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3103Re: OT Primary Source Texts

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  • Jeffrey Volkmer
    Apr 27, 2007
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      Dear Philip,

      In dealing with text critical issues one must be judicious in regard to verbiage such as 'source texts' and 'the LXX/the MT'. When you refer to �primary source texts of the Old Testament� it is unclear whether you mean the prestige given these two versions a) in various ecclesiastical traditions; b) as �source texts� which have been most often rendered into various receptor languages; c) in text critical discussions. Judging by your list of possible reasons for their ascendancy, I assume you mean the latter.

      The MT is important because the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible are based upon it and because it represents the type of standardized Hebrew text which was widely copied, disseminated, and printed from Medieval times onward. The consonantal framework of the MT seems to have been fixed from very ancient times and served as the holy writ for Rabbinic Judaism (as well as other traditions). It is not a �witness� as such, although it does present, among other things, a particular reading tradition of the Hebrew consonants along with signs indicating the manner in which these are to be cantillated.

      Certain Greek recensions (LXX if you will), along with the other OT versions, receive their importance due to the fact that in various places they are said to have been translated from a Hebrew text which appears to have differed significantly from that represented in the Masoretic textual tradition. You are right to highlight their age as one of the primary reasons for the attention they�ve received.

      As far as a given version of the OT being more or less important for text critical purposes, this depends on a myriad of factors and each version�s relative worth differs from book to book, and sometimes even within books. For example, Jerome�s first two editions of the Psalter are of comparatively small text critical worth for they were revisions of the /Vetus Latina/ which had been translated from a Greek source text. Likewise the Targum to Proverbs does little to assist in text critical matters because it has its basis in the Peshitta.

      Two resources that I would highly recommend for you are Emanuel Tov, /Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible/ (Minneapolis: Fortress Press; Assen: Van Gorcum), 1992, and Geoffrey Khan, �The Hebrew Bible,� in /The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible/ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). These are two introductions that will really help clarify terms and key concepts.

      Best of luck!

      Warm regards,

      In message <531666.53022.qm@...> textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com writes:
      > Dear Listees,
      > There seems to be the view that the two primary source texts of the Old Testament are the LXX and the MT, primarily because they are the:
      > i. oldest
      > ii. complete
      > iii. extant
      > witness to the Old Testament
      > 1. Do you agree with this?
      > 2. How about the Jerome's Vulgate? and other ancient translations?
      > 3. Why would the LXX perhaps be "of more value" to the OT textual critic than say Jerome's Vulgate?
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