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Samaritan Pentateuch, a recension of the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch, in use with the Samaritans, and accepted by them as canonical to the exclusion of the other Old Testament writings. Early in the 17th century the famous traveler Pietro della Valle succeeded after much inquiry in procuring at Damascus a copy not only of the original of this Pentateuch of the Samaritans, but also of the ancient translation, or Targum, in the Samaritan dialect; both documents passed in 1623 into the hands of the Oratorians in Paris. Through Ussher and others a number of additional Samaritan codices were brought to Europe in the course of the 17th century, so that Kennicott was able to use for his Hebrew Bible 16 MSS. more or less complete. Of the MSS. that have reached Europe none are older than the 10th century. All are written in a peculiar modification of the old Semitic character which is now known to have been at one time common to the entire Semitic domain, and also to have constituted the basis of the Greek alphabet.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.