Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another Forgery from Turkey

Image flipped from internet news report.

Jack Sasson points out an article in a Turkish newspaper claiming that a 1900-year-old leather Torah scroll has been confiscated by police. An (upside-down) image of the manuscript from the news report shows that this dating is clearly incorrect. The main hand is clearly not anywhere near 2000 years old, and it is so unbelievably sloppy that there is no way it was copied by a skilled scribe. The "Torah" text appears to be complete nonsense, as far as I can tell, and it is certainly not from the Pentateuch. The image quality is too poor to tell what the rest of the text is surrounding the main text. I suspect it is modelled on medieval rabbinic commentaries, but based on the nonsense "Torah" text, I highly doubt it is any such thing. This manuscript appears simply to be a poor-quality forgery.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

DSS Images Online!

I just found out via Jack Sasson that the Israel Antiquities Authority has now put images of all of the DSS up online for publish access here. As far as I can tell, they have most all of the manuscripts online, with each fragment/plate imaged in both visible-light and infrared spectra. The images are of a high quality, and you can easily zoom in to see great detail. I noticed 1QIsa(a) is not given, but this is not a big deal given the Israel Museum images here. Unfortunately the images at the IAA site are not given in position in a scrollable format like the Israel Museum images, but their value is still immeasurable. For the first time ever, scholars now have the complete corpus of DSS in high quality digital images easily available at their fingertips whenever they have internet access. Thank you IAA for all your hard work! It will certainly be worth the effort!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Orthodox Corruption of Scripture in L252

Working through the 11th century Greek Gospels Lectionary 252, I came across an interesting variant in John 3:9-10. In L252, Nicodemus rebukes Jesus for his ignorance of the regenerating work of the Spirit and then proceeds to instruct him with regard to his messianic role. The lectionary lacks πως δυναται ταυτα γενεσθαι; απεκριθη Ιησους και ειπεν αυτω in vv. 9-10, leaving a text that reads:

"Nicodemus answered and said to him, 'Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you...'"

This shorter, more theologically primitive reading is clearly the initial text of the Gospel, which has been replaced throughout the entire rest of the manuscript tradition. This process of intentional supression of heterodox readings is verified within the manuscript itself by the secondary insertion of the lacking text. The original teaching of the Gospel of John is that Christ was theologically misinformed and needed to be taught by the Jewish religious leaders why he was here...

Alternatively, the text was accidentally dropped out by homoioteleuton (και ειπεν αυτω  και ειπεν αυτω) in this medieval lectionary, but I doubt I could even get a single article out of that... ;)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Electronic Transcription of Greek Gospel Lectionary L252

I recently starting transcribing Lectionary 252 for the International Greek New Testament Project, and it made for an interesting exercise. Someone apparently cut the sole of a shoe out of the first folio, which made transcription quite complicated. :) It was quite helpful to learn and put into practice their transcription guidelines, and I'm sure there will be a future for doing similar things with OT manuscripts. Once full transcriptions are done, data comparison can be done much more quickly and from a much greater variety of angles than normal collation practices.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hebrew Manuscripts Studies: An Introduction

The Freie Universität Berlin will be hosting a workshop entitled Hebrew Manuscripts Studies: An Introduction from 15-19 July 2013.

"The participants will be introduced to the study of different codicological and paleographical aspects of Hebrew manuscripts, including their periodisation, writing supports, bindings, mise-en-texte, mise-en-page, inks, illuminations, dating systems, scripts, etc. The theoretical part will be supplemented by hands-on sessions, in which the participants will have to opportunity to observe the discussed features themselves in Hebrew manuscripts kept at Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.
The worshop will be conducted by:
Prof. Dr. Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Sorbonne, Paris)
Prof. Dr. Malachi Beit-Arie (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Dr. Ben Outhwaite (Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University Library)
Venue: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Haus 2, Potsdamer Straße 33
The workshop is intended for advanced MA and doctoral students, and other junior researchers in the fields of Judaic Studies, Arabic and Islamic Studies, classic and medieval philology or comparative manuscript studies. Dependent on prior arrangement with the home institution, students of the Freie Universität Berlin, who are currently enrolled in Judaistik, Islamwissenschaft or Arabistik and PhD candidates at the BGSMCS, are entitled to receive credits for their participation. Please refer to your institute for details. The participation fee is 100 Euro. The enrollment in the workshop will only be active after payment. Bank details will be communicated to successful applicants, end of January 2013. The fee cannot be reimbursed in case of cancellation. The workshop will be held in English and is limited to 25 participants! Applications, including a cover letter with a brief description of your motivation, CV, summary of current research project, are to be sent to or Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Orientabteilung, Potsdamer Str. 33, 10785 Berlin, until 15 January 2013."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Textual Criticism of Sumerian Literature

This one looks like an interesting book for comparative studies in textual criticism.

by Paul Delnero

"The occurrence of textual variation is a significant but frequently neglected aspect of the study of Sumerian literary compositions. The correct evaluation of textual variants and the proper understanding of how and why they occur is essential to producing reliable editions of such texts. Such explorations also provide invaluable evidence for the written transmission of Sumerian literary works and a wealth of data for assessing aspects of Sumerian grammar. Drawing from a detailed analysis of the different types of textual variants that occur in the numerous duplicates of a group of ten compositions known collectively as the Decad, this book aims to provide a much needed critical methodology for interpreting textual variation in the Sumerian literary corpus which can be applied to editing and analyzing these compositions with improved accuracy."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Qumran-Masada Link?

Jack Sasson brings attention to an article in Popular Archaeology noting that Ada Yardeni claims to have identified a common scribal hand in around 50 DSS, including scrolls from multiple Qumran caves and Masada. If this is correct, then it would be a very significant link between the various caves at Qumran and the finds at Masada.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Frank Moore Cross Has Passed Away

I have heard from a number of people that Frank Moore Cross (July 13, 1921 – October 17, 2012) has passed away.

