Literary criticism and textual criticism are not clearly distinguished in the study of manuscripts. People may sometimes be too quick to postulate two or more editions of OT books or different literary strata represented by different manuscripts.
A famous example comes from the book of Judges. In studying 4QJudga, Trebolle Barrera concludes that this fragment which lacks 6:7-10 is pre-Deuteronomistic, since the verses 8-10 tended to be attributed to a late Deuteronomistic redaction. The MT, on the other hand, as well as the Greek version reflects this later literary development. In search of more witnesses preserving traces of a shorter text, Barrera turns to the Antiochene text and the Old Latin, which he believes transmit the Old Greek, and finds three cases where the reading of 4QJudga agrees with the Antiochene text and/or the Old Latin.
Richard Hess has shown that in all cases (of 4QJosha and 4QJudga) where such anomalies occur, they are always found at points divided by the Masoretic parashiyoth which could simply show a certain scribal rearrangement of the text for specific purposes (e.g., liturgical). He emphasizes caution against using small fragments to warrant far reaching theories concerning the textual history of a book, especially in the absence of any evidence of a pre-Deuteronomistic text.
Is the Antiochene text of Judges a witness to a shorter form of the text? Natalio Fernández Marcos agrees that the ancient layer of the Antiochene text is the most reliable guide to the Old Greek in this case, especially where it agrees with the Old Latin, but he disagrees on the nature of the Antiochene text. He argues that the Antiochene or Lucianic text of Judges is an expansive rather than a short text, full of small additions of stylistic clarifications and corrections.
As is well known in LXX TC, the harder “wooden” reading is more likely to be secondary reflecting a revision towards the MT (the opposite of NT TC). Similarly, while the Antiochene text, in many places, is primary among the Greek witnesses, it is secondary to the Hebrew since it fails to explain how certain pluses were omitted in the rest of the witnesses had they been present in the Hebrew. (For the full treatment of the topic on which I base this discussion see, Natalio Fernández Marcos, “The Hebrew and Greek Texts of Judges” in The Earliest Text of the Hebrew Bible [ed. Adrian Schenker; LXXSCS 52; Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2003], 1-16).
The conversation continues, but cases like this make one wonder about scholars’ starting points and, sometimes opposing, frameworks when approaching the study of manuscripts. A literary critic views the history of the text as gradually expanding with one stratum upon another. A LXX textual critic views the history of a Greek text as gradually “shrinking”, i.e. revised towards a stricter adherence to the Hebrew text. Is there a way to distinguish the disciplines? Is the OT or NT scribe an author, a redactor, an exegete, a reviser/corrector, a copyist? Similar questions are asked of the translators as well. Do we favour one framework over another? Are we too quick to read data in the light of unique cases (i.e. the composition of the book of Jeremiah)? Just some thoughts.
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