[b-hebrew] LXX Vorlage (was OT Translations)

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Jun 18 16:22:30 EDT 2004

Philip Engmann wrote (partly quoting me):

>1) 2 Samuel 8:12,13: MT 'RM, LXX IDUMAIA. (In this case there is some 
>Hebrew MSS support for 'DM, plus Syriac support). The LXX reading is 
>clearly based on a Vorlage 'DM, and confusion between dalet and resh is 
>a well attested process.
>So the LXX Vorlage has 'DM, and the Proto-MT has 'RM. But which one is
>correct? In this case there is some Hebrew MSS support for the LXX
>Vorlage, 'DM, plus Syriac support. So which reading is more likely to be

In this case, probably the LXX Vorlage. But my point is that we know 
that this is a Vorlage issue and not a translation issue.

>2) Genesis 1:9: MT MQWM, pointed MAQOWM, LXX SUNAGWGHN. The easiest 
>reconstruction here (as in BHS) is that the LXX Vorlage was MQWH, 
>MIQWEH, which also makes sense in the context and is used in the next 
>verse. MQWM and MQWH are plausible corruptions of one another, and we 
>cannot be sure which was original.
>Precisely my point. We have two ancient witnesses, the LXX Vorlage and
>the Proto-MT; and where they disagree, we cannot be sure which was

We have the LXX Vorlage in these two cases only because the nature of 
the difference between LXX and MT implies that the Vorlage can be 
reconstructed reliably. This is quite different from the Jonah 
4:6,7,9,10 case (the one which *I* numbered (2), but you have ignored), 
where the error is clearly in translation, not in the Vorlage, and we 
cannot reconstruct the Vorlage except that we have no reason to think 
that it differs from MT.

So let's go back to your earlier questions:

>1. How can one determine a corruption of the LXX Vorlage when it (the
>LXX Vorlage) is not extant?

In the two cases above the LXX Vorlage is not extant, but it can be 
reliably reconstructed, and so the issue is the same as if it were extant.

>2. Determining a corruption in translation is not clear to me when the
>LXX Vorlage is not extant.

In the Jonah case the LXX Vorlage is again not extant, but it is clear 
that the error is in translation. Other cases of this would be where LXX 
has a proper name, properly transliterated from the Hebrew, where the 
Hebrew is not a proper name; or where the LXX has translated what could 
be a valid Hebrew word but is in fact being used in the Hebrew as a 
proper name. Again, the LXX Vorlage is demonstrably the same as MT, but 
the error is in translation.

As an example which cuts both ways, consider Hebrew (MT) L:BO' XAMAT, 
translated either "Lebo-Hamath" or "the entrance of Hamath". LXX 
sometimes transliterates in Judges 3:3, LOBWHMAQ or LABWEMAQ (Q = 
theta), but elsewhere translates in various ways e.g. Numbers 13:21 
EISPOREUOMENWN EFAAQ cf. 34:8, Joshua 13:5 EISODOU EMAQ. It is obvious 
that the LXX Vorlage in each case is very similar to MT, and the 
difference between LXX renderings is because of different translation 
choices. We can tell this although the LXX Vorlage is not extant.

Of course there are cases which do not fall clearly into either of these 
categories, and a third category which I mentioned before of errors in 
transmission of the Greek. But it is useful to recognise that these 
categories exist and can sometimes be distinguished, when seeking to 
understand more complex situations.

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

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