Research into masoretic biblical manuscripts (MSS) is heavily reliant on our ability to reunite fragments once belonging to the same codex, now separated one from the other in the Genizah morass, and to identify the scribes behind codices whose colophons have been lost. This task is made especially difficult by the fact that the oriental square hand in which these codices were written is highly stereotypical. Consequently, the paleographer must rely on paratextual features: non-textual features that accompany the biblical text itself, which form a kind of fingerprint for each MS or scribe.
In this article, Kim Phillips argues that the masora circule (the small circule used in these MSS to link the masoretic notes to the biblical text itself) functions as part of this unique fingerprint.
Tyndale Bulletin editor Caleb Howard says: "It is a pleasure to publish Kim Phillips’s article in Tyndale Bulletin. His study of the unique habits of scribes as they copied manuscripts of the Bible is a badly needed focus of research for those of us who value the biblical text. I encourage especially prospective PhD students who are considering what they should spend their careers studying about the Bible to take notice of Kim’s work, to emulate his scholarly rigour, and to possibly follow him in gaining mastery of the particulars of Bible manuscripts, Old Testament and New."