[b-hebrew] Re: Documentary Hypothesis - OT translations

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Jun 9 06:33:22 EDT 2004

On 08/06/2004 16:49, Joe Baker wrote:

>Hi Peter
>Yes I was rushing and made a wide generalised and a mistake in the list of
>the LXX "omissions".
>I should have said that the LXX "omissions" in 1 Samuel 17-18 include
>smaller units that make self contained stories (but I believe they once were
>part of a single whole). These units are (with the correct listing)
>17:41, 48b, 50
>18;30, 17-19 (21b)
>18:10-11, 12b, 29b

Thank you, Joe. This corrected and reordered list makes a bit more sense.

>Now I put this forward in the context of the DH. Now, as you know, one of
>the main argument of the DH approach is that one can divide the narrative
>into its component sources. But one of the counter arguments of the other
>side is that not one of these assumed original documents (in any form)
>survives as an independent testament to separate sources.
>So I put forward LXX 1 Samuel 17-18 and the LXX "omissions" (as reflected in
>the MT version) as just such "original" sources - or rather the ancestor
>manuscripts from which MT 1 Samuel 17-18 ultimately derived - which were
>combined (cut, rearranged, pasted) during the Persian period. (And no I am
>not saying that, overall, LXX 1 Samuel is superior to the MT version).
>Like the DH we have two sources which were combined together. The retractor
>did not use the full text of the LXX "omissions". What was include and
>exclude was up to redactor. For example as you point out he did not include
>the meeting of Saul and David or the moving of David to the battle front
>(maybe because they were already adequately covered in the existing LXX
>account). But on the other hand (maybe for dramatic purposes) he did include
>parallel material, one such case caused a "double" killing of Goliath.

Well, if we take any random set of short extracts from a narrative, 
reorder them, and add material of our own invention, we can create a 
meaningful story, even if it is only a copy of the original one. So this 
argument tells us absolutely nothing.

The people who make such speculations have failed to appreciate that 
Hebrew narrative style is very different from that of modern historians, 
or even of Greeks. It is common to say things twice, repeating them from 
different perspectives. This kind of structure is common in the 
narratives of some modern cultures as well. Such repetitions are not 
signs of incompetent combination of sources by a redactor, but of the 
skill of a narrator according to the standards of his or her language 
and time.

As for why there are so many differences between LXX and MT in these 
passages, it is certainly possible that they go back to source 
differences. But there are many other possible interpretations. One is 
that the LXX translator was working with a corrupt or damaged Hebrew 
text - there are known to be many textual issues in the books of Samuel. 
The translator may have been hurrying at this point for some reason we 
don't know, and so accidentally or deliberately shortened the text. Or 
he or she may have been sensitive to the stylistic differences between 
Hebrew and Greek and so reorganised the story to avoid the repetition 
which modern scholars also find objectionable. Or at some time in the 
600+ year period from the first translation of the LXX to the earliest 
existing MSS of most of it the Greek text (which certainly underwent 
major redaction of its own) may have been corrupted or deliberately 
shortened. Who knows? Maybe there is some evidence to help us decide 
between such things, but I have not seen it.

>Like the DH the redactor may rearrange the narrative sequence of one or both
>sources - see the above split. And he may also add a phrase to iron out
>perceived inconsistencies in the different narratives - see the note on the
>valley of Elah in 17:2 and the addition of 18:21b about a second chance to
>marry another daughter (no where else is it even hinted that Merab was once
>promised to David).

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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