“The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 7 – Inaccuracies in Ancient Texts

In “Chapter XXVIII: Qabbalistic Keys to the Creation of Man,” Manly P. Hall cites the following:

Prof. Crawford Howell Toy of Harvard notes: “Manuscripts were copied and recopied by scribes who not only sometimes made errors in letters and words, but permitted themselves to introduce new material into the text, or to combine in one manuscript, without mark or division, writings composed by different men; instances of these sorts of procedure are found especially in Micah and Jeremiah, and the groups of prophecies which go under the names of Isaiah and Zachariah.” (See Judaism and Christianity.)

(p. 398)

The importance of this statement cannot be overstressed. Many ancient texts are considered to be absolute truths, either the exact words of the author, or sometimes, the exact words of the Divine. Add to that the fact that translations of text in ancient languages do not capture the details of the original words, and it becomes evident that what we read today in English translation may be vastly different from an original scroll that appeared on the desk of a scribe for copying over a thousand years ago.

Now, this does not mean that we should reject ancient texts, or dismiss reading them because they are in translation. We should of course read these texts. But, we should do so with the understanding that we may need to work a little harder to get to the essence of what the original author was trying to convey. In other words, we must always read critically.

I think that is all I have to share on this topic. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading interesting stuff.



Filed under Non-fiction, Spiritual

4 responses to ““The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall: Part 7 – Inaccuracies in Ancient Texts

  1. Hi Jeff – I’m glad I saw this because the copying of books is discussed at length in The Name of the Rose (ha – can’t get that book out of my mind!) and although I don’t remember there being a discussion about errors or changing or adding things, they did talk at length about the illustrators and the liberties they took when they drew pictures in the margins. So one book, even though it’s a copy, is never an exact copy. Thanks for expanding my mind!

    • Barb, I actually laughed. You’ve caught the Umberto Eco bug.

      I like that you mentioned marginalia. It’s a fascinating subject. I studied with a History professor who specialized in medieval history and she was obsessed with marginalia. You can learn a lot about a person by their comments in the margins.

      Anyway, I’m glad you found the post interesting. I love discussing literature with you. Hope you have a great weekend! — Jeff