[b-hebrew] Why would the scribal authorities find thisobjectionable?

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Mon May 2 13:12:59 EDT 2005

On May 1, 2005, at 1:00 AM, Yigal Levin wrote:

> Dear Chrises and all,
> Why is it so widely assumed that the Masoretic comment on "Tikun  
> Soferim" is
> historically correct, or that it even refers to that particular  
> emendation?
> Are there any mss. that have Yahweh standing before Abraham? The  
> DDS version
> (8QGen) is badly preserved, but seems to have "... lpny y[hwh]".


That's precisely why I referenced E. Tov in my earlier message, with  
his cautions against assuming that the traditions about the tiqqune  
soferim are historically accurate.

I promised the complete footnote on this verse from my dissertation,  
so here goes:

-- quote --
Masoretic tradition marks 18:22 as containing one of the "corrections  
of the scribes." Ostensibly, the text originally read "Yahweh  
remained standing before Abraham," but was changed to its present  
reading out of a sense of piety or decorum. Gunkel (202) and Speiser  
(132, 134) accept the tradition and provide the putative original in  
their translations. However, Emmanuel Tov (Textual Criticism of the  
Hebrew Bible [Minneapolis: Fortress and Aasen/Maastricht:Van Gorcum,  
1992] 66) warns that "even though many scholars accept the traditions  
about the corrections made by the soferim as basically correct, in  
all probability these corrections were not carried out in reality."  
Tov considers 18:22 a case in which "it is improbable that the  
original text would indeed have read as the Masorah claims," though  
he does not explain why this is the case. Dillmann (100) adduces two  
other arguments against accepting the tradition. LXX and SP agree  
with MT, suggesting that if such a change did occur, it was  
introduced into the probable common predecessor of the pre-Samaritan  
and proto-Masoretic texts--but the tradition about the "corrections  
of the scribes" is unlikely to be that old. More decisively, Genesis  
19:27 narrates Abram's [sic] return to the "place where he had stood  
before Yahweh," echoing the MT of 18:22. Scullion (156) seems to  
accept the tradition about the correction in 18:22, but may be  
hinting at non-acceptance when he asks whether the scribes also made  
the same change in 19:27. Masoretic tradition does not mark the  
latter verse as containing one of these corrections. Dillmann's  
judgment is sound: the tradition about the tiqqune soferim is here  
"not evidence of another reading, but only of the offence which the  
Rabbinical writers took at the representation of a man detaining God  
instead of God detaining the man."
-- end quote --

Chris H.

R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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