Monday, July 26, 2010

SBL Tartu, Working with Biblical Manuscripts (TC) 1

Today we had our first session in the Working with Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism) unit. Unfortunately, Dave Nielsen could not make it – his paper on restoring the Pentateuch to Codex Sinaiticus sounded very interesting.

These are the four presentations with abstracts. They were all interesting, but I did not take any extensive notes this time, but I might come back with some reflexions. Jan Krans presided the session and he also did well as expected.

The next session (in which I and Jan present) will be on Wednesday.

Jonathan Robker

"'And YHWH Spoke to Jehu' Wait! What?!"

While the language and phraseology of 2 Kings 10:26-36 makes a Deuteronomistic redaction of this pericope conspicuous, it must be determined what material there can legitimately be identified as belonging to this level of redactional and what material must be regarded as original to the narrative of Jehu’s supposed extermination of the Baal cult. Such a problematic becomes especially apparent when one considers verses 26-27 and 30. This process can be seriously aided by consulting the oldest existing editions of the text, in both Hebrew and Greek. When one reconsiders this pericope in the light of a new text-critical analysis, important implications for both the history of the text and history of the religion behind the text become apparent.

Donald Parry

"LXX Isaiah Versus MT—Primary Misreadings and Secondary Modifications."

A number of factors associated with Biblical Hebrew manuscripts during the last centuries before the Common Era presented distinctive challenges for translators. These challenges included rare words (esp. hapax legomena), difficult-to-read bookhands, graphically similar characters and words, irregular or inconsistent orthography, incomprehensible scribal notations, inconsistent use of matres lectionis, lack of vocalization, and more. Because of these and other factors, the translators of the Septuagint–Isaiah, in a number of instances, misread Hebrew roots or words.

Textual critics have published examples of such first-level misreadings of the Hebrew by the Septuagint translators of Isaiah. This present paper, however, will focus on the manner in which the first level misreadings frequently caused secondary modifications to the Greek translation in order to make sense of the context. That is to say, when the translator misread the Hebrew root or word, he would sometimes make secondary modifications to provide meaning or clarification to the passage. The secondary modifications often resulted in one or more of the following: (a) disruptions of the parallelism; (b) creation of strange readings; (c) alterations of the syntax; (d) additions; (e) omissions; (f) or other alterations to the passage. In this paper I will present a catalog of some 130 examples of probable primary misreadings from the Septuagint–Isaiah; then I will set forth several examples of secondary modifications and discuss their significance to textual critics.

Hanna Kilkkinen

“Shaping the Story about the Destruction of Jerusalem and the End of the Dynasty: Editing in Jer 52:7-16.”

This presentation investigates the transmission and the editorial changes witnessed by the differences between the parallel texts in Jer 52:7-16 and 2 Kgs that describe the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem as well as the final days of its last king. The aim is to categorize and describe the changes made in the text. There are many differences between the parallells such as a chiastic change in word order, various additions, and a change in number that completes some very short and “elliptical” expressions of 2 Kgs. There are also additions and changes that seem to be prompted by the larger context. One addition creates an antithesis between the stories of two kings of Jerusalem. Besides the very notion that here is concrete evidence of deliberate editing of the Biblical text, it is important to note that in a very short text, just a few verses, the number of these changes is quite high. One should also find it interesting that the changes reported here belong to the earlier LXX forms of the text. There are many opportunities to study the editing of LXX-Jer towards the longer MT, but here the LXX-Jer text itself reveals intensive editing.

Ronald van der Bergh

”Tracing the Old Testament quotations in Codex Bezae's Acts: Some methodological issues”

This paper tackles the methodological issues in tracing the textual tradition(s) that influenced the explicit Old Testament quotations in Codex Bezae’s Acts. The text of the Septuagint, from which these quotations were gleaned, was by no means in a stable condition during the time up to the writing of this important manuscript. The same goes for other Greek and Latin translations of the Old Testament and – up to a point – the Hebrew texts, which all might have exerted an influence on the textual tradition of the Acts of Codex Bezae. Revisions to the textual tradition independent from other textual traditions (e.g. the Septuagint) and other scribal alterations must also be kept in mind, and a set of criteria needs to be drawn up for identifying influences from such revisions on the explicit Old Testament quotations in Bezae’s Acts. The paper aims to describe the structure which such an investigation will take, and gives preliminary results on selected Old Testament quotations in the Acts of Codex Bezae to illustrate some methodological issues. This paper is only the first step in a project which aspires to paint the picture of the vicissitudes of the Old Testament quotations of Bezae’s Acts. This will, hopefully, shed light both on the ambiguous background of this manuscript and the early church’s use of the Septuagint text.


  1. Working with Biblical Manuscripts?

  2. yes, I can see how NTTC can have "fist sessions" :)

  3. Thanks guys for spotting these typos. Luckily we did not have to do any fist fighting.

    Pete, I assume you doubt (from the nature of the abstracts) that we really were working with MSS... Don't be too literal. The call for papers is broader, although papers reflecting direct work on MSS are particularly encouraged. However, tomorrow I will deliver my paper on Mark 1:1 (arguing against your position), largely on the basis of manuscripts.

  4. Manuscripts do have their limitations though; that's why there is such a flourishing discipline as conjectural emendation.

  5. Lot of flourishing in the land of tulips.