[b-hebrew] Masoretic Text - scribes faithful to the text

Schmuel Schmuel at escape.com
Tue Jun 8 16:43:39 EDT 2004

Hi b-hebrew,

First, Peter Kirk hit my nail on the head with the response to the post from Brian Roberts 
(thank you both)

Peter Kirk,
> Schmuel's point, with which I agree, is that this published LXX, based mainly on 4th-5th century 
> MSS, may be very different from what was circulating in the 1st century and earlier. It is certainly not 
> the same as the version translated by 70 scholars, or however many there might have been, perhaps 
> 600 years before the date of the existing MSS.

600 years --  As Senator Everett Dirksen might have pointed out..
100 years here, a century there, after a while you are talking about real time.

(Especially considering the mixed, often very negative, attitudes of the Jews toward the Greek text,
 and the relative disinterest in same within Israel, and the poor alexandrian scribal history)

Now, from the other thread -- 

Re: [b-hebrew] OT Translations                   -- I would like to continue some.

>Going beyond that, there are many cases in which the LXX version seems to "make more sense" than the MT. In such cases, one must ask, whether this means that the MT is corrupt, or that the LXX version was "corrected" by a redactor in order to iron out difficulties in the original.

Thank you Yigal.... 
   Or "smoothed" :-)
Another nail on the head type of guy.

The following thoughts are on those verses where the MT and the socalled LXX disagree, 
even putting aside that the LXX often disagrees with itself, as in comparing Brenton and Rahlf :-)  

What Yigal shares is especially important because the first large manuscripts we have of the
LXX are later fourth century, coming through a particular strain of "Christian" scribalism not
known for accuracy (Alexandria, perhaps Constantines 50, Aleph and B).   For anyone uncomfortable with that scribal description, I recommend reading Dean John Burgon on the Sinaiticus manuscript, to start.   Floyd Nolan Jones also has a free online book.

Meanwhile the similarly timed Peshitta and even the Vulgate and in some cases the Targumim 
rarely support the LXX readings against the MT (this knocks to pieces the "Masoretic Text is a late text" argument).  And the DSS is often an MT support, however, it is often more complicated, especially when it disagrees for the same scripture book with multiple manuscripts :-)  

Earlier I offered the view that the Isaiah scroll itself, combined with the known techniques and detail attention of the Masoretes mentioned by Vadim, acts as a  one-book refutation against any Masorete "tampering" accusation.... 

(without even the additional aspect that the Penteteuch is also a fine general witness to the MT).  

 From what I have studied, although the LXX readings sometimes have similarites with DSS manuscripts, they rarely seem to be a real "hit" with the DSS against the MT .  Nor with the 1st century Josephus or Philo quotations against the MT, and definitely not with other early manuscripts against the MT.  Of course again, multiple differing DSS manuscripts come to play on that comparison.

A lot of the analysis of this is done on "messianic" verses, for a couple of reasons..
    a) Greater interest, often starting from an NT perspective
    b) There are a number of known differences between LXX and MT,
             with the NT lining up often (but by no means always) as LXX closer.

(Sidenote: another area that gets special MT-LXX attention is the Penteteuch chronology numbers.)     

This is often used as a basis for arguing "the NT authors used a Greek text", but that argument has
lots of problems.  Greek was not the general religious text in Israel, and the alternate explanation
of Yigal above is simply ignored.  (a 350 AD manuscript made to "match" closer).  

And the knowledge that we had multiple differing Greek manuscripts (especially the history of the Hexapla) must be considered .... clearly various folks, Jewish and Christian were "mucking around" with the Greek text.  And the "Christian" alexandrian scribes, not understanding midrash and missing other salient facts (e.g. Matthew 2 quote from Micah was an oral representation), yep those alexandrian scribes could have been the muckees..(lot's of gnosticism and philosophy there as well :-).

Yet in all the LXX-match NT examples that I have seen, only one really had some direct DSS (or Josephus or Philo) support as well.  Perhaps I have missed a good study.  

That one was "a body thou hast prepared for me" Psalm 40:6 and Hebrews 10:6").  And this is easily explainable as a midrash in the NT as much as coming from a different vorlage (the alternate reading possibly also being created in the same midrash way, and known). Granted, if there were a dozen of these, or even five, it would have more import.

Are there other examples ?

And are there any GOOD readable studies that simply try to compare, on verses where
the MT disagrees with the socalled LXX, the
     Jospehus and Philo
 Anything else relevant, eg. Talmud and Midrash, Samaritan Bible.

I have yet to see such a study that is soundly and objectively based.
Incidentally, most of these items have good accessible English translations available.

Here is an example of how the very basics of the issues are not considered, the basics
being represented in Yigal's statement above.

In my (very limited) library I have
"LXX - Old Testament Quotations in the Synoptic Gospels, and the Two-Document Hypothesis"
by David S. New

120 detailed pages on precisely these questions, and lots of single verse conclusions such as
"Matthew has clearly used the LXX here".

Not once in the 120 pages, afaik, is even the reverse "smoothing" possibility even mentioned.  That the first century text of Matthew may have influenced some 4th century Greek copyist in Alexandria, rather than the first century Israeli author using some earlier version of one of the conflicting Greek texts.

Not even mentioned.

And to some of us, this makes modern textual criticism something of an Alice-in-Wonderland world.

And as for the statement by Phillip below --
  "Textual criticism is largely done on a case by case basis".:

This is simply because the underlying paradigms of modern textual criticism are against 
any concept of Inspiration or Preservation of the Scripture text.

Modern textual criticism is by no means a neutral science.

Steven Avery
Queens, NY

Schmuel at escape.com
"Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>
>> >In cases where the LXX Vorlage clearly differs irreconcilably from the
>> >Proto-MT which text is more accurate? And which text should be seen as 'more correct'? [1]

>> HH: Textual criticism is largely done on a case by case basis. There
>> is not a general rule that always applies. The original writing was
>> done in Hebrew and Aramaic, so that gives some precedence to the
>> Hebrew and Aramaic sources over those in Greek.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list