Monday, November 30, 2015

SBL 2015 - Part 2

In part 2 we will survey some of the text-critically relevant papers from SBL 2015, though there were many others I was not able to attend.

The combined Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible/Philology in Hebrew Studies session with the theme "Theory and Practice in Textual Criticism: The HBCE Project" was a stimulating session. Sidnie White Crawford discussed the use of the Temple Scroll for her edition of Deuteronomy, suggesting that it has affinities with the Septuagint, but that its unique readings are always secondary. Interestingly, the TS reads an imperfect based on יבחר "will choose" against the perfect בחר "has chosen" in Deuteronomy, further demonstrating that the variant readings are both old readings. Ronald Troxel gave a heavily theoretical paper on what exactly is the nature of "text," insisting that "text" is a socially constructed, unifying concept that supersedes its multiple instantiations in manuscripts. Ingrid Lilly pushed back on how overly rigid generic categories can lead scholars to make textual decisions based on literary expectations that may be foreign to the works they are examining.

Brandon Bruning suggested that the phrase מראת הצבאת in Exodus 38:8[Heb] should be taken as "visions concerning the troops," explaining it in the context of the construction of the tabernacle according to the pattern "shown" to Moses throughout Exodus. Jason Bembry suggested that the LXX-B reading "his concubine went away from him" in Judges 19:2 came first (there is also no hint of sexual immorality in Josephus), which later interpreters took rather as the woman "committing harlotry" or "getting angry at the man". Julio Trebolle Barrera presented a very detailed paper demonstrating that documented redactional seams often occur at points marked in manuscripts by vacats to indicate text segmentation. Urmas Nõmmik suggested some specific, undocumented literary critical developments in the Hebrew tradition of Job based on comparison with the Old Greek text. And Seth Adcock suggested that the shorter text of Jeremiah 10 was abbreviated from the longer text to accommodate an apotropaic usage in light of an interpretation of the Aramaic verse 10:11.

In a session on recognizing the Kaige recension in the historical books, Andrés Piquer Otero examined a number of cases where good old Georgian readings permit the identification of Kaige readings in the Lucianic text. Tuukka Kauhanen proposed a diagnostic model for identifying Kaige based on observable symptoms in the text, in much the same way doctors diagnose illnesses from symptoms. Pablo Torijano Morales argued that Ra 460 should be considered an Antiochean or Lucianic manuscript especially closely related to 700, yielding now seven Antiochean manuscripts in Kings (19-108 82-93-127-460-700). Julio Trebolle Barrera showed that 158 and 56-246 have numerous Antiochean readings inserted into their generally Kaige texts, often in the form of doublets.

In a session on textual criticism of the Pentateuch and Daniel, I argued that preserved manuscript remains and reconstructions suggest that approximately half of the copies of the book of Exodus evident from the Qumran remains were in fact situated in large pentateuchal collections, in most cases probably complete Torah scrolls. I illustrated the process of reconstructing 4QExod-c as a complete Torah scroll by showing that Exodus began in the middle of a column (suggesting it was preceded by Genesis) and that the circumference of the scroll was so large that it must have contained a text approximately the same length as the rest of the Pentateuch. David Rothstein showed how a variant reading in 4QPhyl-k and several Kennicott manuscripts finds reflexes in later rabbinic interpretations of Deut 11:4, with the waters pursuing the Egyptians. Dan McClellan supported the interpolation theory to explain the occurrence of the "angel" of the Lord and suggested cognitive scientific parallels to his proposed development of the concept. Amanda McGuire noted and evaluated the many differences between the Old Greek and MT/Theodotion in Daniel 9:27.

In a joint Aramaic Studies/Qumran session in honor of Moshe Bernstein, Edward Cook addressed the complications of distinguishing between ambiguity, polysemy, and contextual variation in lexicography. I was unfortunately unable to attend a talk by Loren Stuckenbruck on the translation of Aramaic forms into Greek in several works composed in Aramaic, as well as one by Jan Joosten on the need to look broadly at the history of Aramaic to read texts like the Genesis Apocryphon. Daniel Machiela explored the use of wisdom motifs in unexpected places in various Aramaic text. And Michael Segal suggested that Daniel 6 (particularly in the MT tradition) was assimilated to parallels in Daniel 3 and in Esther.

