LXX-induced errors

Polycarp66 at aol.com Polycarp66 at aol.com
Thu May 30 09:40:21 EDT 2002

In a message dated 5/30/2002 1:52:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
hefinjones at hotmail.com writes:

Am I correct in thinking that in fact there is an exant hebrew vorlage for
"Jesus Sirak" as Troels called it? Wasnt there one in the Cairo Genizah and
more from the Judean Desert?

I quote you part of the article in the _Anchor Bible Dictionary_, s.v.,
"Wisdom of Ben-Sira"

D. Text and Versions

Ben Sira wrote his book in Hebrew, as the grandson states explicitly in the
foreword to the Greek translation. The original Hebrew text began to
disappear, however, after the rabbis excluded the book from the Jewish canon 
(see C.1 above). For centuries the Hebrew text was known from only a few
quotations found in the Talmudic and rabbinical literature. The Greek and
Syriac versions, from which all other translations (ancient and modern) had
been made, became the principal witnesses to the book.

1. Original Hebrew Text. Between 1896 and 1900, many fragments of the book
were identified from the vast collection of materials recovered from the
Geniza (storage room for worn-out or discarded mss) of the Qaraite Synagogue
in Old Cairo. These were parts of four distinct mss (A B C D); a fifth ms (E)
was discovered by J. Marcus (1931). These mss were dated from the 10th to the
12th centuries. In 1958 and 1960, a few more leaves of mss B and C were
identified (Di Lella 1964). Qumran Cave 2 yielded two small pieces of the
book, 2Q18 (Baillet, Milik, and de Vaux 1962: pl. 15) from the second half of
the 1st century b.c. Qumran Cave 11 produced 11QPsa (Sanders 1965), dating
from the first half of the 1st century a.d.; it contains 51:13=E2=80=9320, 30b. Y.
Yadin (1965) published the important Masada fragments (39:27=E2=80=9344:17)
that date=20
to the first half of the 1st century b.c. Finally, A. Scheiber (1982) found, 
among the Geniza materials of the Taylor-Schechter Additional Series
collection at Cambridge University Library, a new leaf of Ben Sira and the
corner fragment of a damaged leaf of ms C (first published in 1900). Scheiber
(1982: 179=E2=80=9380) states that the new leaf (containing 31:24=E2=80=9332:7 and
32:12=E2=80=9333:8) is from ms D. This identification, however, is wrong for two
reasons: (1) the new leaf is written stichometrically (like mss B and E and
the Masada ms) whereas ms D is not so written; and (2) the handwriting is
different from ms D. The leaf cannot be from ms E either, for ms E (a single 
leaf containing 32:16=E2=80=9334:1) has some of the same bicola found in the  new
leaf, and the hands are not the same. Hence I conclude that what Scheiber has
found is a portion of a sixth manuscript, hitherto unknown. I give the name
ms F to this new leaf (Di Lella 1988). About 68 percent of the book is now
extant in Hebrew: some 2,200 cola of the 3,221 that are found in Codex B of
the Greek (Swete 1907: 754).
Not long after the discovery of the original Hebrew of the book at the turn
of the century, a few scholars began to doubt the authenticity of the Cairo
Geniza mss. Some argued that the Geniza text was retroverted from the Syriac.
Others proposed that it was translated from Greek or from Greek and Syriac.
I. L=C3=A9vi (1904), after several changes of heart, maintained that the Geniza
text is substantially authentic although it contains some retroversions from 
the Syriac. Today the controversy has abated, thanks primarily to the
discovery of the Masada scroll (Yadin 1965: 7, 10), which supports the=20
authenticity of Cairo ms B and indirectly the other mss as well. The
scholarly consensus is that the Geniza mss are essentially authentic (DiLella 1966b: 


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