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.