[b-hebrew] Re: Emendations, was: Deut 32:5 SHiCHeT
Trevor & Julie Peterson
06peterson at cua.edu
Wed Jan 29 06:18:33 EST 2003
> I have the feeling that you decide whether a text is corrupt
> based on your u
> nderstanding of it. If so, this is methodologically wrong.
On whose understanding should I decide? :-)
> A text can be
> corrupt but perfectly understandable, and a text can be totally
> ununderstandable, but genuine.
True. I hope I haven't given the indication that I disagree with this idea.
> You must rely firstly on *evidence* (just like in court), otherwise - your
> opinion (or mine) isn't worth more than my 5-years-old brother's guesses.
I suppose the effect of that remark depends on how well your 5-year-old
brother knows BH. But I'm not disagreeing with the need for evidence.
Perhaps, however, we're not following the same rules for admitting evidence.
> For example:
> The idea that the text in Dt. 32:5 is corrupt is based on the *facts* that
> many good and old witnesses display different versions: the
> samaritan hebrew
> version, some aramaic translations and the LXX (See BHS). But when there
> are less witnesses for another version, the case for corruption weakens (I
> remind you our little discussion about Hosea 13:14).
But just having other readings doesn't necessarily show a text to be
corrupt. Those other versions may be struggling to explain what is a
naturally awkward passage. I haven't been trying to give a full explanation
of how I think textual criticism ought to work. I was simply trying to make
a very specific methodological point, that there's no use trying to show how
a passage makes sense as it stands, when you've already judged it to be
corrupt. Of course, variant readings need to be examined. But their mere
existence doesn't prove that a text is corrupt any more than their absence
proves that the text is intact. In addition to variants, especially with
something like the Hebrew Bible, where none of our witnesses are as early or
as useful (i.e., in Hebrew, rather than some other language that introduces
a new set of problems) as we might like, we have to work with critical
models. Variant readings do nothing for me, if I don't have a definable
method of evaluating them. But why admit only one type of evidence? By this
standard, I should go back and re-read Davies's book by trying to make sense
of everything it says exactly as it says it. I don't have a variant copy to
compare, and I don't know how willingly he would give me a copy of the
original manuscript (which probably had all the same mistakes anyway). But
somehow I don't think that ever stops any of us from doing our own textual
criticism on everything we read (or hear).
> Understanding relies on grammar and lexicon; but both grammar and lexicon
> were made based on understanding! It's a vecious circle. You must have an
> "archimedian point", an outside testimony, to decide whether a text is
> corrupt, you cannot use intterpretation - at least not if you want your
> articles published in good periodicles :)
Which periodicals do you read? And who are the second-rate scholars that
edit BHS? This is not a new or unusual method by any means, but for all
that, I would hope that by now we've grown in our realization that evidence
is always filtered through a model. I hope we're not too far off-topic for
B-Hebrew, BTW. I really think these issues are particularly relevant for TC
in the Hebrew Bible especially, but I don't know that we should go on
discussing them at length. This started with a response to a rather specific
textual issue that we seem to have finished discussing.
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