Vowel-points At no time was the Hebrew system of writing merely a writing of the consonants, but from the beginning it had three vowel-signs for the vowels a, i, and u. Of these, however, the first (א) was used only with a commencing sound, and in a concluding sound it was not written, but every consonant was sounded with the a. Moreover, in the beginning the a sound was very greatly predominant, and only as the language became developed the other vowels became more frequent, i and u, also e, o, ai, and an. Yet the writing was developed less rapidly than the pronunciation, and thus the vowel-marks י and ו were not applied everywhere, but only in ambiguous forms. As long as Hebrew continued to be spoken, men were content with this simple vocalization, and the precision and certain knowledge of the living language compensated for the defectiveness of the written symbols. This can best be seen from the scriptio deffectiva which so generally appears in, the earlier books of the Old Test. But when, after the Exile, literary activity was awakened, and the Jews turned their attention to reading and writing, the inconvenience of the old vowel designation was felt in proportion as knowledge of the living tongue decreased. In these circumstances, they endeavored to retain their knowledge of the current pronunciation by a more frequent use of the vowel letters; and the so-called scriptio plena, as it appears in the later books of the Old Test., was used more and more. Thus we read ריע אלגומי ם קודש דויד for רע אלגמי ם קדש דוד, respectively. This orthography is also seen in a greater degree in the Samaritan Pentateuch, and in the Talmudical and later Rabbinical language. But so late as the time of the Alexandrian version the vocalization had not attained to its later perfection, and therefore in many cases it deviates from that which is now adopted.
I. The Origin of the Vowel System.
1. In the Talmud, also, we have no trace of written vowel-signs or accents, as some have supposed, nor does it contain even the incipient features of a written vowel system. The formulas, so frequently occurring in the Talmud, כן אלא כן אל תקרא and יש א ם למקרא יש א ם למסרת, have often been quoted as a proof that in the time of the Talmud the text of the Scripture had been firmly settled in respect of the vowels no-less than of the consonants, But this is a mistake. The first formula, "Read not so but so," relates solely to fanciful and playful changes of words in the text, so that witty applications may be made of them. It furnishes no proof that the Talmud recognizes written vowel-marks. The other formula, "A reason for decision according to the Mikra and the Masorah," is used when two Talmudic doctors, disputing, base their different opinions on the same word in the text, but according to a different reading of it the one reading being called מקרא, the other מסרת, The former is the ecclesiastical or canonical reading; the latter the apocryphal or assumed one. The opposition between the two recorded in the Talmud shows that written vowel-signs were then unknown. Both refer to the vocalization, but in such a way as proves an unvoweled text, affording scope for interpretations deviating from the established pronunciation. Another class of passages has been quoted in which certain vowel-signs appear to be mentioned. These are —
a. The Talmudic explanations of the Biblical passage Ne 8:8, where, as a means of understanding the sense of the law read in public, טעמי ם and טעמי ם פיסוקי are adduced, besides the verse division פסוקי ם.
b. פסוקי טעמי ם and טעמי תורה are also mentioned. Such expressions have been thought to allude not merely to divisions of the sense and accents, but also to vowel-signs. But טעמי ם does not mean accents, such as we now have in the text. It denotes senfentia, a logical sentence, and פיסוקי ט8 incisa sententiarum, divisions of the sense, or short passages.
The Talmud, therefore, does not contain even the incipient features of a written vowel system. All the expressions which have been referred to such need only to be rightly explained, and they will be found to involve the absence of vowel-points and accents.