Frank Moore Cross was one of the prominent researchers on the Dead Sea Scrolls at an early stage in their publication. He is especially noted for his foundational contributions to Hebrew paleography and the textual history of the Old Testament. He was the strongest supporter of a theory of local texts for the Old Testament, with the MT reflecting a Babylonian text, the LXX reflecting an Egyptian text, and the SP and several other texts reflecting a Palestinian tradition. Perhaps his most lasting contribution is in his role as teacher, as many of the most prominent Dead Sea Scrolls scholars today have studied under him. He will be sorely missed by many.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Textual Criticism and Byzantine Iconography

In a recent seminar, we were discussing how Christ is often portrayed as the Ancient of Days in Byzantine iconography. I wondered how this was possible, since the Aramaic of Daniel 7:13 unambigiously has the Son of Man coming up "to" (עד) the Ancient of Days, so they must be two different persons. My friends noted that all theophanies in the Old Testament are explained as Christophanies in Byzantine theology, so even if they were two different people, the Ancient of Days would still have to be portrayed as Christ. In fact, Christ is often portrayed twice in trinitarian iconography, one of which is meant as an allusive reference to the Father, who cannot be portrayed in Orthodox theology.

But the discussion reminded me of a textual problem which may have some bearing on the issue. Most Greek witnesses in Daniel 7:13 say that the Son of Man went up "to" (εως) the Ancient of Days (as in the Aramaic), implying they are two different individuals. But others say that the Son of Man came "as" (ως) the Ancient of Days, which may imply that they are the same person.

By way of background, the textual situation with Daniel is unusual. The text preserved in most of our Greek witnesses is not the Old Greek (LXX), but the revision of Theodotian (or an even earlier revision). This tradition consistently attests to εως. Tertullian, Cyprian, and Justin Martyr also read "to." The Old Greek is primarily known through the 10th century Codex Chisianus, though the 2nd-3rd century AD papyrus 967 is also often a good witness to the Old Greek. In this case, Chisianus (with the support of the Syriac translation of the hexaplaric text) and 967 both read ως.

So both readings are clearly old. The surviving Old Greek tradition consistently reads ως, but rests only on two manuscripts. The editor of the Göttingen LXX emends the text of these two surviving witnesses to εως in his reconstruction of the Old Greek text. Many will object here on methodological grounds, but I think the editor is absolutely correct. The Old Greek reading is not preserved in either of the two surviving witnesses. It is far more likely that an original LXX εως was corrupted to ως under the influence of the preceding formula than that the Aramaic was corrupted from עד to כ (or vice versa).

So what we have here is a case where a scribal error within the LXX tradition creates the incorrect impression that the Son of Man and Ancient of Days are the same person. But neither the LXX nor the majority Greek tradition allow such an interpretation. It would be an interesting line of inquiry for iconographers to consider how much influence this important textual variant may have had on the history of iconography and the identification of Christ with the Ancient of Days.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"How We Got Our Bible"

The audio for the seminar I gave on "How We Got Our Bible" at Calvary Chapel Birmingham (UK) recently is now online at It is a very brief two-hour lay introduction to issues of canon, textual criticism, and translation.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Many Chronologies of the Genesis Flood Narrative

On June 9th, I was able to present my paper "The Many Chronologies of the Genesis Flood Narrative: An Exercise in Evaluating Interrelated Variants" at the 2nd Annual St. Andrews Graduate Conference for Biblical and Early Christian Studies. I surveyed the divergent chronologies in the manuscript tradition and presented my synthesis of the data. I think it went well and was generally well received. I did, however, get some tough questioning from Johannes Magliano-Tromp and Kristin De Troyer, the latter of which in particular made me defend (in much more detail than I anticipated) my position on the relationship of Jubilees and several Greek manuscripts that share some of Jubilees' dates. So we had some good challenging and critical interaction that has sharpened my approach.

The conference was also a great time to get to visit St. Andrews and meet a number of other young scholars with similar interests at different institutions. I suspect that we will all see much more of each other during our careers.

Calvary Chapel Birmingham - "How We Got Our Bible"

Today I got to do a two-hour presentation at Calvary Chapel Birmingham (UK) on "How We Got Our Bible." We surveyed three major editorial issues that underly our English translations.

1) Which books do we include in our Bibles? (canon)
2) Which text of these books do we include in our Bibles? (textual criticism)
3) How do we translate these books into English? (translation)

It was a very brief overview of the issues for a lay audience, but I hope it was clear enough and gave some helpful context for using our English Bibles.

We also did a practical demonstration of textual criticism afterwards by letting participants hand copy a paragraph I had written summarizing the manuscript tradition. I then selected four manuscripts and attempted to reconstruct the original text. We succeeded in reconstructing it exactly for all but a few small cases. In the original, long numbers were written out, whereas in the manuscripts they all became abbreviated as digits. Similarly, the word "and" became "&" or "+". Also, the first copyist committed parablepsis and lost six or seven words, an error which was found in all of the manuscripts we examined. It was a very illuminating exercise for those who stuck around afterwards.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament

I was just informed that a new online, open-access journal called the Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament has now published its first bi-annual volume. The journal will publish on "ancient Near Eastern backgrounds, Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinics, Linguistics, Research Methodology, Literary Analysis, Exegesis, Text Criticism, and Theology as they pertain only to the Old Testament." The journal will feature research from an evangelical framework. It looks like there are some interesting articles in the first volume. Perhaps we will see some good text-critical work from the journal as it develops.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

University of Birmingham Postgraduate Conference Papers

The postgraduate papers have now been publicized for the University of Birmingham Postgraduate Conference on 6 June.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Great Isaiah Scroll and Its Damaged Exemplar

In DJD 32, Ulrich and Flint make the case that the Great Isaiah Scroll does not reflect a later stage of development than the MT (contra Kutscher), but instead often reflects an earlier stage of development to which the MT adds significant insertions. They cite seven examples of "Insertions in M highlighted by 1QIsa(a)": 2:9b-10; 34:17-35:2; 37:5-7; 38:20b-22; 40:7; 40:14b-16; 63aβ-bα. In reading the Isaiah scroll recently, I believe I have noticed a pattern which would undermine the major pillars of their thesis.

Preliminarily, it should be admitted that it is quite possible that the Isaiah scroll preserves earlier, pre-expanded texts. 40:7 may be an example, as the original scribe omitted the verse entirely. The Old Greek also omits this verse. The verse is redundant with v. 8. It also disrupts the connection between vv. 6 and 8. Furthermore, the way v. 7 explicitly identifies the referents in the metaphor is characteristic of explanatory glosses. So v. 7 may be a late expansion in the MT. On the other hand, it may be a simple case of haplography in the Greek and Isaiah scroll.

