[b-hebrew] Psalm 14 'smoothed' to Romans 3 in Greek OT

Schmuel schmuel at nyc.rr.com
Wed Oct 18 09:18:52 EDT 2006

Hi Folks,

  As part of the recently enacted EFPCA - Email Forum Post Conservation Act -
I will combine three posts into one on the same thread.

>I am surprised at the terms smoothed, scribal error, etc.  Would any Jewish person who lived in the 
> ancient times have had the guts or the means to  indulge in such activities? 
> http://www.aish.com/holidays/Shavuot/Accuracy_of_Torah_Text.asp

Hi Sujata,
  A few thoughts. 

  First you are right in that standards for the Masoretic Text were very high.  However please note that the Aish discussion is of the supremely accurate Torah scrolls.  The rest of Tanach does have some variants.

  Second, the provenance of the Greek OT is an especially wooly area.  There were competing versions of both Jewish and Christian provenance with Aquila, Symmacheus, and Theodotian.  Origen got involved with the Hexapla and there were poor scribes in Alexandria.  The same errant NT manuscripts that confounded modern NT textual criticism are at the base of Greek OT studies.  The textual situation is a mess.  And there were errors (including the major blunder of Psalm 14) that were actually caused by New Testament considerations. 

  In contrast, the Greek NT in the great majority of manuscripts was rather homogeneous (the Byzantine Text) with reasonably high copyist standards (although not up to the Masoretic Text).  Only in recent years has there been a tendency to elevate a couple of clearly scribally-deficient texts.  That is, since the late 19th century.  Texts full of scribal blunders became the darlings of the text-critical crowd.  Codex Sinaiticus especially, but also similarly Codex Vaticanus and Codex Bezae come to mind (although the usage of Bezae is less).   Vaticanus and Sinaticus are also at the base of Greek OT (LXX) studies although the Orthodox (Christians with the Byzantine Text) I believe disclaim their individual significance and have their own text.

  On this issue lies the controversy in the Christian world between the historic Byzantine and Received Text Bibles (Tyndale, Geneva, King James Bible) and the modern versions.  I would say that in the Received Text Bibles you have a high standard, although there was still more variance than in the Masoretic Text.  Part of this has to do with the fork in the early days between the Greek and Latin translations, and apparently a few (3) verses largely dropped out of the Greek line.  

   Keep in mind that the Jewish idea is one of a 'Received Text' the Masoretic Text.  Similar to the historic Christian idea.  Changing the text based on oddball manuscripts, even ones of great historical importance (DSS, Targumim, Samaritan Bible) or ancient provenance (Peshitta and Latin Vulgate, although they generally support the MT) is simply not the fancy of the day.  Halleluyah :-)   The folks looking at the Hebrew-Aramaic Tanach have shown more wisdom than the Christian text-critical aficionados. 

   I would say this also, no Jewish scribe would consider a manuscript like Codex Sinaiticus of any real significance.  Too many hundreds of blatant scribal errors. It would be like rewriting the Bible based on a sloppy DSS or Targumim. 

Yigal Levin - 
>Dear Sujata, Despite aish-hatorah's claims, scribal error (ta'ut sofrim) was a recognized aspect of manual copying of scrolls. It's one of the reasons the Masoretes used qeri and ketiv. 

Aish gets around this by dealing only with the Penteteuch.
Is there much qere/ketiv there ?

>As far as purposely "smoothing over" texts - I think we're talking about somethiing that was done by Christians to the Greek text. Look at a lot of Christian (and other) translations today - they basically make the text say what they believe it should say. 

In paraphrase versions, but that is either irrelevant or an abomination, not too germane to the issue.

>This is legitamate in translation, which is really a form of interpretation. No surprise there.

Well many Targumim were very interpretative, but that was done as an adjunct to a Hebrew scripture text so it is a different situation.  I don't see many Jewish paraphrase versions, except maybe a children's edition.  What you do see in some versions is translation through the eyes of rabbinical interpreters overriding the actual Hebrew text.  (ArtScroll/Stone is especially known for this.) So in that sense Jewish Bible translation is not squeaky-clean either.

Major interpretation and rewriting should not be confused with translation, although all translation has an element of interpretation.

schmuel wrote:
>> Harold, do you agree with Professor Klein and BHS that this was a Greek
>> OT rigging 'smoothing' to match Psalms ?