2. From the writings of Jerome, we also see that he, was unacquainted with the present vowel-signs, the accents, and the diacritic points of the letters, He never mentions them; and wherever he has occasion to describe words, his descriptions refer to the consonants alone. His usual expressions, accordingly, are scribitur, and scriptum, legitur and lectum — the former two referring, to the letters, the later two to their pronunciation — and the contrast implied indicating that while the consonants were written, the vowels were supplied by traditional usage. This is confirmed by the fact of his remarking in various places that the same word or the same letters (idem verbum, or sermo iisdem litteris scriptus) might be read (legi) that is, pronounced, an consequently understood (intelligi) in various ways, according to the connection (pro qualitate loci or locorlin, pro consequentia, prout locus et ordo flagitatverint), or according to the judgment of the reader (pro ulbitrio iegentis, voluntate lectorumi) or the vernacular of the country (pro varietate regionum); and, on the contrary, two words (utrumque verbum) as to signification were written with. the same letters. Words of this sort he calls anbiua. To such ambiguity (ambiguitas sermonis) he ascribes the numerous deviations and mistakes of the ancient translators, particularly the Sept., whom he blames only where their version does violence to the letters, or interchanges words whose letters have no similarity to one another. In giving his own version from the Hebrew, he appears sometimes undecided which is the right reading, and gives the deviations of former translators without making known his own judgment (comp. Epist. 126, ad Evagr.). Occasionally he indicates his opinion by melius or magis, as if one reading were more probable than another because better suited to the connection (see Mic 5:3; Zep 3:8; Hab 3:4; Ge 26:12). Such cases, however, are the exceptions, for he is usually decided; and where he does give the grounds of his decision, he rests on these sources:
a. He is often guided by the connection alone.
b. The authority of his predecessors, particularly Symmachuis and Theodotion, perhaps the majority of them in opposition to the Sept., determines him (see Am 3:11; Am 4:12-13; Mic 5:3,7,12).
c. Above all, the authority of the Jewish rabbins by whom he was instructed guided his translations. By this he was chiefly influenced, seldom departing from its voice. "Hebraetus qui me docuit asserebart," and like expressions, we meet with in his expositions, which is but natural, considering the circumstances in which he was placed. Stress has been laid upon the fact that Jerome sometimes employs accentus, which erroneously has been taken in the sense of a sign for regulating the reading. But the accentus of the Latins, like the προσωδία of the Greeks, refers to the vocalization and the valuing shades of ambiguous consonant sounds, but not to Written signs. Jerome speaks of diversis sonis et accentibus proferuntur (comp. Ad Evagr. 125), while the expression pro varietate accentum is used in the same way, and of the same words, as the phrase juzta ambiguitatem sermonis sa legatar, etc.
d. There is another class of passages in which he speaks with express reference to the original text (in Hebraeo scriptun est or habetur, in Hebraeo multo aliter legitzuri meta Hebraicumle veitinmuts, juxta Hebr. veritatem, etc.), and rejects a reading adopted by former translators. Here he merely expresses his conviction that his own reading and interpretation are right. And there are places where he thus refers to the original and, with all his knowledge, makes mistakes which could only have occurred in the absence of all written vowel-marks. Thus, שׁ ם and שֵׁבִע שָׂ ם and שָׂבָע, שׁעָרַי ם and שׂעֹרַי ם convey to him one and the same meaning (comp. Hupfeld, Kritische Beleuchtung einiger dunken und missverstandesnen Stellen, etc., in the Stud. u. Krit. 1S30, p. 573, etc.).
From what has been said, it is evident that Jerome knew no vowel-points, any more than the Talmud, and that the Sept. translators did not use a vocalized text.
3. First Traces. — The Hebrew vocalization was, no doubt, suggested by the example of the Arabian, or more probably the Syrian, writing; but though it is analogous to that of the kindred languages, it is considerably richer and more elaborate. When the Hebrew vocalization was introduced has long been a matter of uncertainty and dispute. According to a statement on a scroll of the law, which may have been in Susa from the 8th century, Moses the Punctuator was the first who, in order to facilitate the reading of the Scriptures for his pupils, added vowels to the consonants, a practice in which he was followed by his son Judah the Corrector, or Reviser. These were the beginnings of a full system of Hebrew points, the completion of which has by tradition been associated with the name of the Karaite Acha, or Achai of Irak, living about 550, and which comprised the vowels and accents, dagesh anid rapheh, Keri and Kethib. It was, from its local origin, called the Babylonian or Assyrian system (נקוד אשירי הבבלי נקוד), or the Eastern system. The peculiarity of this system consists in having signs of a different shape to represent the vowels, thus, kamets is paihach, ; segol, ; chirek or, and if a י follows, merely a dot above it; cholem, ; kibbuts, ; sheva is_, and is employed at the end of words also, even above ה quiescens; only tsere, shurek, and dagesh are like those in use at present in our Hebrew texts. Another peculiarity of this system is that the vowels are almost uniformly placed above the letters. It is therefore designated the sperlineary system (מנוקד למעלה). Thus, e.g., Isa 49:18 is, according to the old Babylonian vocalization, represented: נֹקבּצוּ באוּ ל ִשׂאיֹ סביֹב עיני ִוּראיֹ כּלּ ם. This system is best exhibited in the Prophetarum Posteriorum Codex Babylonicus Petropolitanus (ed. Strack, Petropoli, 1876), p. 450 sq.