That said, I have noticed a pattern, which may alternatively explain four (34:17-35:2; 37:5-7; 38:20b-22; and 40:14b-16) of Ulrich's and Flint's seven examples. First, none of these can be explained by homoioteleuton. Second, each of these verses are secondarily inserted into the manuscript, bringing the text into alignment with the MT. Third, the original scribe intentionally left one or more blank lines at each of these points, possibly indicating awareness of textual problems. And fourth, each of these four minuses occur at approximately the same location in their respective columns. Noting these patterns, I would like to propose an alternative explanation for these examples.

The four first-hand omissions in 1QIsa(a) at 34:17-35:2; 37:5-7; 38:20b-22; and 40:14b-16 do not reflect a pre-MT stage in the development of the text of Isaiah, but rather a damaged exemplar used by the original scribe of 1QIsa(a). Upon reaching the damaged edges, the scribe left blank spaces in his new copy to be filled in with the correct text from another manuscript at a later time and then continued with the first subsequent legible texts. It is unlikely that the original scribe would have known the expanded text of Isaiah well enough to note the absence of such innocuous additional texts and to note them while copying a non-expanded text (contra Ulrich and Flint). Rather, the consistent pattern of blank spaces and their consistent locations in the text indicate a defective exemplar, which the original scribe copied as best as he could, leaving blank lines for later insertion of the lacunae.

I have rearranged the columns in 1QIsa(a) from photographs on the Israel Museum website to approximate what this reconstructed exemplar must have looked like. The red base line indicates the bottom margin of the exemplar, and the blue boxes mark off the damaged portions of the text. This reconstruction can only be approximate, since 1QIsa(a)--and probably its exemplar--has uneven column widths, but it is sufficient to show that the physical reconstruction of the manuscript provides an obvious explanation for the minuses.

As we can see, all four of the major minuses occur at the bottom margin (potentially you could make the same case for the top margin) of the exemplar in close proximity. If the scroll had been damaged at that point, we would have a very straightforward explanation for how the verses could have been omitted in 1QIsa(a).

This proposal has several advantages of Ulrich's and Flint's proposal.

1) It does not require complex hypotheses about the scribe copying the non-expanded text while having in the back of his mind the expanded text, leaving room for (but not including) this alternative text. I would be interested to see if they can cite any other examples where this kind of procedure was followed. But I consider it quite unlikely that the scribe would have known both texts that well and followed such a scribal practice. My solution is much simpler and much more natural.

2) It explains why these "MT insertions" concentrate on such a small section of text, rather than being equally spread out across the entire book.

3) It explains why all of these were later inserted according to the MT, including one claimed by Ulrich and Flint to be in the original hand (37:5-7). Also interesting is the fact that (if their analysis is correct), the original scribe in 37:5-7 stopped mid-word, and then secondarily inserted the missing text! This would seem to be clear evidence for an exemplar whose bottom edge was defective.

For all of these reasons, my theory of a damaged exemplar for 1QIsa(a) seems to me to account for the evidence in a much simpler and more realistic manner than Ulrich's and Flint's proposal that it reflects a pre-MT stage of development. Careful attention to the physical characteristics of the manuscript and the practical mechanics of copying manuscripts has helped resolve several major textual problems. Without these central pillars, Ulrich's and Flint's theory is based on slender evidence indeed.

Update (10 April 2013): I have posted about the publication of my full DSD article on the Isaiah scroll here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Quantification of Variants in OTTC

Recent conversations in the comments of a past blog post prompted me to think a bit about the overall number of variants in the OT text. I also just finished an article by David J.A. Clines "What Remains of the Hebrew Bible? The Accuracy of the Text of the Hebrew Bible in the Light of the Qumran Samuel (4QSam(a))" in Studies on the Text and Versions of the Hebrew Bible in Honour of Robert Gordon, edited by Geoffrey Khan and Diana Lipton, 211-20 (Brill: Leiden, 2012). This article will serve as a good starting point for considering the quantification of variants in OTTC.

Right from the start, Clines takes on a very polemical and adversarial tone. With regard to Robert Gordon (for whom the volume was edited), Clines says, "If nothing else, this paper adds to the documentary evidence he will need if he is to refute the ideas (211)." Indeed, he retains the same tone throughout the article, eventually concluding that the Hebrew Bible is in a "state of radical uncertainty (219)," where every word is in doubt. In the end, however, I doubt Robert Gordon (or anyone else for that matter) will have much difficulty refuting Clines' ideas.

His basic argument is as follows. If we compare 2 Samuel 22 in the MT and 4QSam(a) and its parallel Psalm 18 we note that there are variants for one out of every two or three words. If we then extrapolate this ratio to the entire Hebrew Bible, we would have about 111,090 variants out of 305,500 words. Furthermore, McCarter accepts 6 variants to the MT as superior out of 66 words in 2 Sam 22, which would imply 27,700 places where the MT text is inferior in the whole Hebrew Bible. Since one out of two or three words on average would have had a variant at one time and we do not know which words had the variants, every single word is thrown into doubt, "as if we possessed an entirely uncertain text (218)." Yet he himself admits that we generally know the contents of the Hebrew Bible, even if not every detail (219).

There are many interesting things to note from his statistics, but also many problematic elements. He claims to have dealt with complicating factors in a previous paper (217), but as these pertain to fundamental logical and evidential flaws in his approach, he should have nuanced his current argument as well. Since he fails to do so, his chapter reads as little more than sweeping generalizations leading to unwarranted conclusions. A few points are important to keep in mind when encountering such claims.

1) Choice of Test Passage: Clines' choice of 2 Sam 22 and Psalm 18 does not appear to be random, but to have been purposely selected to bolster his argument. First, Samuel is well-known as being one of the most corrupt texts in the MT. Second, 2 Sam 22 and Psalm 18 are well-known for significant differences between these parallel passages. Indeed, looking at BHS, almost half the page for each page for 2 Sam 22 is devoted to variants, in contrast to the few lines characteristic of most other books. If you want to prove the text is disputed, base your statistics on one of the most disputed texts available! Studying other passages would have dramatically changed his results. If he had compared Isaiah 36-39 with the parallels in 2 Kings as I have recently been doing, he would have found a much more stable base text.

