[b-hebrew] Understanding BHS text!

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Dec 16 07:28:22 EST 2003

>===== Original Message From Yousaf Sadiq <nbtp at kastanet.org> =====
>Dear friend,
>Greetings.  I would like to know if there are any passages in the BHS that
>are regarded as later additions to the text, but which are of evident
>antiquity and importance and also words whose presence or position in the
>text is regarded as disputed.

Since this is mostly a TC question and not particularly about the language, 
I'll try to be brief. It seems to me like you're approaching the text of the 
Hebrew Bible from a NT perspective. What I mean by this is, there are some 
significant differences between the evidence that we have for the Hebrew Bible 
and the evidence for the NT. In standard editions of the GNT, some passages 
are marked as later additions. But you must keep in mind that this convention 
belongs to the general strategy of these editions. The printed text does not 
represent any particular manuscript but is supposed to be a reconstruction of 
what the text "originally" looked like. The apparatus is intended to provide 
you with the evidence on which this text is based. With the Hebrew Bible, the 
general practice is different--to provide essentially the text of one 
particular manuscript, with an apparatus that shows other evidence and 
suggests other readings. Part of the reason for this difference in approach is 
a general difference in the level of optimism on the part of scholars. Because 
NT manuscripts are extant to within a century of the autographs, it is fairly 
plausible that the "original" text can be ascertained. With the Hebrew Bible, 
we have no complete codices closer to the autographs than upwards of a 
millennium (a generous estimate), and even the Qumran material is in many 
cases several centuries removed from whatever the original form may have been. 
There is therefore much less hope of reconstructing the original text on the 
basis of the manuscript evidence available. You will find that much of the 
Hebrew Bible is questioned as to its original content and arrangement; but 
this is not generally on the basis of Hebrew manuscript evidence. The closest 
it generally comes is comparison with early versions.

So I guess what I'm saying is that your question probably won't work for the 
Hebrew Bible. If you want something that parallels such NT examples as John 8 
and Mark 16, you generally won't find it. If you want any examples of disputed 
passages, you'll probably have too much to work with.

Trevor Peterson

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