Almost simultaneously with these endeavors, the scholars of Palestine, especially of Tiberias, worked in the same direction; and here rabbi Mocha, a disciple of Anan the Karaite, and his son Moses fixed another system of vocalization (about 570) distinguished as that of Tiberias (נקוד טברני) and the Palestinian or Western system (נקוד ארע ישראל). It is far more complete and extensive and exhibits more sharply the niceties of the traditional pronunciation and intonation, of the text than the Babylonian system, with which it competed, and was ultimately adopted by all the Jews. Even the Karaites, who with their characteristic tenacity and their antagonism to the Rabbanites, clung for some time to the older signs, because they had used them before their secession from the Talmudical sects, were at last, in 957, induced to abandon them in favor of those adopted in Palestine.
II. Controversies on the Subject. — Thus much for the origin of the vowel-points, which during the 16th and 17th centuries were the cause of the fiercest controversy that agitated the republic of learning. Some centuries before, the dispute about the antiquity and origin of the Hebrew vowels commenced, and their authority was questioned. As early as the 9th century, Natronai II ben-Hilai (q.v.), in reply to the question whether it is lawful to put the points to the synagogal scrolls of the Pentateuch, distinctly declared that since the law, as given to Moses on Sinai, had no points, and the points are not Sinaitic (i.e. sacred), having been invented by the sages, and put down as signs for the reader; and, moreover, since it is prohibited to us to make any additions, on our own cogitations, lest we transgress the command 'Ye shall not add,' etc. (De 4:2); hence we must not put the points to the scrolls of the law." The passage in the original, as found in the Vitry Machso (q.v.), and quoted by Luzzatto in Kerem Chemed, 3, 200, runs thus: ספר תורה שנתן למשה בסיני וששאלת ם א ם אסור, ספר תורה מדעתנו פן נעבור בבל תוסיŠ לפיכ ִאין נוקדי ם החכמי ם ציינוהו לסימן ואסור לנו להוסיŠ לא שמענו בו נקוד ולא נתן נקוד בסיני כי לנקוד ספר תורה1. Down to and through the Middle Ages. — Among the Jews, it was generally maintained that the vowels points were either given to Adam in Paradise, or communicated to Moses on Sinai, or were fixed by Ezra and the Great Synagogue. This view was deemed all the more orthodox since the famous Zohzar (q.v.), the sacred code of the Cabalists, which was believed to be a revelation from God, communicated through R. Simon ben-Jochai (q.v.), declared that "the letters are the body, and the vowel- points the soul: they move with the motion and stand still with the resting of the vowel-points, just as an army moves after its sovereign (ומתנענען אבתרייהו כחיילין בתר מלכיהון ובנגונא דילהון אזלין אבתרייהו אתוון ונקודי, Zohar, 1, 15 b); that "the vowel-points proceeded from the same Holy Spirit which indited the Sacred Scriptures, and that far be the thought to say that the scribes made the points, since even if all the prophets had been as great as Moses, who received the law direct from Sinai, they could not have had the authority to alter the smallest point in a single letter, though it be the most insignificant in the whole Bible" (ibid. on the Song of Solomon [ed. Amst. 17011, 1, 57 b). R. Levi ben-Joseph, author of the book Semadanr, quotes, in favor of the antiquity of the vowel-points, the passage in De 27:8, "And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly." Similar is the view expressed in the book Horcyothla-kore (הקורא הוריית), said to belong to the 11th century. R. Moses the Punctuator speaks of a period of forgetting, which closes with Ezra, who revealed the vowel-points again. Different entirely is the view of Aben-Ezra, Judah ha-Levi, and D. Kimchi. With the appearance of Elias Levita's (q.v.) Miasoreth ha-lasoreth, the controversy took a new phase. He denied the divine origin and antiquity of the vowel-points. According to Levita, the vowel points and accents did not exist either before Ezra or in the time of Ezra, or after Ezra until