2) Redactional Differences in Parallels: Clines treats all differences between 2 Sam 22 and Psalm 18 as equivalent, when there is in fact good reason to believe that many of the differences arose from intentional redactional activity as the literary unit was transferred from one context to another. If this is the case, then these differences have no bearing on the accuracy of the transmission of the text of Samuel or Psalms. Parallels cannot be properly used without a nuanced appreciation of their individual contexts. By treating all of the variants in the same way, he has further increased his number of "variants."

3) Extrapolation of Statistics: Clines takes the ratios derived from his study of 2 Sam 22 and then extrapolates the data to see what a similar ratio would yield for the entire Hebrew Bible. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the mere fact that his numbers are actually extrapolations and not actual evidence makes them little more than hot air, especially since they come from such a small pool of texts. His statistics on 2 Sam 22 tell us nothing about the state of the text of the rest of the Hebrew Bible. Second, this extrapolation is misleading, since his pool of texts is non-representative. The books of the Hebrew Bible are very different in nature and preservation, and we cannot safely generalize about books other than those included in our study. His statistics on 2 Sam 22 tell us how many variants there are for 2 Sam 22, and nothing more. His results are significantly smaller when he looks at Isaiah, for instance.

4) Evaluation of Variants: While Clines thankfully does not include merely orthographic variants, he does include all variants without respect to their value or the characteristics of the witnesses which attest to them. This method is quite problematic. For instance, I have heard that the Samaritan Pentateuch has around 6000 variants from the MT. Many of these, however, are clearly secondary, and do not throw the text of the MT into doubt. In a sense, these variants are mostly irrelevant for the question of the preservation of the MT. Likewise, centuries of collations of medieval manuscripts and late translations have shown that variants can be multiplied ad absurdam without significantly altering our understanding of the text. Simple numbers, apart from detailed textual analysis, are meaningless at best and misleading at worst. To show corruption in the MT text, you have to demonstrate the secondary nature of its text, not simply state that there are variants.

5) Simple Mathematics: And of course, as with any statistical argument, we must be sensitive to the statistical methods employed. Clines counts pluses and minuses by word, rather than by variation units, for instance. You have to consider which base text he counts for his word numbers as well. I do not want to get into all the statistical details, but suffice it to say that these are something to be aware of.

6) Unwarranted Conclusions: And the final major point I would make is simply that the primary conclusion he draws is simply not warranted by his evidence. Depending on how you define a variant and how exhaustively you examine the manuscript evidence, I imagine you could probably claim to have found even more than 100,000 variants and speculate about far more. But this number would prove absolutely nothing. It is like Bart Ehrman's classic 400,000 variants in the NT statistic, which is designed more to wow uninformed audiences than to make a nuanced point about the preservation of the text. The simple reality is that the preservation of the OT is far more complex than any such simplistic arguments could possibly cover. Some texts are quite well preserved, while others are more problematic. Some variants to the MT are earlier, and some variants are later. The preservation of any given text must be studied in its own right by collating, sorting, and evaluating the extant evidence.

In contrast to Clines' extreme skepticism, I would point out the statements of Gene Ulrich (the general editor for the cave 4 Qumran manuscripts) to the effect that, "The base text of most books remained relatively stable... Clearly the books were copied with a care and fidelity that fills us with awe and admiration (DSS and the Origins of the Bible 109, 114)." According to Ulrich, though occasionally certain scribes made significant editorial revisions to biblical books, most of the text was accurately copied down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, because of the immensity and complexity of the evidence, we will never be able to quantify the variants in the OT text. But the preserved evidence by no means requires a radical pessimism about the text. It is not very often that you will hear scholars call their own positions "radical," but in Clines' case, he is clearly correct.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Isaiah 39:1 || 2 Kings 20:12

Reading the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa(a)) along with the MT of Isaiah 39:1 and the parallel passage in 2 Kings 20:12, I came across a particularly interesting variant.

MT(Isa) and 1QIsa(b)
וישמע כי חלה ויחזק
"And he (Merodach-Baladan) had heard that he (Hezekiah) had been sick and regained his strenght."

MT and LXX (Kgs)
כי שמע כי חלה חזקיהו
"Because he (Merodach-Baladan) had heard that Hezekiah had been sick."

וישמע כיא חלה ויחיה
"And he (Merodach-Baladan) had heard that he (Hezekiah) had been sick and lived."

One medieval manuscript, one tradition of the Greek, and the Syriac (Kgs)
כי שמע כי חלה חזקיהו ויחי
"Because he (Merodach-Baladan) had heard that Hezekiah had been sick and lived."

First we notice the difference between וישמע "and he heard" and כי שמע "because he heard." Interestingly enough, 4QIsa(b) has כי שמע, as with the Kings witnesses. Either one of these texts has been corrupted by scribal errors, or else כי שמע could be a clarification of what was meant by וישמע. But the most interesting point is the complicated variant that comes next.

1QIsa(a)'s ויחיה "and lived" seems to be clarifying the somewhat more difficult ויחזק "and regained his strength" with the more usual expression. Since the first three letters of these words are identical and the former reading is more natural, it is not impossible that the scribe made this change unintentinoally, but it may also be an intentional change.

The next thing we note is that the verb ויחזק "and regained his strength" and the name חזקיהו "Hezekiah" (often spelled with a י at the beginning, such as יחזקיה) are very similar, so we clearly have an instance of simple scribal error. Which came first? I'm betting the somewhat awkward ויחזק was first, and that a scribe misread it as חזקיהו or יחזקיה. The opposite is less likely, since the scribe would have had to have created two new letters at the beginning to form a verb וי and the verb would have been much more difficult than the noun.

The additions to Kings took this corrupted text and conflated it with a text very similar to 1QIsa(a), giving a double reading.

Thus, I would construct the following localized stemma of variants:

       /    \
חזקיהו      ויחיה          
      \     /
   חזקיהו ויחי

So we have here a clear example of corruption in parallel texts in the MT (viz. Kgs), a synonymous substitution, and a conflation of variants. Quite the interesting combination!

Digitally Enhanced Images

Steve Caruso has an image on his blog that is quite astounding. Whom do you see?

If you see Albert Einstein, you are absolutely correct. Except of course that it is actually an image of Marilyn Monroe! Don't believe me? Step back a ways from your monitor!

