Re: Is 1:25
- On Wed, 31 Jul 1996, DrJDPrice@... (James D. Price) wrote:
>Dear Jim West:I've kept out of this discussion so far, because Old Testament criticism
>In a message dated 96-07-31 13:26:32 EDT, you wrote:
>>Or, how often may we legitamately use emendation without feeling a pang of
>Conjectural emendation is unwise. It may just introduce another variant.
>Emendations that have ancient support from Hebrew mss and/or ancient
>versions can be entertained. A good rule of thumb is "consensus among
>ancient independent witnesses."
is not my specialty, but I would like to make a methodological comment
Conjectural emendation is actually a two-step process: Recognizing a
defect, and attempting to correct it.
These two should be kept separate. There are good reasons to believe that
the MT is often very corrupt. The books of Samuel are obvious examples --
but the simple fact is, *all* ancient documents are corrupt.
Chances are, there are many "errors" (that is, readings that do not agree
with the original author's text) even in passages where the MT makes perfect
But *recognizing* these places is difficult.
Then there's the matter of corrections. A correction can be eminently
suitable, logical, simple -- everything but correct. This is most
easily demonstrated not from literary sources but from that great soup
of transmission errors, traditional song.
There is a song I know where the singer sang (I kid you not) "a bold
brave bonair." Nobody knew what it meant, but conjectures were many:
"A bold brave soldier," "a bold brave manner," etc.
Turns out the original was "a brave volunteer." Which no one thought of
until they started looking for other versions of the song.
The point is, emendation is a risky business. I agree with West that
there are a lot of places where the MT needs to be fixed -- and the
fact that LXX and MT agree, or that the reading "makes sense," does
*not* prove that it is original.
But if the original reading is lost, chances are that we cannot, at this
late date, correct it. So I agree: Conjectural emendation should be kept
to a minimum.
But let's get our reasons right: Emendation should be our last resort not
because the MT is always right, but because chances are that our emendation
will only make things worse.
"Dave Washburn" <dwashbur@...> then wrote, in part:
>> I'm not so interested in this particular passage as Kevin Woodruff'sWhile I do not necessarily disagree, this *does not follow.* It merely
>> assertion that "when emending the consonantal text, we should use EXTREME
>> On what basis would you justify that position? MT is the latest witness we
>> have, so why should it be sacrosanct? The LXX and Qumran are far closer in
>> time to the time of the writing of the Biblical texts.
>The LXX and Qumran have shown that, in the main, we do in fact have a
>very good text preserved in the MT.
shows that the MT, LXX, and Qumran have not diverged widely. It says
nothing about the Biblical text in the period *before* they diverged.
Chances are that *most* errors in the Biblical text took place in
the earliest stages of transmission -- *before* the text was canonized
and before the basic text-forms emerged.
>The main place where LXXWhat about Ezekiel (my LXX shows it to be about 10% shorter than the MT)
>diverges is in Samuel (leaving aside Jeremiah for the moment, as much
>of its problems appear to be outside the realm of TC); the rest of
>the Hebrew Scriptures show a remarkable consistency of transmission,
>as far back as and including Qumran and the Greek translations.
and Job (also much shorter in LXX)? And in the Minor Prohpets, the LXX
versions are about the same *length* as MT, but even allowing for many
*many* errors in translation, the differences strike me as too large
to be accounted for only by translation errors.
As for the claim that the situation in Jeremiah "appear[s] to be outside
the realm of TC," I cannot accept this claim as it stands. What about
the hundreds of instances where MT reads adds "of hosts" after YHWH but
LXX omits? There is little doubt in my mind that these are glosses --
and if MT is glossed there, why not in some of the other differences?
(remainder omitted; I think I made my point above).
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