kdlitwak kdlitwak at concentric.net
Fri Dec 31 19:00:29 EST 1999

Jim West wrote:

> At 12:47 PM 12/31/99 -0800, you wrote:
> >
> >Wrong.  There are no complete MSS of the LXX before the 4th cent.  AD.
> Ken you are ill informed on this issue.  There are LXX text type mss from
> the dead sea region- which manuscripts have been known to scholars since the
> later half of this century.  You may want to read Tov's book on textual
> criticism of the hebrew bible before venturing into the unknown.

Jim, I've read Tov as a matter of fact.  I don't recall seeing lists of MSS that
contained the entirety of all the books in Vaticanus at Qumran before the 4th cent
AD.  Hear what I'm saying.  I'm using your exact statement. We need hard evidence,
not suppositions.  If there is not a MS of the entire contents of Esther before the
4th cent. AD, then those of us who rely solely upon hard data are required to state
that Esther only came into existence in the 4th cent AD.   That's what the hard
evidence says.  If you have a 1st cent BCE text with one chapter of a book but not
the full text of the book as it appears in Vaticanus until the 4th cent AD, then the
hard evidence requires, based on your position, that the rest of the book didn't
exist before the 4th cent AD, because everything else is a supposition.



> > And we
> >are talking about Cicero.  The case is _exactly_ parallel:  MSS from much later
> >than the alleged autograph.
> you might be talking about cicero- but I am talking about the hebrew bible.

So, Jim, are you, as I have always suspected, inventing one set of rules for
biblical texts, but another set for all other texts?  Can you offer a statement,
supported by argumentation, that addresses the exact relation between an autograph
and the earliest known MS of that autograph?  If your theory can't cover Cicero and
Psalms, Thucydides and 1 Samuel, it is not very useful as a scholarly rubric.
Instead, it smacks of special pleading to suit your ideological aims vis-a-vis
biblical texts.  You've been making statements about MS dates and hard evidence but
always evade the real issue. Will you just for once lay all your cards on the
table?  If not, don't bother responding.  I can't engage phantoms. Only real
arguments and data, though my understanding of evidence is clearly different than

> > You said that the only thing that qualified as
> >hard evidence is the MS.  You cannot have your cake and eat it too.  You are
> >required by what you said to assert the complete LXX never existed before the
> >4th cent.,


> > that no Gospel, except John, existed before 200 AD, that Josephus
> you are grossly misrepresenting me.  i said we had no hard evidence till we
> had ms evidence.  a book may or may not have existed, but we dont KNOW it
> did until we have evidence.  Good grief, why is this simple concept so
> difficult for folk to grasp?????

Jim, I'm simply taking you at your word.  We are depending upon MS evidence.
Everything before the physical MS is, to use your word "supposition", whether you
suppose a 2nd cent BC composition or I suppose a 12th BCE composition.  Both are
"suppositions" going beyond the physical evidence.  You have to justify your
supposition just as much as I do.  If I have to defend Mosaic authorship, you are
not off the hook to defend Hellenistic authorship (which your statements, in spite
of your evasion, require).  Yes, we do know when books are written.  We have the
hard evidence of the earliest MS.  If that's not the only criterion, then fine.
Let's drop it as having any value, which is what I asserted several days ago.  The
date of a physical MS is completely irrelevant to determining the date of
composition of a text.  Why is that simple concept so difficult for you?

> >was written in the middle Ages when the first MS appears, and so forth.  Either
> >be consistent, or don't make clams without argumentation.
> my argumentation is simple.  we do not have PROOF of the existence of a text
> until we have a ms of that text.

Jim, you are avoiding the essential point.  I didn't say word one about Moses in my
post to you.  Why are you dragging this in and avoiding the real issue?  How do
autographs, all autographs, Judges, Exodus, Isaiah, Esther, Cicero, Thucydides,
Homer, Donne, Shakespeare, et al, relate to the earliest MS of the text?  Is that
such a hard question?  If not, why do you keep avoiding it?

> you seem to think that merely claiming
> moses wrote deut. is sufficient evidence.  i then must say to you- show me a
> mosaic period manuscript.  you cant, you wont, and you dont.  so instead of
> addressing the real issue you talk about cicero and josephus and a host of
> red herrings.  just please try to focus on the issue at hand.

The issue at hand is how an autograph relates to the earliest MS of that text.  That
is the issue, but you won't touch it.  Josephus and Cicero are perfect models that
don't have the theological complications usually attached to discussions of biblical
texts.  Plus, these texts are discussed by scholars in other contexts, and any
theory worth having should work everywhere.  If you can't apply your theory to
classical literature and NT MSS, then it is worthless for Exodus as well.

> again, since it seems that folk are unable, unwilling, or incapable of
> understanding me i will say it again- you CANNOT prove the existence of an
> object until you have an object!!!!  you can suggest its existence.  you can
> posit its existence.  but you cant prove its existence.

I understand this perfectly.  No MS, no book or text or work.  If I can't hold in my
hand a copy of the whole work when it seemingly should have been composed, it
wasn't.  Right.  So you can't prove that a Hebrew version of Esther existed until
the 9th cent. AD, right?

Ken Litwak

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