An entire IOSCS session was devoted to reviewing Frank Shaw's The Earliest Non-Mystical Jewish Use of IAO, with responses by Ronald Troxel, Kristin De Troyer, Robert Kraft, and Martin Rösel. In this book Shaw discusses the earliest evidence for the use of ιαω for the tetragrammaton, though he never comes down conclusively on the question of whether or not this transliteration was originally used by the Septuagint translators. The respondents were generally appreciative--though with critical feedback--but Martin Rösel disagreed sharply at points.

A good Qumran session rounded off the conference, with Matthew Goff suggesting that rabbinic sources can shed light on the fragmentary Qumran material from the Book of Giants. Seth Adcock reiterated his defense of the longer text of Jeremiah 10. Moshe Bernstein gave a review of early generic classifications of the Genesis Apocryphon, as well as noting their weaknesses and reflections in contemporary discussions. I then suggested a number of textual groups and statistical clusters that can be identified from within the Qumran corpus of Exodus materials, perhaps most importantly a newly-recognized tight group consisting of 4QpaleoGen-Exod-l and 4QExod-c. Ira Rabin then examined the results of her chemical analysis of several scrolls, suggesting that 1QIsa-a, 1QS, and 1QSb were prepared according to the same process. As usual, she included a number of little gems, such as explaining how--before the use of lime treatments for parchment, which dissolves the fat layer between the layers of skin and fuses them into a single layer--ancient parchment preparers could split the skins into two separate layers, producing very fine writing supports.

All in all, it was a great conference with many challenging topics. I got to meet many new people and catch up with old friends, and I consider the conference a great success.


  1. Dear Drew, I would like to know your opinion on the textual criticism and translation of Daniel 9:27, only the clause:
    וְעַל כְּנַף שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם . Do you think that עַל כְּנַף was the intended expression? Do you think that we should read שִׁקּוּצִים , מְשֹׁמֵם, taking מְשֹׁמֵם as the subject, or rather, as LXX suggests, we should read שִׁקּוּצִי המְשֹׁמֵם?

  2. Unfortunately, I haven't worked on that problem. Taking a quick look at it now, it looks like quite a difficult passage, but I don't really have any considered opinion about it. Do you have any thoughts on how it should be read?

  3. Thank you for reply.
    Yes, I have some thoughts, but it is difficult to take a final decision. Unfortunately, even Dominique Barthelemy did not approach verses 24-27. My observations are following:
    1. I think that the best reading of the phrase שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם is found in LXX. Probably, their Vorlage read שִׁקּוּצִי המְשֹׁמֵם . This is to be prefferred, because it occurs in related variants in 8:13; 11:31; 12:11, and it is probably reffered in Mat. 24:15.

    2. The expression עַל כְּנַף seems to me dubious. Its normal use is in plural (Ex. 19:4; Nu. 15:38; 2 Sa. 22:11; Job 37:3; Ps. 18:11; 104:3). The expression עַל כְּנַף might stand for the more usual עַל־כַּנּוֹ (in his/its place, cf. Dan. 11:20, 21, 38) or in the plural עַל־כַּנָּם ; or, if עַל כְּנַף is prefferred, it must be followed by a more acceptable noun (e.g. τὸ ἱερὸν, cf. LXX; see also the very interesting expression ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, in Mat 4:5, and possibly a link to the tradition oabout Messiah coming on the temple’s roof, according to Midrash Pesiqta Rabbati 36:8).

    3. To imagine a desolating power who comes (or sits) on „wings of abominations” is quite a weird metaphor. It is not impossible (especially in modern poetry), but it is very discordant among the other Biblical metaphors.

    4. It seems that at least one word is missing from the clause, since vss 24-27 are poetry, and this one would be a stych too short (incomplete):

    שבעים שבעים נחתך על־עמך ועל־עיר קדשך
    לכלא הפשע ולחתם חטאות ולכפר עון
    ולהביא צדק עלמים ולחתם חזון ונביא ולמשח קדש קדשים׃
    ותדע ותשכל
    מן־מצא דבר להשיב ולבנות ירושלם עד־משיח נגיד
    שבעים שבעה ושבעים ששים ושנים
    תשוב ונבנתה רחוב וחרוץ ובצוק העתים׃

    ואחרי השבעים ששים ושנים
    יכרת משיח ואין לו והעיר והקדש
    ישחית עם נגיד הבא וקצו בשטף
    ועד קץ מלחמה נחרצת שממות׃

    והגביר ברית לרבים שבוע אחד
    וחצי השבוע ישבית זבח ומנחה
    ועל כנף * * שקוצים משמם
    ועד־כלה ונחרצה תתך על־שמם׃

    Thank you for reading my comment!
    Florin Lăiu, MTh