the close of the Talmud. . They originated with the sages at Tiberias. To make good his assertion, he examines the Rabbinical evidences in favor of the antiquity of the points, and comes to the conclusion that they belong to a later period, and are consequently of no avail. If he could be convinced by the testimony of earlier rabbins, he would succumb. In favor of his opinion, he quotes Abef-Ezra, Kimchi, and Judah ha-Levi's Kusari. He especially lays great stress upon the fact that the law which Moses put before the children of Israel was a plain codex, without points and without accents, a and event without the division of verses, as is to be seen to the present day. He reminds us that almost all the names both of the vowel-points and the accents are not Hebrew, but Aramaean and Babylonian — as, e.g., fere, segol, cholem, meluphum, mappik, dagesh, etc. — and finds it very strange that the points and accents, if they were actually given by Moses, could have been forgotten. Levita's book excited a great stir among his co- religionists; and to meet it with arguments, Azariah de' Rossi (q.v.), in 1574-75, nearly forty years after the appearance of Levita's work, undertook a refutation of the same. In his work Meor Enaim, he quotes the Talmud, Nedarim, 37 b; the books Bahir and Zohar; Jerome, Epist. 126, ad Evagr. etc.
Without entering too minutely upon the question, we may wind it up by saying that the synagogue of the Middle Ages, up to the 16th century, was almost unanimously' in favor of the high antiquity of the vowel points. The more important, however, was the voice of Levita, proving the very reverse. Among Christians, even some centuries before Levita, the vowel points were regarded as later inventions. Prominent among them was the Dominican Raymond Martini (q.v.), who, in his Pugio Fidei (2d ed. Leips. 1687), on Ho 9:12, remarks, "Caeterum sciendum, quod nec Moyses punctavit legem, unde Judaei non habent earn cum punctis, i.e. cum vocalibus scriptam in rotulis suis; nec aliquis ex prophetis punctavit librum suum; sed duo Judaei, quorum unus dictus est. Nephtali, alter vero Ben- Acher, totum Vetus Testamentum punctasse leguntur; quae quidam puncta cum quibusdam virgulis sunt loco vocalium apud eos cum qua venissent ad locum istum, et secundum orthographiam debuissent punctare בשורי incarnatione mea, punctaverunt בסורי in recessu meo, ut opus incarnationis removerent a Deo." Martini's opinion was confirmed by Nicholas de Lyra (q.v.), who, after quoting with approval Raymond Martini on Ho 9:12, remarks, "Puncta non sunt de substantia littere, nec a principio scripturere fuerunt, unde et rotuli qui in synagogis eorum legentur sunt sine punctis, sed permagnum tempus postea inventa sunt hujus modi puncta ad faciliuslegendum." Lyra's opinion was regarded as paramount by all succeeding Catholic writers.
To invest it with an air of originality, Jacob Perez de Valencia (died 1491) gives the following account of the origin of the vowel-points, which we quote, not for its intrinsic value, but on account of its amusing nature: "After the conversion of Constantine the Great, the rabbins perceived that great multitudes of Gentiles embraced Christianity with the greatest devotion all over the globe; that the Church prospered very favorably; and that also of the Jews an immense number became convinced of the truth by experience and miracles, whereby their gains and revenues were lessened. Roused by this wickedness, they assembled in great multitudes at the Babylon of Egypt which is called Cairo, where they, with as much secrecy as possible, falsified and corrupted the Scriptures, and concocted about five or seven points to: serve as vowels, these points having been invented by Ravina and Ravashe, two of their doctors. The same rabbins also concocted the Talmud (Prolog. in Psalmos, tract 6). Hence he maintains "that no faith is to be placed in the Holy Scriptures as the Jews now interpret and punctuate them"(ibid. tract. 2, fol. 23, "Ideo nulla fides adhibenda est Scripturse Sacre sicut hodie habent [Judsei] sic interpretatam et punctuatam").
2. During and Since the Reformation. — Passing over the names of other Catholic divines who also assumed a late origin of the vowel-points, we find that almost the entire period of the Reformation sided with Levita. Luther (who called the vowels a modern invention neues Menschenftfindlein), Calvin, Zwingli, Mercier, Pellican, Leo Judah, Piscator. John Scaliger, Drusius, etc., boldly declaimed against the antiquity, divine origin, and authority of the points. The conviction of the Protestant leaders "undoubtedly was that by liberating themselves from the traditional vowel-points of the synagogue, after having discarded the traditions of the Church of Rome, they could more easily and independently prosecute their Biblical studies, without any trammels whatsoever" — thus making the Bible, and the Bible alone, without gloss and without tradition, the rule of faith and practice. Embittered at the cry of the newly, risen Protestant leaders that the Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the norma noormans, Rome soon changed her tactics, and Levita's argument as to the late origin of the vowel-points was perused by her in order to confute the claims of her opponents. From Levita's argument she deduced the following:
1. That the Bible could only be read in ancient days by the few authorized spiritual teachers; and,
2. That the Scriptures, without these points, cannot possibly be understood apart from the traditional interpretation transmitted by the Church of Rome. This opinion soon found its way into England, and was advocated by Dr. Thomas Harding (q.v.), the celebrated antagonist of bishop Jewel. His argument was as follows: "Among the people of Israel, the seventy elders only could read and understand the mysteries of the holy books that we call the Bible; for, whereas the letters of the Hebrew tongue have no vocals, they only had the skill to read the Scripture by the consonants, and thereby the vulgar people were kept from reading of it by special providence of God, as it is thought that precious stones should not be cast before swine; that is to say, such as be not called thereto as being, for their unreverend curiosity and impure life, unworthy" (comp. the Works of John Jewel, bishop of Salisbury. [ed. Parker Society], 2, 678).
Similar was the language used on the Continent by the Romanists against the Protestants, who appealed to the Scriptures in matters affecting their faith and practice. Jean Horinus (q.v.) solemnly declares, in his learned Exercitationes Biblicae e hebraei Graecique Textus Sinceritate, that "the reason why God ordained the Scriptures to be written in this ambiguous manner (i.e. without points) is because it was his will that every man should be subject to the judgment of the Church, and not interpret the Bible in his own way. For, seeing that the reading of the Bible is so difficult, and so liable to Various ambiguities, from the very nature of the thing, it is plain that it is not the will of God that every one should rashly and irreverently take upon himself to explain it, nor to suffer the common people to expound it at their pleasure; but that in those things, as in other matters respecting religion, it is his will that the people should depend upon the priests" (Exercitat. [Paris, 1633], IV, 2, 8, 198, etc.). To this argument R. Simon, in his Histoire Critique (Rotterdam, 1685), p. 468, replied in the following manner: "On pourra dire aussi, par la mdme raison que Dieu a voulu soamettre les Mahometans a leurs docteurs pour l'interpretation de l'Alcoran, parce qu'il est crit, aussi-bien que le texte Hebreu de la Bible, dans une langue qui n'est pas moins inconstante d'elle me que la langue Hebraique. Mais sans qu'il soit besoin d'avoir recours au conseil secret de Dieu, il est certain que la langue Hebraique a cela de commun avec les langues Arabe, Chaldaique et Syriaque, quielles sont de leur nature fort imparfaites, nayant pas assez de voyelles, pour rendre la lecture des mots qui les composeit constante et tout-h-fait arretee." The modus operandi of the Catholic controversialists caused great alarm. among the defenders of Protestantism, who now commenced beating a retreat. They declared that the points were put to the text by the prophets themselves, and that to say otherwise was heathenish and popish. Thus the charge of Gregory Martin (q.v.), in his work entitled A Discovery of the Manifold Corruption of the Holy Scriptures by the Heretics of our Days, that Protestants, in their versions, follow the Hebrew vowels, which were of recent origin, was rebutted by Fulke, in his Defence of the Sincere and True Translations of the Holy Scriptures into the English Tongue, against the Manifold Cavils, Frivolous Quarrels, and Impudent Slanders of Gregory Martin, one of the Readers of Popish Divinity in the Traitorous Seminary of Rheims (Lond. 1583; Parker Society ed. Cambridge, 1843), p. 578, with the declaration that "seeing our Savior hath promised that never a particle of the law shall perish, we may understand the same also of the prophets, who have not received the vowels of the later Jews, but even of the prophets themselves, howsoever that heathenish opinion pleaseth you and other papists." Hitherto, both Catholics and Protestants chiefly relied upon abusing each other. None of them thought of examining Levita's arguments, or of corroborating or refuting his statements. To be or not to be, that was the question on both sides, and, besides, neither of the two parties had sufficient Talmudical learning and critical tact. The first attempt to meet Levita's book was made, as has already been stated above, by the learned Azariah de' Rossi, in 1574-75, in ch. 59, pt. 3, of his work The Light of the Eyes (Meor Enaim [Mantua, 1574-75; Vienna, 1, 829]), wherein he tried to prove the antiquity of the vowel-points from the Zochar and the Talmud.