The picture is actually a fuzzy picture of Monroe, but certain minor details have been enhanced in such a way as to correspond to Einstein's face. By "enhancing" the image, the artist has actually tricked our minds into seeing the wrong image... the one he created! What does this have to do with OTTC? Believe it or not, a lot, since almost all of the textual critic's resources are photographic!Chances to view the manuscripts themselves are quite rare for most of us common folk!

I recently read a chapter by Bruce Zuckerman demonstrating how similar principles can lead to misreading DSS evidence as well. Every photographic representation of a manuscript is an artist's interpretation of the manuscript. From simple issues such as lighting and angles to more complex processes of enhancing ink traces scholars think they see for the aid of readers, every single decision introduces an element of interpretation which has the potential to affect the way we see the evidence. If artists can make an entire human face appear out of nowhere, digital representations of scrolls fragments can quite easily create readings that simply aren't there! This does not mean that we throw out all images in despair, only that artists should clearly state their interpretive decisions up front and that we must use the images with appropriate caution.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Paleography and Second Hand Corrections

At the end of chapter 34 in the Great Isaiah Scroll, I came across a significant correction. The first hand omits the end of 34:17 - 35:2. A second corrector has gone back and corrected this omission by adding in the missing text.

A similar situation occurs in 37:5-7.

Interestingly, in both places, the original scribe left an unusual blank line. Perhaps he was aware of his omissions? Perhaps his exemplar was damaged at these points, given the physical proximity of the corrections?

These corrections offer good examples for paleographic study of the different hands in the manuscript. When I first began reading Hebrew manuscripts, I was often bewildered by paleographers' claims to be able to distinguish multiple hands within manuscripts and their corrections. The differences often seemed so small and the letter forms so inconsistent, that I found identifying different hands very difficult. I must admit, I am still far from expert in paleography, but I can pick up on much more now than when I first began. Reading through the Great Isaiah Scroll in particular, I have become intimately familiar with the original hand of the manuscript by sheer repetition. With this familiarity in the background, many of the differences in the corrections practically jump off the page now. And I'm not just talking about the size and color of the scripts. I think this would be a good point to show some of the distinguishing characteristics of the hands to show how such work is done.

* - Original Hand
1 - First Correction (34:17 - 35:2)
2 - Second Correction (37:5-7)


Both corrections show significant differences in the general form of the aleph. The left downstroke meets the diagonal almost at the far upper left corner, instead of the more normal location closer to the middle. The original hand also has more curve to it.


The second correction is quite close to the original hand, but the first correction is clearly distinct. It is more boxy, the horizontal stroke meets close to the top of the rightmost vertical stroke, and the leftmost vertical stroke barely touches the horizontal.


Once again, the second correction is much closer to the original hand than the first correction. The first has sharper angles and bends to the right (instead of the left) at the bottom.

As before, the second correction is much closer to the original hand than the first correction. The first correction does not have the distinct carrot shape of the other two, but is more of a closed wedge shape.

Final Peh

Another example of how the first correction is clearly different from the main hand is his use of a special final form for the letter peh in the word אף. The main hand uses the same form as in the middle of words.
We could line up many such examples to show the precise differences between the different handwritings. These are merely a few letters as examples, but we can draw a few conclusions from them. The first correction is clearly done by a later scribe. The letter forms are quite drastically different from the original hand and exhibit later influences. These differences are so many and so striking that it is impossible to miss them, after you have been reading the Isaiah scroll for a while.

On the other hand, the second correction is written in a hand much more similar to the original hand. From these initial investigations, I suspect that it is a different scribe, due to slightly different letter forms. Nevertheless, because the two hands are so similar in many ways, we would have to look much more carefully to confirm this.
While this is very basic, I hope it helps clarify how scholars really can tell the difference between the handwritings of different scribes. Sometimes it is easy to tell, and other times it is more difficult. But it is always essential to understanding the history of the manuscript and its text.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Identifying Unknown Manuscripts

Today I saw a slideshow of significant manuscripts from the Green Collection, and their image 14 here claimed to be an early text of Genesis from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Since they did not give a precise reference, I thought this might be a fun exercise to go through the process of identifying the text of an unknown manuscript.

Photograph taken from the slide show on Fox at

First, I recognized the partly damaged תאמרון "you will say" in line 3 (not counting the small ink traces at the very top left of the fragment). I figured this probably wouldn't be the best word to search, since it is such a common word and has a somewhat unusual spelling. If I had not known this manuscript was a biblical manuscript, this older spelling might have been a good hint that it was biblical, however.

I then noticed right above it the word שעיר, which I suspected might be the place name "Seir." After searching for this name, I noticed that Genesis 32:4 in the MT has ארצה שעיר שדה "to the land of Seir, the country of...", which exactly matches the preserved letters in line 2, ]אר[  ]שעיר ש.

I then looked to the broader context to see if this identification matched there as well. I immediately saw in the next verse תאמרון "you will say" with the same unusual spelling. By shrinking the column width of my BibleWorks text, I was able to align תאמרון below and slightly to the right of שעיר, which then gave me the approximate column length (about 28 letters). It also helped me identify the partly damaged reading מלאכים "messengers" above and to the left of שעיר. With these three points of contact, we have identified the text conclusively.

Here is my basic transcription and reconstruction of the fragment:

            וישלח יעק]ב מלאכים [לפניו אל עשו אחיו
          אר[צה] שעיר ש[דה אדום ויצו אתם לאמר
            כה תאמרון לא[דני לעשו כה אמר עבדך
          יע]קב עם לבן גרת[י ואחר עד עתה ויהי לי
              שור וחמו[ר צאן ועבד ושפחה ואשלחה  
               ל[הגיד] ל[אדני למצא חן בעיניך וישבו

This text is exactly identical to the consonantal text of the Leningrad Codex, even in matters of orthography. I have identified all of the letters that can be conclusively identified, though there are a number of poorly preserved letters in the reconstructed parts. The last line could have begun with לאדני, since the following word also begins with ל and the tops of two לs appear to have been preserved at the very bottom of the manuscript. The column width probably argues for the reconstruction given above. An empty line is evident above the first line (between the first line and two illegible letters at the very top), indicating that this text begins a new paragraph, as also in the Leningrad Codex.

