The Old Testament was actually written in two distinct types of writing/scripts – one older and one much newer. The Samaritans continued on the tradition of keeping the Torah written in the older text type even when other Jews transitioned to the newer. According to Wurthwein they viewed the newer text types as “a flagrant innovation” (p.6).
The KJV only crowd and the Samaritans both have the view that you aren’t really doing it right or reverently unless you are using the older forms. This was not even about versions. This was about which type of letters you use to write the exact same words. Imagine if people started arguing it was sin to read a Bible that was printed or generated by a computer because the originals were hand written and also that it couldn’t be written in cursive. That would be the kind of debate they were tied up in.
Here is another interesting tidbit from Wurthwein in talking about the newer script types,
“The Jews were aware, however, that this script was not their earliest. One Jewish tradition attributes its introduction to Ezra about 430 B.C. The later rabbis were embarrassed by the implication that it was a post-exilic innovation. Accordingly they told how the Torah was first given in the square script, but because of Israel’s sin the script had been changed, and then in Ezra’s time the original form was restored.” (p.4)
Isn’t it funny how even back then people were reverse engineering history to make their way the best and oldest? They retold history so their script would be the earliest and the the actual earlier script was due to sin. There is nothing new under the sun as some groups of Christians try to use that same trick today.