[B-Greek] Psalm 39:7 LXX

Pastor Mark Eddy markeddy at adams.net
Mon Dec 22 15:28:59 EST 2003

I know that we are into the area of text criticism here, so we may want to continue this off-list, but
since I preached on Hebrews 10 this last week-end (and it relies on the reading SWMA KATHRTISW MOI), I did
some more looking into how Psa 39:7 LXX has been read over the years. So I shall summarize what I found
here. But I would apreciate some answers to my questions below, and some input about any post-Rahlfs
studies that may have been done on this text.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Albert Pietersma" <albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca>

> That Kirkpatrick and Westcott in 1903 would cite "the Septuagint" as
> reading SWMA in Ps 39:7 is precisely what one would expect since their
> exemplar of the "the Septuagint" clearly read SWMA. Since Rahlfs'
> critical edition of 1931 it has been clear, however,  that SWMA belongs
> to the RECEPTION HISTORY of the Old Greek text, but NOT to its

The evidence that I have seen so far leads me to the opinion that this conclusion is far from certain.
The oldest manuscript evidence that Rahlfs (or anything else I have seen) gives for reading WTIA instead
of SWMA is the Gallican Psalter, which is the second Latin version of the Psalms prepared by Jerome (ca.
388 A.D.). I do not have the Gallican Psalter itself, but the two versions of the Vulgate in my possession
have the phrase "aures ... fodisti" (ears you have dug/pricked) and "aures ... perfecisti" (ears you have
perfected/finished/completed). Material in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers volume on Jerome says that
Jerome prepared his earler Roman Psalter (383) based on the LXX. But both his Gallican Psalter and his
translation for the complete Vulgate (ca. 392) were made after he had studied Hebrew. The latter was
reportedly translated directly from Hebrew. The Gallican Psalter of Jerome was reportedly translated from
the 5th column of Origen's Hexapla, compared with the Hebrew text. (Originally Jerome noted additions or
deletions which he had made after comparing the LXX with the Hebrew text.)

First question: Which of these readings above (or something else) was the reading of the Gallican Psalter?

I'm guessing that "fodisti" is Jerome's final translation (from the Hebrew) and "perfecisti" is from the
Gallican Psalter. I have seen an online version of Ps. 39:7 (from the Paris Psalter) which reads: "corpus
... perfecisti." I'm guessing that this is the reading of Jerome's original Roman Psalter. (Which would
indicate that the LXX read: SWMA at the time that the Old Latin version of the Psalms was translated.)

Second question: Is there any way to tell if the Gallican Psalter translation of Ps. 39:7 was made from
the LXX column of the Hexapla alone, or did Jerome base his translation on the Hebrew of this verse, which
was also available to him in the Hexapla?

The 5th column of the Hexapla which was a version of the LXX which Origen corrected after he had studied
Hebrew. (The 6 columns of the Hexapla are: 1 the Hebrew text, 2 a transliteration into Greek, 3 Aquila, 4
Symmachus, 5 LXX as as it existed at the time [but Origen felt free to make changes, including additions
and deletions based on other texts], & 6 Theodotion.) Eusebius (100 years later) had access to the Hexapla
in Caesarea. No copies of the full Hexapla were ever made, though the LXX column was copied by Pamphilus
and Eusebius. It is believed that the Hexapla was destroyed by Arabs in 653. The Ante-Nicene Fathers
volume on Origin states: "The remains of this work were published by Montfaucon at Paris, 1713, 2 vols.
folio; by Bahrdt at Leipsig in 1769;" It also states that the surviving portions of this were to be
published (1875) by "the Clarendon press, Oxford, under the editorship of Mr. Field, who has made use of
the Syriac-Hexaplar version, and has added various fragments not contained in prior editions."

Third question: Is Psalm 39 included as part of this fragmentary Oxford edition of Origen's LXX?
Fourth question: Is there any way to tell which portions of this text are re-translations from Syriac back
into Greek?
Fifh question: Since Origen admittedly made some changes to the LXX of his day, how do we know that Origen
himself did not change the LXX which he saw in Ps 39[40]:7 so that it would conform to the Hebrew text and
other Greek translations?

Swete's _Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek_ states that "all our MSS. of Ps. xxxix." read SWMA
(p. 479), though he considered this reading to be a "corruption" of the original LXX. He noted that
"textual corruption began before the Christian era" (p. 478). But he suggests that "perhaps" SWMA in Ps.
39:7 may be due to "the accidental influence of N.T. citations" (p. 479).

Sixth question: besides the conjecture (without textual evidence) that a supposed original LXX reading of
...S WTIA was misread as SWMA (reading TI as M), what evidence is there that the writer to the Hebrews did
not read SWMA in the copy of the LXX that he had before him?