This manuscript was not listed for this passage in Ulrich's The Biblical Qumran Scrolls, so I knew it was probably not from Qumran. I then checked Lange's Handbuch on the biblical manuscripts, and the only manuscript which seemed to match up with my identification is Mur1 (or MurGen-Ex.Num-a), a Pentateuch manuscript from Murabba'at. The handwriting in the fragment is clearly late, and Lange says Mur1 is in a post-Herodian formal hand from the beginning of the second century AD. According to Lange, this manuscript agrees precisely with the Leningrad Codex, and is therefore clearly proto-Masoretic. Unfortunately, when I looked up Mur1 in DJD 2, Milik's transcription is radically different.

      וישלח יעקב] מלאכים לפניו אל עשו אחיו
      וי]צו [א]תם לאמר

He includes text not in our picture and omits text obvious in our picture, so he was obviously not looking at the same photograph. If that's the case, then I am at a loss as to the identification of the manuscript. It is clearly a Genesis manuscript containing 32:4-6, but I cannot connect it with any manuscripts listed in Lange's Handbuch. Could this be a new fragment, or am I missing something?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dittography in the Great Isaiah Scroll

Generally speaking, I consider it much more common accidentally to omit one of two similar words or phrases in a text (haplography) than to accidentally repeat a phrase (dittography). This is due in part to the fact that mentally engaged scribes are likely to note the repetitive copying of dittography and correct their errors, whereas scribes commiting haplography are more likely to be left unaware of their errors. In reading ancient manuscripts, this seems to bear out statistically. I have been reminded recently, however, about the real possibility of dittography in my reading of the Great Isaiah Scroll. I have recently come across two clear instances of dittography in 1QIsa(a) which serve as good reminders.

Isaiah 31:6

MT: ...שובו לאשר העמיקו
"Return to him whom the sons of Israel have so greatly rebelled against."

1QIsa(a): שוביו לאשר לאשר העמיקו

The Isaiah Scroll here has accidentally repeated the word לאשר translated "to him whom," rendering nonsense.

Isaiah 34:15

MT: בצלה אך שם
"... in its shadow. Also there ..."

1QIsa(a): בצלה אך אך שמה

The Isaiah Scroll here has accidentally repeated the word אך translated "also," rendering nonsense.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Updating, Emendation, and Linguistic Studies

In my recent studies of the Hebrew verb ויהי, I came across a familiar tension between textual and linguistic studies. In a number of places (1 Sam 10:5; 2 Sam 5:24; 1 Kgs 14:5; 1 Chr 14:15; Rut 3:4), the MT uses the imperfect verb וִיהִי when we would expect the weqatal verb וְהָיָה, which normally precedes fronted temporal clauses in non-past contexts. Textual critics commonly emend these forms to their more common forms, whereas linguists commonly insist on explaining them as the only surviving evidence. In this methodological gridlock, who is right?

First, it is important to note that our corpus and understanding of Biblical Hebrew is comparatively limited, so we must remain open to challenging received wisdom with new linguistic insight. It is all too easy to emend away difficult evidence which, properly understood, might shed light on the language and text. We must remain open to exceptions to our grammatical rules and to new insights from modern linguistic studies. We must not simply create the evidence for our linguistic studies with premature emendations.

That said, we must understand the biblical text in its historic context as a text manually transmitted over a vast period of time by scribes of varying characteristics. Some scribes were careful to preserve the text exactly as it lay before them, whereas others felt free to update the text with contemporary spellings and linguistic conventions. We can see this dynamic even in the examples mentioned above, now that we have the Qumran evidence. 4QSam(a), for instance, apparently reads the expected והיה for the MT ויהי in 1 Samuel 10:5. 1QIsa(a), on the other hand, occasionally changes the older form והיה to the updated form ויהי, as in 29:15 and 56:12. Such changes as proposed above, therefore, did in fact occur in the transmission of the text. Examples like these show that linguists are wrong simply to assume the MT text in their analyses, as many of the unique and exceptional forms may have arisen in the course of transmission. Linguists who do so run the risk of proposing explanations that unrealistically merge different temporal stages of Hebrew into a single incoherent mush.

So in the end, I would say neither approach will be consistently right, but rather that they should mutually inform one another. At times, linguistic research will clarify difficult textual problems. At other times, examination of ancient manuscripts, the transmission of the text, and the historical development of the language will provide linguistic studies with a more solid evidentiary basis. The two should always remain in a cooperative tension.

Inconsistent Spelling in the Great Isaiah Scroll

It is important to realize that spelling was not standardized or consistent in many ancient manuscripts. I came across a good example recently from 1QIsaiah(a)--The Great Isaiah Scroll. The Hebrew adverb for "very" is spelled three different ways in the manuscript: מואד in 16:6; 56:12; מאדה in 31:1; and מואדה in 47:6, 9; 52:13; 64:8, 11. These were all apparently written by the same scribe (though there is some debate) within a relatively short period of time. There also do not appear to be any obvious patterns, since the different spellings are scattered about the manuscript, so this example does not support the assertion that the spelling drastically changes in the second part of the manuscript. There are many such cases, even some with more variants (Kutscher Language and Background of the Isaiah Scroll 166-7, lists, for instance, ראש-רואש-ראוש-רוש and זות-זואת-זאות-זאת, among others). We should not necessarily expect to find, therefore, consistent orthography in biblical manuscripts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Demons, Tribulation, Commands, or Incomprehensible Utterances?

Despite the somewhat provocative title, this is not a post about modern Pentecostal practices! :) Rather, it is about a certain orthographic variation I noticed in reading Isaiah 28:10, 13 in the Great Isaiah Scroll. In these verses, the MT has a very difficult series of repetitive expressions. The first is written ץו tsav, and many associate it with the root meaning "command." But the Isaiah Scroll reads ץי tsi, which may mean either "demon" or "ship." The LXX has θλιψιν "tribulation," apparently reading ץר tsar. All of these readings look remarkably similar, as seen in the letter combinations taken from the Isaiah Scroll below:

What does all this mean? The MT reading is likely to have given rise to the other two, but this just goes to show that semantic confusion can often be reflected in textual confusion. There can be little doubt that in the Second Temple period this phrase was just as incomprehensible as it is to us today!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Revelation and the LXX

I just read a good article by Juan Hernández on the text of the LXX in allusions in Revelation,  "Recensional Activity and the Transmission of the Septuagint in John's Apocalypse: Codex Sinaiticus and Other Witnesses", in Die Johannesoffenbarung: Ihr Text und ihre Auslegung (eds. Michael Labahn and Martin Karrer; Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2012). Juan argues that (with a few minor exceptions), the allusions in Revelation do not appear to have been made to conform to the Old Greek. Instead, the initial text of the Apocalypse is at times good evidence for the existence of precursor texts to the later Greek revisions of the LXX (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion). The most interesting example? Revelation 15:3 may provide the earliest evidence for a longer Greek text (parallel to the MT) including Jeremiah 10:7 (not in the Old Greek).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Upgrade Chapter Submitted!