With weapons like these, the Protestants now opened a new campaign, under the leadership of Buxtorf, the father (died 1629), with a display of Rabbinical bayonets. The antiquity and divinity of the vowel-points. which were formerly abandoned, were now defended; and in his Tiberias siae Comentarius Masorethicus (Basle, 1620) Buxtorf made use of De' Rossi's arguments. Feeble as these arguments were, they nevertheless found many supporters who ranged themselves under the leadership of Buxtorf who, however, was not destined to carry everything before him in his first battle against Levita. The Buxtorf-de'-Rossi alliance produced a counter-alliance, headed by Louis Cappel (q.v.), Before Cappel published his treatise, he sent it in manuscript to Buxtorf for examination, who returned it with the request that it might not be printed. "He then sent it to Erpenius who was so convinced by sits arguments and learning that, without the sanction of the author, he printed it at Leyden, under the title. The Mystery of the Points Unvueiled (Arcanum Punctatiomi Revelatunt [Leyd. 1624; afterwards reprinted by his son Amsterd. 1689, fol.]).
A time of anxious suspense followed the publication of this anonymous work, during which time father Morinus published his Biblical Exercitations, as already indicated above. Morinus, as well as Cappel, denied the antiquity of the vowel-points, but each had a different aim in view; for while Cappel contended against the authority of Rabbinical tradition, Morinus contended in behalf of Romish tradition, placing the same above the Scriptures, which he compared "to a mere nose of wax, to be turned any wavy," to prove thereby the necessity of one infallible interpretation. Albert Pighius, a mathematician and controversialist (born in 1490, and died in 1542), in his Hierarch. Eccles. Assertio (ed. 1538), 3, 3, 80, makes a similar statement: "Suntenim illae (Scriptur), ut non minus vere quam festive dixit quidam, velitn nasus cereus, qui se horsum, illorsum, et in quam volueris parten, trahi, retrahi, fingique facile permittit." When Morinus's work was published, Cappel felt rather uncomfortable at this association, and, having been made known to the public as the author of the Arcanum by Cocceius (in his De duobus Talmnu dis Titulis Sanhedrim et Maccoth), Cappel now openly declared himself as the author in the preface to the Animadversio ad Novam a Davidis Lyranam (ed. Gomarus). The success which had followed the publication of the Arcanum was indeed, very great. Its immense erudition, conclusive reasoning, and overpowering arguments soon convinced the most skeptical scholars of the late origin of the vowel-points. The followers of Buxtorf were for a considerable time doomed to almost fatal inaction, till at last, after a silence of four-and-twenty years, Buxtorf, the son, who succeeded his father, published, in 1648, a reply to Cappel, entitled Tractatus de Punctorum Vocalium et Accentuuw in Libris Veteris Testamenti Hebraicis Origine, Antiq.iftate et Authoriate, Oppositus Arcano Punctationis Revelato Judovici Capelli. Cappel answered in a rejoinder entitled Vindicice Arcani Punictationis (published by his son in 1689).
