[b-hebrew] Why would the scribal authorities find this objectionable? a response.

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon May 2 13:21:19 EDT 2005

On 02/05/2005 10:43, wattswestmaas wrote:

>The point here is that the two angels departed from the meal under the tree
>and it was God that was LEFT STILL STANDING.  This is why I think that the
>emmended text (IF INDEED IT WAS EMMENDED) is not justified and this was a
>case (as Peter Kirk remarked) of hypersensistivity to a theological
>possibility that the scribes in question could not assimilate into their
Thank you for clarifiying my position on Genesis 18:22, which was 
confused before because I quoted the supposedly emended text rather than 
the supposed original. I continue to hold that that the alleged 
original, with YHWH standing before Abraham, makes good sense in the 
context, and if the scribes did feel the need to correct it they were 
being hypersensitive. But then the whole of chapters 18-19 is so full of 
anthropomorphic language for YHWH that I would expect such 
hypersensitive scribes to have made much more widespread changes.

But I agree that we should prefer the text which we actually have, 
Abraham standing before YHWH, unless there is good evidence, not just a 
vague scribal tradition, that the original reading was YHWH standing 
before Abraham. In this case LXX and (I assume from the lack of mention 
in BHS margin) all other ancient versions confirm "Abraham standing 
before YHWH". And if a correction had been made before the LXX was 
translated, would it be accurately reflected in traditions from many 
centuries later?

After writing most of the above, I read Schmuel's contribution which 
seems to confirm that the tradition of a correction here is unreliable. 
Schmuel suggests that the corrections may have dated back to the time of 
Ezra and Nehemiah. Well, I accept that the entire Hebrew Bible may have 
been subject to extensive redaction in that time (except perhaps for 
those parts which were only written at about that time). But in practice 
there is no way that we can reconstruct an earlier version of the text 
with any degree of confidence. So we may as well take the form which 
emerged from that redaction as the canonical form with which we can work 

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

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