I finally submitted the upgrade chapter for my Ph.D. progress review! Hopefully the reader will be gentle and have some helpful feedback. I will have a progress review panel in May, and then I'm home free! Except for the dissertation... :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Online Book on Arabic Codicology

I recently found an interesting book on Arabic codicology online here. Adam Gacek, Arabic Manuscripts: a Vademecum for Readers (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 1, The Near and Middle East, volume 98). It looks quite helpful for those interested in Arabic manuscripts.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The 2nd St. Andrews Graduate Conference for Biblical and Early Christian Studies

St. Andrews will be hosting a graduate biblical studies conference on 8-9 June 2012 on the theme "Manuscripts and their texts: perspectives on textual criticism." They are accepting paper proposals now. It promises to be an interesting conference! See you there!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Second Annual University of Birmingham Biblical Studies Postgraduate Day Conference

Wednesday, 6 June 2012 will be the second annual University of Birmingham Biblical Studies Postgraduate Day Conference. The theme is "Biblical Texts and Reception History: Retrospect and Prospects." Mark it in your calendars! We are now accepting paper proposals on related topics. See below for the call for papers:


6 June 2012 (Wednesday), 10.00am—3.30pm
European Research Institute (ERI), Ground Floor
Pritchatts Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham

The University of Birmingham, in conjunction with the Department of Theology and Religion, is pleased to announce the Second University of Birmingham Biblical Studies Day Conference, open to all Postgraduate Researchers of the University of Birmingham and other Universities.
A number of new perspectives about biblical manuscripts have come to light in the last 100 years, and this development has presented new challenges and opportunities that need to be reflected upon, especially by those in the academe. This conference aims to highlight previous researches and recent developments in the area of the studies of these biblical texts and to explore how these texts have been construed throughout the centuries, and how these affect, if they do, future studies and reception of the same. To set the parameters for discussion, we have invited two guest speakers to share their own professional journeys insofar as the biblical texts are concerned: Prof Larry Hurtado, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology, University of Edinburgh, and, Dr Simon Crisp, Coordinator for Translation Standards and Scholarly Editions, United Bible Societies (UBS).

SHORT PAPERS of twenty five minutes from postgraduate researchers in the UK are very much welcome, especially in the areas of (but not limited to):

Early and Later Reception of the Biblical Texts (OT/Hebrew Bible and NT)
Interpretation of Biblical Texts in Early Christianity, and in other religions
Circulation of Christian and Biblical Texts and/or their manuscripts
Recent Developments in the Study of OT/Hebrew Bibles and New Testament
Texts and Versions
Biblical and Christian Texts in light of Modern Interpretive Models (e.g., Feminist, Pentecostal, Cultural Studies, etc.)
Scriptural Exegesis in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha
Pseudepigrapha and Early Christian Interpretation of Scripture

Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to Edgar Ebojo on or before 1 April 2012. Successful proposals will be notified accordingly.
This conference is FREE, but pre-registration is required, for logistical purposes (please contact Georgia Michaels or Edgar Ebojo). For conference location, do visit <>; ERI is designated as G3.

If you need Edgar's or Georgia's e-mails, they are at the bottom of the announcement poster.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Augustine on "Post-Biblical" Inspiration

Most scholars would agree that a number of OT biblical books were composed by a series of compositions, compilations, supplementations, revisions, or updatings into their literary wholes as we have them today. Talmon and others have also pointed out that the Qumran sectarians believed that they were continuing the process of this inspired production of Scripture. Reading Roberts' The Old Testament Text and Versions today, I was struck by a quote from Augustine's De Civitate Dei xviii. 44 that sounded strangely parallel: "Whatever is to be found in the LXX, but is not in the Hebrew codices, the spirit preferred to say by the inspired interpreters rather than by the inspired seers." Thus, for Augustine (as with the Qumran sect), the process of Scripture formation and divine inspiration was ongoing in the "post-biblical" period (i.e., in the translation of the LXX). God gave revelation to the prophets (preserved in the Hebrew MSS), but he continued to give revelation through the translators (preserved in the Greek MSS). I just found this parallel intriguing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On Distinguishing "Biblical" from "Para-Biblical" Manuscripts

One key categorical question that textual critics must answer in examining the text is which MSS should be classified as "biblical," as opposed to other "non-biblical" MSS. This task (and the terminology) have been the source of extraordinary controversy in the post-Qumran era. There is obviously a sense in which the term "biblical" is anachronistic, if "biblical" is understood in the sense of the books collected within the pages of a single book (or codex), which was never the case at Qumran. Perhaps when trying to understand the perceptions of texts from the perspective of the Qumran sect, a term such as "Scripture" would be more appropriate, though this (and all other potential terms) still leaves room for some confusion. Despite its limitations, the term "biblical" is still helpful as a conscious anachronism, denoting the books which would later be included in the Hebrew "Bible." Other works are clearly independent of these "biblical" books, and thus may be called "non-biblical." Yet other books, however, are closely related to the "biblical" books and are meant to be read alongside them, so they may be called "para-biblical" texts. I will use these terms here for lack of better alternatives and to focus on one specific point, not to get distracted by terminological intricacies. While "non-biblical" texts are generally easily distinguished from "biblical" texts, the border between the "biblical" and "para-biblical" is often not well-defined, if indeed it is even affirmed. My recent reading in Sidnie White Crawford's Rewriting Scripture in Second Temple Times and Michael Stone's Ancient Judaism: New Visions and Views has prompted further consideration of this boundary, and especially prompted appreciation of two criteria that I think are extremely significant. I would like to explore these criteria a little more closely and propose a tentative sorting mechanism for distinguishing "biblical" from "para-biblical" texts.

