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.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

SBL 2015 - Part 1

The first SBL session I went to today was a very helpful session on critical editions from the German Bible Society. Richard Weis reviewed in detail the historical development of editorial principles that set the stage for BHQ, which he illustrated from examples in the new Genesis volume by Abraham Tal. Kay Joe Petzold discussed the editorial concepts behind the Masorah in BHS and BHQ, the latter of which is a more strictly diplomatic presentation of the Masorah in the Leningrad Codex, against Gérard Weil's attempts to reconstruct a single Masorah against L in BHS.

On the New Testament side, Holger Strutwolf announced the new NA/UBS editorial committee: Christos Karakolis, David Parker, Stephen Pisano, David Trobisch, and Klaus Wachtel. David Trobisch then gave a preliminary look at key issues discussed by the committee, stressing his desire to rearrange the books of the NT according to the order of ancient manuscripts.

Joseph Sanzo and Ra'anan Boustan stressed the difficulties of identifying Christian or Jewish socio-religious backgrounds to ancient magical texts and artifacts, given shared cultural elements. This, or course, is a complex problem in trying to understand the background of Septuagint manuscripts as well.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Evangelical Theological Society 2015

The Evangelical Theological Society held its annual meeting in Atlanta from 17-19 November, and I thought I would summarize some of the text-critically relevant papers for those who did not attend.

Russell Fuller and Richard McDonald argued that the study and teaching of Hebrew should be based on the use of Arabic grammatical categories, since it is the closest living language with a long history of grammatical analysis. They suggested that modern linguistic approaches have led to more confusion than insight, and that the use of native Semitic grammatical analyses better explains many phenomena. I must admit that the idea that we even need a paradigm language seems to me unnecessarily limiting. Neither does native Arabic grammar seem to me necessarily to be the best tool for studying Hebrew grammar. Nevertheless, it was a good reminder that we stand in a long line of grammatical tradition, and we would do well not to neglect the study of earlier grammarians and cognate languages.

Benjamin Giffone presented a theological paper on the problem for Evangelical bibliologies of defining a single, definitive text in a tradition that was repeatedly edited. He suggested that it is all but inevitable to have to appeal to "Catholic" arguments from community determination. He raised many insightful, probing theological questions, but unfortunately had no particular answer to give.

Eric Tully presented a helpful model for distinguishing between textual variants in a source language text and translation shifts in a target language text. He suggested gradually accumulating a database of tentative conclusions on individual readings, which can then inform later decisions or be corrected by later decisions. This iterative approach is not particularly new, but it was nice to see it clearly laid out.

Chris Stevens compared Titus in P32 and Sinaiticus, showing that the two are almost completely identical. He also used Sinaiticus to reconstruct the lacunae in P32 (rather than the NA text), further showing how close they are based on the near-perfect fit. I personally am a big fan of comparing the early witnesses to each other directly, rather than through intermediary textual witnesses or editions, so I appreciated that part of his paper.

Michael Kruger reevaluated P.Antinoopolis 12 (0232), a miniature codex containing 2 John. He suggested a 5th century date based on the physical features of the codex and the hand. He noted an error in the editio princeps, which led to a major error in the reconstruction of the codex. While admittedly speculative, he suggested that Hebrews may have been included in the codex along with the Catholic epistles, which would fill up the requisite amount of text indicated by the page numbers on the fragment.

Tomas Bokedal reviewed the history of the study of the nomina sacra, suggesting that Jesus was the primary member of the group of five reflecting an early core. He suggests the other names were chosen to line up with Christological creeds, indicating titles attributed to Jesus. This, of course, would imply a Christian origin for the nomina sacra.

Eric Mitchell presented on an unpublished fragment of Deuteronomy located at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I missed the first part of the presentation, but if I understand correctly, it is a late 1st century BCE fragment from Qumran with regular morphologically long 2mp suffixes, but only one (semi-)meaningful difference from the MT. Unfortunately, the fragment reads the broken word י]בחר, so I don't know if it is possible to tell whether it read the perfect (SP) or imperfect (MT) in that important ideological difference, though Eric reconstructed with the MT.

I caught the last part of Peter Gurry's paper on the textual variants in the divorce passages in the Gospels in light of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method. Among other things, he suggested that genealogical coherence suggests a preference for a longer reading in Matt. 19:9.

Nicholas Perrin argued against Watson that P. Egerton 2 does not witness to a pre-Johannine source, but is rather secondary. Among other arguments, he suggests that key stylistic features of the common text are part of broader themes in John that cannot be explained on the basis of P. Egerton 2 alone.

David Yoon looked at the use of ekthesis (putting the first letter of a line in the margin for visual prominence) in Galatians in Sinaiticus, suggesting that the text segments divided by ekthesis cannot be identified as paragraphs according to modern understandings, since they occur too frequently and sometimes even mid-sentence. He did not come to a definitive conclusion as to what exactly was the function of the scribal practice.