Samaritan Pentateuch and dating the Hebrew Pentateuch

Polycarp66 at Polycarp66 at
Sat Dec 18 19:57:10 EST 1999

In a message dated 12/18/99 4:41:47 PM Central Daylight Time, 
dukerk at writes:

 A recent question about the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) reminded me of a
 question that I wanted to post to this group.  In various list
 discussions on the dating of the composition of the Hebrew Pentateuch
 (HP), it is clear that there is a trend to date the HP later and later,
 even into the period of Hellenization.  In the arguments posted for and
 against late dating I don't remember any being advanced from the
 perspective of text criticism.  As I understand it--again in my limited
 way--text criticism (see Waltke, _ABD_) shows that BEFORE the time of
 the Chronicler the SP, in comparison to the text type found in the MT,
 was modernizing the text.  It would seem to me that the presence of a SP
 would certainly give us a terminus ad quem for the HP and that a
 modernized SP would push the date of the HP back even further.  Are
 there any text critics who can shed some light on the evidence for
 dating the origins of the SP?  Any insight into how such evidence
 influences our understanding of the date of the HP?

After discussing eight ways in which the SP has been altered from the text 
commonly received in its tradition and that of the proto-Masoretic text, 
Bruce K. Waltke concludes:

D.  Value of the Samaritan Pentateuch

The Sam. Pent. is of little value for establishing original readings. Out of 
eighty-five readings where Sanderson thought she could assign preferable 
readings involving the MT, LXX, Sam. Pent., and Qm, she found no variants 
where the Sam. Pent. uniquely or even with LXX preserves the preferable 
reading (1986:85, 88). She found two preferable readings where the Sam. Pent. 
agreed with Qm, “both representing small errors on the part of MT” 
(1986:58), and four preferable readings where the Sam. Pent., LXX, and Qm 
agreed, revealing errors or lapses on the part of MT (1986:75). The chief 
textual value of the Sam. Pent. is its indirect witness that MT is “a superb, 
disciplined text” (Cross 1964:271).

The Sam. Pent. is of greater interest for literary criticism. First, as Tigay 
(1975) noted, the supplemented proto-Samaritan texts and Sam. Pent. give 
indirect empirical evidence for the documentary hypothesis. More accurately, 
it validates a documentary hypothesis. The phenomenon of sewing formerly 
independent documents into a new, unified whole can be observed from the 
Gilgamesh Epic through Tatian’s Diatasseron. Before his very eyes the critic 
can observe the redactor at work splicing texts together. The resulting work 
is not a “crazy patchwork” of sources, as once thought, but a unified whole. 
Second, and this has not been previously noted, the modernized Sam. Pent. 
along with early Jewish sources suggests that the Pentateuch was begun to be 
modernized before the time of the Chronicler, entailing that the archaic 
text-type of the Pentateuch preserved in MT must be much older.

Bruce K. Waltke, "Samaritan Pentateuch," Freedman, David Noel, ed., The 
Anchor Bible Dictionary, (New York: Doubleday) 1997, 1992.

There is an interesting section dealing with certain references in the NT

b.  Sam. Pent. and NT. Speakers in the NT depended on a text-type similar to 
the Sam. Pent. in several passages. Stephen’s statement that Abraham went to 
Canaan after the death of Terah (Acts 7:4), comports with the chronology in 
the Sam. Pent. that Terah died at 145 (cf. Gen 11:26; 12:4) and not with the 
statement in the MT that he died at 205 (Gen 11:32), 60 years after Abraham 
left. In 7:5 Stephen quotes Deut 2:5b using the word kleµronomia, whose 
Hebrew equivalent yršh appears only in the Sam. Pent., but not in the MT or 
LXX. In that same sermon (7:32) Stephen quotes from the Sam. Pent. of Exod 
3:6 and not from the LXX or MT. In v 37 he unexpectedly interpolates a 
passage from Deut 18:15 in a way similar to the Sam. Pent. Finally, the 
writer of Hebrews (9:3) probably locates with the Sam. Pent. against the MT 
and LXX the golden altar of incense behind the veil of the holy of holies. 
These agreements between the NT and the Sam. Pent. are best explained as the 
use of the proto-Samaritan text-type in some NT literature (Pummer 

Bruce K. Waltke, "Samaritan Pentateuch," Freedman, David Noel, ed., The 
Anchor Bible Dictionary, (New York: Doubleday) 1997, 1992.


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