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.


  1. Dear Drew, pardon my ignorance, and I stand corrected, but isn't this what the Oxford University Bible Project is doing? preparing an eclectic OT text?

  2. Yes, Philip, the Oxford Hebrew Bible project is preparing eclectic editions of the entire OT Hebrew text. Ron Hendel is doing the volume on Genesis. In fact, he has already published a critical edition of the text of Genesis 1-11 in 1998. The thing about eclectic editions is that they are scholarly reconstructions of text, and as such reflect the conclusions of scholars, who often disagree with one another. Hendel's 1998 edition is not the final edition of the text. Nor will mine be. Nor will the OHB edition be. It is a constant process of dialogue between textual scholars and (hopefully) progress. My edition intends to add to this discussion in a number of ways.

    1) It is primarily a response to Hendel's 1998 edition. Hendel has done a good work, and we are greatly indebted to his critical judgments. However, I believe there are some significant deficiencies in his edition. The most important for the section I have considered is the date he prefers at 8:14, which I think is not a particularly good solution. Another example is his treatment of MT plusses relative to the LXX. I think he often prefers the shorter text too quickly without adequately dealing with the LXX translation style. There are a number of other treatments of the LXX which lack nuance.

    2) My edition, though more limited in scope than an edition of the entire book of Genesis, is also much more detailed. I have written over 100 pages of textual commentary covering almost every variant in the Flood narrative, arguing for my conclusions. Larger editions (including Hendel's) do not normally have room for fuller discussion like this. This also allows me explicitly to respond to other positions or possible solutions. It seems that Hendel often fails to do this, or at least does not have space to include his full thoughts.

    3) I have taken into account a number of non-biblical Qumran manuscripts that shed light on the text of the Flood narrative that Hendel does not cite.

    So in a sense, there is much redundancy between Hendel's and my work, but I think this can actually be quite productive.