“Jot” and “tittle” are not everyday words in English. What do they mean and how should Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:18 be understood? Jerusalem Perspective‘s editor-in-chief, David Bivin, tackles these questions on behalf of a subscriber’s request for help.
There are about 1,500 scribal errors in the Hebrew Scriptures. The letters vav and yod, for instance, were often confused by ancient copyists of the Bible. The two letters are so similar that they are easily confused. In fact, writing by mistake a vav instead of a yod, or vice versa, is the most common scribal error.
A careful reading of the New Testament suggests that Jesus was a scholar learned in the Scriptures and religious literature of the period, which was vast and varied. Yet the popular Christian view of Jesus is that he was a simple, uneducated character from the provinces. This misunderstanding is due in part to a number of disparaging statements made about Nazareth and the Galilee such as, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46), and “Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?’” (Acts 2:7).