[b-hebrew] OT Translations

George F. Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Wed Jun 9 12:56:01 EDT 2004


Perhaps the tradition is wrong.  On the other hand, without hard evidence
in the form of texts it is difficult to be sure that it is wrong.  Even
where we do have texts in the form of the DSS it is difficult to be sure
which is correct since these sometimes support one traditon and sometimes
another or yet again another (MT, LXX, Sam. Pent.).  In NT text crit.
there are certain MSS which have been shown to be preferred, but we are
not in a position to make such a judgment in regard to the DSS -- partly
because of the fragmentary nature of the texts.  As Avi said, the more
difficult reading is generally to be preferred since it is the tendency
of copyists to attempt to iron out the difficulties.  Lectio difficillior
is an established principle in text critical studies.  Of course, this
does have its limitations when the text becomes totally incomprehensible.
 

It is one thing to grant that "perhaps the tradition is wrong."  It is
another matter to conclude that "it is assuredly wrong" and then to
establish what the correct reading should be.

gfsomsel
__________

On Wed, 9 Jun 2004 16:01:24 +0100 "Philip Engmann" <phil-eng at ighmail.com>
writes:
> But what if the "tradition" is wrong?
> 
> Philip Engmann
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Yigal 
> Levin
> Sent: 06 June 2004 23:49
> To: b-hebrew
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] OT Translations
> 
> Dear Philip,
> 
> You seem to forget that most Bible translations are commisioned by
> religious
> denominations or groups (including "interdenominational Christians 
> and
> the
> like), following a tradition. For Jewish translations, including
> "scholarly"
> ones such a JPS, the purpose of a translation is to supply the 
> reader
> who is
> not capable of reading the Hebrew text with a means of 
> understanding
> that
> text. For Christians, at least Western Christians, the tradition, 
> since
> Jerome, has been that the MT is the "real" Bible. Using LXX, DDS 
> etc. is
> fine in commentaries for clarifying or suggesting alternate texts. 
> And
> if
> you want, there are English translations of both.
> 
> Yigal
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Philip Engmann" <phil-eng at ighmail.com>
> To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Saturday, June 05, 2004 6:39 PM
> Subject: [b-hebrew] OT Translations
> 
> 
> > 1.      Majority of bible translations use the MT as source text 
> and
> > other sources (i.e. LXX, DSS, etc) where the MT seems doubtful 
> e.g.
> > NIV.[1]
> > 2.      This practice is wrong because it assumes that the MT is 
> more
> > accurate than the LXX (and other sources). [2] Furthermore, this
> > practice also assumes that the parent text of the MT, i.e. the
> Proto-MT
> > is more accurate or correct than the parent text of the LXX, i.e. 
> the
> > LXX Vorlage. But this assumption is false because where the LXX
> Vorlage
> > and the Proto-MT differ, there is no known way to tell which of 
> the 2
> > ancient texts is correct.[3]
> > 3.      The best way to approach translation in these 
> circumstances, I
> > think, is to treat the LXX and MT as equal texts as much as 
> possible.
> >
> > Where the LXX and the MT (and other sources) agree, there is no
> problem.
> >
> > But where the LXX and the MT (and other sources) disagree, a 
> thorough
> > textual critical investigation must be made into these 
> differences
> > before selecting the best text.
> >
> > But certainly there seems to be very little justification for 
> assuming
> > that the MT is the most accurate or correct OT text.[4]
> >
> > Philip Engmann
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >   _____
> >
> > [1] Preface to the New International Version (NIV), page 34, 
> paragraph
> > 3, which is self-explanatory.  It states:
> > "For the Old Testament, the standard Hebrew text, the Masoretic 
> Text
> as
> > published in the latest editions of Biblia Hebraica, was used
> > throughout.  The Dead Sea Scrolls contain material bearing on an
> earlier
> > stage of the Hebrew text.  They were consulted, as were the 
> Samaritan
> > Pentateuch and the ancient scribal traditions relating to textual
> > changes. Sometimes a variant Hebrew reading in the margin of the
> > Masoretic Text was followed instead of the text itself.  Such
> instances,
> > being variants within the Masoretic tradition, are not specified 
> by
> the
> > footnotes. In rare cases, words in the consonantal text were 
> divided
> > differently from the way they appear in the Masoretic Text. 
> Footnotes
> > indicate this. The translators also consulted the more important 
> early
> > versions, i.e. the Septuagint; Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion; 
> the
> > Vulgate; the Syriac Peshitta; the Targums; and for the Psalms the
> Juxta
> > Hebraica of Jerome. Readings from these versions were 
> occasionally
> > (emphasis mine) followed where the Masoretic Text seemed doubtful 
> and
> > where accepted principles of textual criticism showed that one or 
> more
> > of these textual witnesses appeared to provide the correct 
> reading.
> Such
> > instances are footnoted.  Sometimes vowel letters and vowel signs 
> did
> > not, in the judgement of the translators, represent the correct 
> vowels
> > for the original consonantal text.  Accordingly, some words were 
> read
> > with a different set of vowels. These instances are usually not
> > indicated by footnotes."
> >
> > It is clear from the above quote that the LXX, and indeed the 
> more
> > important early versions, was used "occasionally only where the
> > Masoretic Text seemed doubtful and where accepted principles of
> textual
> > criticism showed that one or more of these textual witnesses 
> appeared
> to
> > provide the correct reading."
> >
> > [2] This practice also assumes that the pointing done by the 
> Masoretes
> > was correct-an assumption which is not necessarily true.
> > [3] Complicating the issue is the fact that there were several 
> LXX
> > texts, Hebrew texts etc, each with their own set of variants.
> > [4] It goes without saying that the discoveries of the DSS have
> > demonstated that the MT may not conclusively be the most accurate 
> OT
> > text as was originally thought, but that the LXX, in view of the 
> fact
> > that it is likely to have had a different Vorlage, is also a very
> > significant factor in OT textual criticism.
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> >
> 
> 
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