Standard qere (lit., “it is read”) notes recorded in the margin of medieval Hebrew Bible manuscripts instruct the reader how to read and interpret words in the body of the text, the ketiv (lit., “it is written”). Although some qere notes may appear to correct errors in the ketiv, as a rule the ketiv was meant to be preserved unchanged, with the qere perpetuated in the margin. This study will explore a hitherto overlooked, nonstandard usage of the qere notation that served to notify the reader of an error in the text and was intended to replace the ketiv the next time the manuscript was copied. This phenomenon of “text-correcting qere” can be identified when the qere is seemingly superfluous or improbable. Other indicators of text-correcting qere occur when the ketiv has been marked for erasure with a strikethrough or has been left unpointed, when it has been previously corrected, or when it is ambiguous or illegible due to successive corrections. A related phenomenon involves recording the word ketiv itself in the margin along with a correction to indicate “it should be written [X].” A parallel in talmudic manuscripts raises the possibility of understanding this as “I found it written [X] in another manuscript.” The former would be an actual correction (“text-correcting ketiv”), whereas the latter would record a textual variant that was meant to be perpetuated as a marginal note (“variant-noting ketiv”).

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