Friday, January 23, 2015

An Author's Text in an Editor's Hands

Update: Just so everyone is aware, the editorial team at Logos has expressed apologies for the mishap and is currently revising the published text discussed below to account for changes I suggested. This is one of the many great advantages of electronic resources! I consider myself a satisfied Logos user and would gladly publish with them again. I cite this only as an interesting example of something that temporarily slipped through the cracks in the complicated modern publication process.

I recently had the opportunity to write a series of short dictionary entries for the Logos e-publication The Lexham Bible Dictionary, including "Ancient Libraries," "Masorah," and "Masoretes." Overall it was a fairly pleasant experience. On reading the final versions in the Logos resource, however, I immediately noticed differences between my submitted version and the published version. There were clear stylistic differences from my own work and a whole host of other problems that clearly betrayed to me an editor's hands. Sometimes the editor improved the text by making it more concise or simpler for a lay audience, which was not particularly objectionable. But at other times, the editor altered the text in significant (and to my mind detrimental) ways. I would like to explore briefly the interaction between author and editor in this publication process. To do this, I will list some of the more interesting/disturbing examples of the published version (in italic font) and the submitted version (in bold italics).

Perhaps of interest for all my Qumran friends, with the omission of a single word, it seems I am now committed in (electronic) print to the Essene hypothesis (!).
  • Khirbet Qumran, a communal residence associated with the Jewish Essene sect.
  • Khirbet Qumran, a community residence in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea commonly associated with the Jewish sect called the Essenes

Some changes rendered the text garbled nonsense.
  • Many scholars suggest the term comes for the root often considered to mean “to transmit,” thus concluding that the Masorah tradition is transmitted from generation to generation preserve the text
  • Most scholars relate the word to the root מסר, whose precise nuance is contested. Many suppose the common root meaning “to transmit,” thus concluding that the Masorah is the body of traditions transmitted from generation to generation for preserving the text.

One particularly egregious structural rearrangement makes the Masorah magna a subset of the Masorah parva.
  • Many Masorah parva notes indicate the number of times a particular word or group of words occurs in a certain form within a portion of Scripture, sometimes listing alternative forms found elsewhere. These notes are designed as an external control to ensure its precise preservation. Many types of Masorah parva notes exist, but the two most frequent include:
    • 1.   Kethiv/Qere. [only section headings listed]
    • 2.   Masorah Magna.
  • There are many types of Masorah parva notes, of which two of the most frequent and important are discussed here.
    • 1. Usage Statistics -- Many Masorah parva notes indicate the number of times a particular word or group of words occurs in a certain form within a portion of Scripture, sometimes listing alternative forms from elsewhere. These notes are designed as an external control on the copying of the text to ensure its precise preservation.
    • 2. Kethiv versus Qere
  • Masorah Magna [i.e., new section header]

There were also a number of problematic transliterations.
  • Other scholars derive it from the root ‘sr [i.e., ayin for aleph], “to bind”
  • Other scholars derive it from the root אסר “to bind”
  • ben Asher reads יִשָּׂשכָר (yissoshkhar)
  • ben Asher reads יִשָּׂשכָר

All this just goes to show the complexity of the entire concept of an "authorial text," no less in the present age than in antiquity. Once I emailed the file to submit it to Logos, the text was truly out of my hands and at the mercy of others. There are probably some devious literary critics smiling right now...


 





2 comments: