[b-hebrew] OT Translations

Bill Rea bsr15 at cantsl.canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Jun 15 21:51:23 EDT 2004

Philip wrote:-

> However, the point that I am making is that where some DSS support the
> LXX rather than the MT (where there are differences between the LXX and
> the MT), then in such cases, it is more likely that the LXX+DSS
> rendering is more accurate than the MT rendering.

[example of Deut 32:43 deleted]

> So in this case,
> I would think that the LXX+DSS rendering may be more accurate than the
> MT rendering.

I'm not sure I follow this argument. If I understand it correctly you are
saying if the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect the LXX then this is to be
preferred over the MT, even if the MT makes good sense for that particular
passage. The problem is that the "original", if we can speak of such a
thing, is lost. I think you're trying to make an argument based on an
unspoken assumption that variations in isolated texts occur at a constant
rate. So let me expand this to see if I've got hold of your argument
correctly. I don't think many would dispute that some of the LXX was
translated from a different "text family" than what became the MT. But it
isn't at all clear that merely for that reason in the 3.3% of cases where
the MT reflects the LXX that it is necessarily better.

There is an active reserach area within Mathematics called phylogenetics
which is normally applied to evolutionary problems but which may be
usefully applied here. The parallel is the text families are like
speciation and the changes to the texts are like mutations to the genetic
code. One of the things you are supposed to be able to measure is how far
each specie (individual text family) has diverged from the common ancestor
(the original text). I don't know of anyone who has applied these methods
to the Hebrew Bible. (Ph.D. Thesis anyone? :-) )

The big drawback is the assumption of a common rate of mutation. What you
are saying, I believe, is that the LXX was "frozen out" and ceased to
undergo further changes and so is a reflection of an earlier Hebrew text
than the MT. Unfortunately we do not have the evidence to know how
fixed the LXX was. Our manuscripts come from hundreds of years later.
It seems to me that the Samaritan Pentateuch became isolated from the
other text families the earliest. It has special problems because some
of it was changed to reflect their specific theology.

About the 47% which are "non-aligned", does that mean that the MT, DSS,
LXX, and Samaritan Pentateuch where appropriate all say pretty much the
same thing?

Bill Rea, Information Technology Dept., Canterbury  University  \_
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