The consequence of this controversy was, that Protestant Christendom everywhere was divided into two hostile camps, vowellists and anti- vowellists. Soon the controversy was transplanted to England, where Levita and Cappel were represented by Walton, while De' Rossi and Buxtorf were represented by Lightfoot and Owen. Walton, in his prolegomena to the London Polyglot (Prolegom. 3, 38-56), speaks at great length concerning the controversy, and concludes that the controversy "is only about the present points, in regard to their forms, not of their force and signification." Different entirely was the position of Lightfoot. This learned Hebraist thought that his dicta would be quite sufficient to silence his opponents, and in his Centuriac Chorographica, 100, 81, he comes to the conclusion: "Opus Spiritus Sancti sapit punctatio Bibliorum, non opus hominum perditorurn, exccecatorum, amentium." This dogmatic and abusive assertion of Lightfoot stimulated Dr. Owen to issue his attack on Walton's Polyglot and the anti-vowel lists and his defense of the vowel points, with the exception of the endorsement and elaboration of Lightfoot's diatribe, is simply made up of De-Rossi-Buxtorf arguments greatly diluted (comp. his Integrity and Purity of the Hebrew and Greek Text of the Scriptures, etc. [Lond. 1659]; 4:447 sq. of his collected works [Lond. 1823]). Within twelve months Walton published a reply, the Considerator Considered (Lond. 1659: reprinted in the second volume of Todd's Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Bishop Walton [Lond. 1821]), which contains additional and valuable contributions to the literature of this controversy.
Although the antiquity of the vowel-points still found advocates in Joseph Cooper (Dormus Mosaicae Claris, sive Legis Septimentum, etc. [Lond. 1673], Samuel Clarke (An Exercitation concerning the Original of the Chapters and Verses in the Bible, etc. [ibid. 1698]), Whitefield (A Dissertation on the Hebrew Vowel-points [Liverpool, 1748]), and Dr. Gill (A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel points, and Accents [Lond. 1767]), who published learned dissertations in defense of Dr. Owen and against Walton, yet it must be admitted that Walton's works decided the battle in England in favor of the anti-vowellists.
On the Continent, Wasmuth, with his Vindicie Hebr. Script. (Rostock, 1664), and others entered the lists in support of Buxtorf, whose adherents in Switzerland exalted his views to a confessional article of belief in the Formula Consensus, art. 4 can. 2, so that a law was enacted in 1678 that no person should be licensed to preach the Gospel in their churches unless he publicly declared that he believed in the integrity of the Hebrew text and in the divinity of the vowel-points and accents ("codicem Hebr. Vet. Test.
turn quoad consonas turn quoad vocalia sive puncta ipsa sive punctorum saltem potestatem θεόπνευστον esse").
An intermediate course, proceeding on the assumption that there had been a simpler system of vowel marks, either by three original vowels or by diacritic points, was opened up by Rivetus (Isagoge seo Introductio Generalis, Yet. et Noel Test. [Leyd. 1627], 8:15, 104), Hottinger, and others, and was pursued especially by J. D. Michaelis (Van Clem Alter der hebr. Vocale, in Orient. Bibl., 9:82 sq., 88 sq.), Trendelenburg (in Eichhorn's Repertor. 18:78 sq.), Eichhorn, Jahn, Berthold, and others (comp. Diestel, Gesch. des alten Test. in der christl. Kirche [Jena, 1869], p. 253, 334 sq., 401, 451, 566, 570, 595 sq.).
The controversy, which so vehemently raged for more than three centuries, may now be regarded as ended. Modern research and criticism have confirmed the arguments urged by Levita against the antiquity of the present vowel-signs. It is now established beyond question, from the discovery of ancient MSS., that there were two systems of vocalization contrived almost simultaneously, the earlier or first-system developed by Acha, or Achai, of Irak (Babylon), cir. A.D. 550; the later or second system by Mocha of Tiberias, about 57.
See Ginsburg, Levita's Massoreth ha-Massoreth (Lond. 1867), p. 44 sq.; Pick, The Vowel-points Controversy, in the Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review, Jan. 1877; Schnedermann, Die Controverse des Ludovicus Cappellus mit den Buxtonfen fiber das Alter der hebr. Punctation (Leips. 1879); Kautzsch, Johannes Buxtorf der Altere (Basle, 1879). (B. P.)