BHS is widely regarded (by Christians and Jews alike) as an accurate edition of the Hebrew scriptures, and a useful text-critical tool. It is the most widely used edition among biblical scholars.
For masoretic details, however, Israeli and Jewish scholars have shown a marked preference for alternative editions based upon the Aleppo Codex.
BHS is a revision of the third edition of the Biblia Hebraica edited by Rudolf Kittel, the first printed Bible based on the Leningrad Codex. The footnotes are completely revised. It originally appeared in instalments, from 1968 to 1976, with the first one-volume edition in 1977; it has been reprinted many times since.
The text of BHS is an exact copy of the masoretic text as recorded in the Leningrad Codex. The order of the biblical books generally follows the codex as well, even for the Ketuvim, where that order differs from most common printed Hebrew bibles. Thus the Book of Job comes after Psalms and before Proverbs, and the Megilloth are in the order Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and Esther. However, Chronicles has been moved to the end as it appears in common Hebrew bibles, even though it precedes Psalms in the codex.
In the margin are Masoretic notes. These are based on the codex, but have been heavily edited to make them more consistent and easier to understand. Even so, whole books have been written to explain these notes. Some of the notes are marked Sub loco, meaning that there seems to be some problem, often that they contradict the text. The editors never published any explanation of what the problems were or how they might be resolved.
Footnotes record possible corrections to the Hebrew text. Many are based on the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea Scrolls and on early Bible translations such as the Septuagint, Vulgate and Peshitta. Others are conjectural emendations.
Work is now under way to produce a revision, to be known as the Biblia Hebraica Quinta or Fifth Hebrew Bible, being a revision of the existing fifth edition of BHS.
About the BHS