>> http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/psalm_14.htm
>>  The Old Testament and the Ancient Near East -  Ralph W. Klein BHS notes a long insertion here
>> in LXX, which began in Romans 3:13-18, was then added to LXX, and even found its way into two
>> medieval Hebrew manuscripts. Note also that the  DSS is a confirmation of Psalm 14 (and 13) as
>> in the Masoretic Text, omitting one verse in  the reconstruction while matching the Masoretic
>> Text verse by verse. 
>> Harold, do you agree with  Professor Klein and BHS that this was a Greek
>> OT rigging 'smoothing' to match Psalms ?

>HH: Klein does not use the words "rigging" or "smoothing," 

He uses the word "insertion". 

>... People wrote in the margins of them, and often marginal notes were inserted into the main text by later copyists. This is perhaps because sometimes scribes committed omissions, which they later corrected by placing the omitted material in the margin. 

Well there was no omission here to be corrected anyway. 
Simply a NT insertion, whether done as tampering or abject blundering. 

>So scribes were used to regarding marginal material as possible main text substance. It could be that a scribe mistakenly did this with a marginal note of Psalm 14 that quoted Romans.


Either way it was a major blunder in the Greek OT directly related to the New Testament text,
which is the basic issue at hand. 

And this is a far greater blunder (in terms of volume of text) than what appears to occur in the handful of verses where the Greek OT differs from all other ancient witnesses in order to match the NT. The difference is the number of verses is greater.  There can be little or no doubt that the Greek OT was changed in conformity to the NT (whether by design or blunder).

Note also that there are no ancient witness to this other than the Greek OT.  No support from 
the DSS, Targumim, Latin Vulgate or Peshitta.  Like most all the other Greek OT variants that
are supposed to have been in the hands of Jesus and the apostles these readings are orphans, extant 
in ancient manuscripts beginning only in the 4th century or later Greek OT.

>HH: I have not studied this issue in detail, though in the past I have noted the insertion. Delitzsch says that the addition is in Codex Alexandrinus, in the Greco-Latin Psalterium Veronese, and in the Syriac Psalterium Mediolanense. The words are in Apollinaris' paraphrase of the Psalms as a later interpolation. The Codex Vaticanus has them in the margin. Delitzsch says that Origen rightly excluded the LXX addition from his text of Psalm 14. Supposedly Jerome has a correct explanation o the matter in the preface to Book XVI of his commentary on Isaiah, but I do not have access to it right now.

Will Kinney refers to the Jerome view, albeit mostly indirectly through Adam Clarke. 
It would be helpful to have his exact text.  

Keep in mind that this blunder is far wider than you say above.  It is in the Brenton text, in Rahlf's in brackets, even Wycliffe had it.  I haven't checked much elsewhere but this comment says it is almost universal.

The LXX Psalm Superscriptions (Part 4) Situational Ascriptions - Prof Tyler F. Williams 
The LXX is replete with examples of clearly secondary readings that have full textual support (The most famous is Psalm 14(13):3, which includes the text of Romans 3:13-18. This clearly was triggered by the fact that Paul quotes a chain of OT texts beginning with Ps 14(13):3 and them moving without comment to Ps 5.10, 139.4, 9,28; Isa 59:7, 8; Ps 35.2). 

 "an addition .. not contested textually"

>> Or do you think that Paul was quoting a Greek  copy of Psalms verbatim ?
>> This example is so fundamental that I dropped the dialog to share with the forum :-)
>HH: Thanks for reminding of this passage, but it in no way supports the massive conclusions that 
>Will Kinney wants to draw from it, leaning on the older view of John Owen.

Your welcome.  Of course it does support direct NT influence on the Greek OT, as does the Cainan example.  The 'massive conclusions' are based on a number of factor, not least of which is the general orphan status of the late Greek OT readings.  That is a huge textual difficulty.  Combined with the huge difficulties in trying to place a Greek text in the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ in Israel or even as the basis of the apostolic writings about the 1st century events in Israel.  One problem is that you actually have to change the words that Jesus would have spoken, unless you have a theory that he read from a Greek text, even in the Temple !

>>  Could someone please tell me where I can find more info on the Ezekiel  Tablets?

I have had a few discussions on the web.  One big issue is the various claims about 
the squarish script .. how early could it have been.

Start with this..
O.T. Ancient Manuscripts

Books by  David Lewis and Grant Jeffrey (who got a lot of his info from Lewis) 
have sections on the Tablets, there are sorta kept under wraps in archaeological 
circles. The Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem has displayed some.  

I suggest you start a separate thread on the topic. 

And I will try to find the earlier discussions tonight, after work.

Steven Avery

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