Swete notes that the Latin version of Irenaeus cites Ps 39:7 as "aures autem perfecisti mihi." But Swete
calls this "possibly a correction from the Gallican Psalter," then notes, "but a few cursives read after
the Heb. WTIA or WTA" (p. 417). This seems to contradict what he writes on page 479 (above).

Swete himself gives a different explanation for the origin of the reading SWMA DE KATHRTISW MOI on p. 327,
where he cites this as an example of where "a whole clause in interpreted rather than translated."

Franz Delitzsch seems to have adopted this hypothesis for how the LXX came to have this reading.
(Westcott, a generation later, agreed with him.) In His commentary on Hebrews 10:5 Delitzsch specifically
rejects the conjecture of Bleek and Luenemann that some ancient copying misread SWMA for S WTIA (vol. 2,
p. 153). He thinks that later mss. which include WTIA were derived from Theodotion or Origen's Hexapla. He
notes that Augustine's commentary on the Psalms (baed on a pre-Jerome Latin text) read "corpus autem
perfecisti." Delitzsch came to this conclusion: "We must therefore infer that the Septuagint translator
himself substituted, for the strange-sounding and easily misunderstood WTIA WRUXAS (DIWRUXAS) MOI, the
SWMA and KATHRTISW MOI of the text; KATHRTISW being by itself an easier and more general rendering of the
Hebrew CRYT."

Final question (for now): While Delitzsch admitted that this was only an inference, is there any
manuscript evidence for or against it? Related to this, what is the oldest manuscript of Psalm 40 in
Hebrew that is still extant? And is it possible that the LXX translation was based on a different Hebrew
text from the standard Massoretic text?

> Are you suggesting, Ben, that we return to "the Septuagint" of  1903
> and thus collapse  reception history and constitutive character?
> My apologies if I misread you.

If we really want to see the LXX, and not Theodotion, Aquila, or Symmachus, it appears to me that the
reading SWMA should have been in the Rahlfs text, since this is the only reading in the extant uncials.
And Rahlfs should have left the reading WTIA for the footnote. It appears that there is little or no hard
evidence for what is "reception history" or what is the "consitutive character" of the LXX of Ps 39:7. It
seems that the best that scholars have done is "infer" or "conjecture" what they think the "original LXX"

Mark Eddy

> On Fri 19 Dec 2003 (16:55:25), markeddy at adams.net wrote:
>> The printed edition of Rahlfs' LXX has a footnote at Ps 39:7 which
>> says that the three major LXX uncial manuscripts (B, S [=aleph in the N-A
>> Greek NT], and A) all have the word SWMA, as in  Hebr. 10:5. As support for
>> the reading WTIA, the footnote simply has "Ga". The "Explanation of
>> Symbols" section doesn't list "Ga" so I don't know what it means. Does
>> somebody tell me what "Ga" stands for.

On Dec 20, 2003, at 6:52 PM, Ben and Jo Crick wrote:

>  The "Ga" is the Gallican Psalter, which differs from the Vulgate
> /corpus autem aptasti mihi/ in Hebrews 10:5, but has /aures autem perfecisti/ at
> Psalm 39[40]:7[6].
>  AF Kirkpatrick, /Psalms/, Cambridge, 1903, has a footnote on page 212:
>  "1 The reading of the LXX is SWMA DE KATHRTISW MOI, /a body didst
> thou prepare for me/. This reading is attested by the Vulgate. /Aures/ in the
> Gallican Psalter is a correction. KATARTIZESQAI occurs in the LXX as the
> rendering of several Hebrew words, and might easily have been chosen to represent
> the obscure /thou hast dug/. 'Body' for 'ears' may then have been a free
>  paraphrase. But the reading may have originated in an ancient
> corruption of the Greek text. Through a repetition of the final -S of the preceding
> word, and the change of WTIA into WMA, HQELHQAS WTIA might easily have
> become HQELHSAS SWMA."
>  BF Westcott, one half of the famous "Westcott & Hort" duo, comments:
>  "The LXX, as is well known, differs from the Hebrew in one remarkable
>  clause : for 'oZ:NaYiM KaRiYTa LiY /ears hast thou opened (dug) for
> me/, it gives SWMA DE KATHRTISW MOI. There can be no question that this is
> the true reading of the Greek. The ceonjecture that SWMA is an early blunder
> for WTIA (the reading of the other Greek versions) cannot be maintained in the
> face of the evidence. The rendering must therefore be considered to be a free
>  interpretation of the original text. In this respect is extends and
> emphasises the fundamental idea. The 'body' is the instrument for fulfilling the
> divine command, just as the 'ear' is the instrument for receiving it. God
> originally fashioned for man in his frame the organ for hearing His voice, and
> by this he ppainly shewed that he was made to obey it."
>  [BF Westcott, /The Epistle to the Hebrews/, London, 3rd Ed 1903, p
> 310]
>  A case of Synechdoche or /pars pro toto/, the part for the whole?
>  Ben

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