (Greek) Septuagint, was coincidental. Wow! How in the world will anyone ever figure out which text was closest to the originals???