1) Replacement

The first criterion I found particularly helpful was the distinction of whether or not a given text was intended to replace a prior "biblical" text. A standard copy of a "biblical" book would be intended to further the transmission of the prior work and replace it as a newer copy. On the other hand, the nature of some works is that they are not intended to replace the prior work, but rather to complement the prior work and be read alongside of it. This criterion, to me, seems to be the determining factor in whether a book should be considered "biblical" or "para-biblical." It may not always be easy to tell the intention of a work (or its reception in a community), but it is nevertheless important.

2) Innovation

The second criterion I found helpful was the distinction of whether or not a scribe felt free to invent new material. While some scribes carefully copied without alteration the text before them, others felt free alter the text with information culled from the text itself. For instance, some may have chosen explicitly to harmonize passages assumed to be harmonious in the prior work. Others may have rearranged material from the prior work to emphasize certain points or group thematically similar passages. Still others may have explicated clarifying information interpreted to be implicit in the text. But in each of these cases, the scribes were acting on a relatively conservative impulse, that, while permitting some changes, restricted those changes to material available (explicitly or implicitly) from the prior work. On the other hand, some scribes may have felt free to add their own inovations to the text that could not be derived from the prior text itself. They may have incorporated additional stories familiar through oral or written traditions or even composed them themselves. They may have reworked the prior text into an entirely new literary structure with its own rhetorical aims independent of those of the prior text. Each of these scribes would have engaged in textual innovation, adding material not accessible from the prior text itself.

Based on these two primary criteria, I think we can find a helpful paradigm for sorting out "biblical" texts from other types.

Innovation                                     Replacement

                              Substitutionary                         Complementary
Conservative             "biblical"                               "para-biblical"
                                    (copy)                              (e.g., excerpt texts)        

Innovative                 "biblical"                               "para-biblical"
                               (new edition)                    (e.g., rewritten Scripture)

This paradigm allows us to discern four distinct categories.

Conservative Substitutionary - These are simple copies of "biblical" books which are intended to replace other copies and do not add significant information beyond what is inferable from the prior text. They are clearly to be considered "biblical."

Innovative Substitutionary - These are copies of "biblical" books which are intended to replace other copies but also add significant information beyond what is inferable from the prior text. They are to be considered "biblical," but their innovations identify them as new editions of the prior "biblical" books. Perhaps this could provide a relatively simple definition for the otherwise difficult to define "variant editions" of "biblical" texts?

Conservative Complementary - These are new compositions intended to be read alongside the prior "biblical" texts, but which do not add significant information beyond what is inferable from the prior text. Examples might be excerpt texts, which select passages from "biblical" texts without significant modification and rearrange them for theological or referential purposes.

Innovative Complementary - These are new compositions intended to be read alongside the prior "biblical" texts and add significant information beyond what is inferable from the prior text. Examples would be those works commonly included in the category of "Rewritten Scripture" (e.g., Jubilees, Genesis Apocryphon, etc.), which are intended to be read alongside their prior "biblical" books and provide additional information.

While these criteria (as with all criteria) are bound to encounter complicating factors, I suspect they accurately describe the differences between the different classes of literature. I further suspect that these qualitative criteria lead to more helpful distinctions than a sliding scale or spectrum based primarily on quantitative criteria.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2 Kings 4 and Qumran Orthography?

In reading 2 Kings 4 recently, I was struck by the unusual number of Kethib-Qere readings and their consistent pattern. Throughout the chapter, feminine pronouns commonly have an additional י at the end, as in Aramaic. This spelling is also commonly found in manuscripts from Qumran. Under other circumstances, the MT of 2 Kings 4 could have been said to have exhibited "Qumran orthography." Because there are so many examples in 2 Kings 4, Kutscher (Isaiah Scroll: 211) says this might be a remnant of the Northern Hebrew (Israelite) dialect, though these readings are not consistent even in 2 Kings 4. It is equally possible that the MT here has experienced the same type of textual corruption as is commonly found at Qumran, namely, the influence of the Aramaic-influenced dialect of later scribes. A number of cautions come to mind from these results.

1) It should not be lightly assumed that the orthography and peculiarities of the Qumran MSS are unique to this community. Their scribal practices almost certainly shared common characteristics with their non-sectarian peers.

2) Even the MT (despite its normally conservative orthography) is not entirely immune to influences from the dialects of later scribes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stemmatics in OTTC

I have recently been in e-mail conversation with Philip Engmann, a Ph.D. student in Ghana trying to sort out his own OTTC methods, and our discussions have raised a few points worth noting for further consideration. One in particular is key: the role of stemmatics in OTTC. While most would recognize the value of creating a genealogical tree for the various manuscripts, in practice stemmatics has played a very minor role in OTTC for a number of reasons.

1) Very few actual manuscripts can be definitively genealogically related. There are far too many gaps in the manuscript tradition to connect all (or even many) manuscripts. This is especially true of the older witnesses.

2) When scholars have attempted to determine the genealogical relationships of ancient traditions, they have generally done so only in the most general of terms. Perhaps the SP and LXX come from an early common tradition separate from the MT? Perhaps the MT, SP, and LXX should be understood as local texts from Babylon, Palestine, and Egypt?

3) Most of the evidence from the Dead Sea region is fragmentary and difficult to use to reconstruct the textual history.

4) The variety of the ancient sources does not easily lend itself to a consistent stemmatic arrangement, but rather reflects a complex situation of mixed texts without obvious or consistent patterns.

Because of this, stemmatics have generally played very little role in the decisions of OT textual critics. Most OT textual critics approach the text from a much more eclectic perspective, picking and choosing preferred variants based on internal probabilities, rather than a reconstruction of the textual history. Whether or not this is the best solution is open for debate, but the trend does seem to be clear. In my dissertation, I will specifically be looking at the third point about the Dead Sea scrolls and what they tell us about the textual history of the OT.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Critical Edition of the Text of the Genesis Flood Narrative

I recently completed a first draft of my critical edition of the Hebrew text of the Genesis Flood Narrative (Genesis 6:5-9:17). It is significantly too long and detailed for the chapter that I was originally assigned to write, but significant portions of it should be published next fall (primarily the chronology). Hopefully I will be able to find a publisher willing to publish the entire work some time in the future. I will keep the blog updated with any developments. If anyone has any questions on specific textual problems in the Genesis Flood narrative, I would be happy to discuss my conclusions.

Lawrence Schiffman on the Dead Sea Scrolls

Lawrence Schiffman put up a tour of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in New York here that some might find interesting.