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3128Re: [textualcriticism] RELIABLE TRANSMISSION HISTORY; LXX Versus MT

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  • Richard J. Saley
    May 9, 2007
      Dear Larry,

      Whoops, you are absolutely right! In my haste not only did I misinterpret
      Philip's question, but I misstated the dates for the Masoretes and, for good
      measure, left out the first 'e' in the word 'Masortes'. (You might say, I'm
      left with 'gg' on my face!) Instead of 9th-10th centuries CE I should have
      given 7th-11th centuries CE--with the 10th being the most important with the
      work of the Ben Asher family--as the dates for the main work of the Masoretes.

      But to get to the main point of Philip's question, as properly understood,
      Viktor Golinets, in a response subsequent to both mine and yours, has sketched
      out the difficulties attendant to ascertaining evidence of Hebrew scribal
      practice between the 1st century CE (presumably the time of the consonantal
      stabilization of the text of the Hebrew Bible) and the 9th century CE. That
      having been acknowledged, there is little doubt--in my mind, anyway--that the
      TRANSMISSION HISTORY of the MT was more reliable and less susceptible to errors
      than the TRANSMISSION HISTORY of the SEPTUAGINT. That is because the Septuagint
      as it has been handed down to us is a mixture of text-types: the Old Greek (the
      'original' translation in the 3rd-2nd centuries BCE); kaige Greek (the Old Greek
      revised toward the developing pre-/proto-Masoretic text in the mid to late first
      century BCE); Hexaplaric revisions to the Greek (based on the fifth column of
      Origen's mid-third century CE Hexapla) to more fully align it with the finally
      fixed Hebrew text; and even the literalistic work of the second century CE
      Aquila which might be found in certain books of the Septuagint. To this needs
      to be added the Lucianic edition of the Septuagint as it is increasingly
      becoming defined which points in many instances to readings closer to the Old
      Greek than found in any other Greek source, while evidencing a substratum of
      revisions unique to that tradition.

      To put it differently, the Septuagint as we have it is anything but a monolithic
      whole, and the 'original' Old Greek has in many, many places been revised out of
      existence or simply replaced by a later textual tradition. Often this has been
      intentional by tradents to bring the Greek text closer to the fully developed
      Hebrew. In other cases it has been accidental, not only the result of the types
      of errors that all scribes make, but in the larger mixing of text-types. The
      parade example of the latter may be found in the Septuagint text of
      Samuel-Kings (1-4 Reigns) where 1Sam 1:1-2Sam 11:1 and 1Kgs 2:12-21:43 are Old
      Greek in our best manuscripts while 2Sam 11:2-1Kgs 2:11 and 1Kgs 22:1-2Kgs
      25:30 are kaige.

      I hope this has helped clear up the confusion caused by my first response. In
      the process I have taken a vow never to respond to a list while taking a quick
      break from working in the garden on a weekend.

      Dick Saley

      Quoting "Larry G. Overton" <LGO@...>:

      > Dick,
      > I believe your statement needs clarification. Your reference to "the
      > work of the Masortes [sic] (9th-10th centuries C.E.)" is not
      > altogether clear. If by this you mean the dates of the oldest extant
      > MSS of the Masoretic Text (e.g., the Aleppo Codex), then I have no
      > argument with your comment itself.
      > However, if I have interpreted your comment correctly, then I must
      > say that I fail to see how the fact of "the beginning translation of
      > the Hebrew Bible into Greek" occurring many centuries before the
      > dates of the oldest extant MSS of the Masoretic Text actually
      > addresses the issue at hand. The question raised by Philip concerns
      > transmissional reliability, or, in his words, "the TRANSMISSION
      > HISTORY of the MT seems to be more reliable and less susceptible to
      > errors than the TRANSMISSION HISTORY of the LXX" (emphasis his).
      > In fact, in that context, my first inclination when reading your
      > statement about "the work of the Masortes" was to interpret your
      > words as a comment meant to limit the work of the Masoretes to 9th
      > and 10th centuries AD. Of course, such was not the case, and upon
      > reflection I don't think that was the message you were trying to
      > convey.
      > Would you please elaborate on your previous comment for us?
      > Larry G. Overton
      > Yahoo! Groups Links

      Richard J. Saley, Ph.D.
      Lecturer on the Ancient Near East
      Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
      Harvard University
      Six Divinity Avenue
      Cambridge, MA 02138-2020 USA
      Tel: 617-495-4239
      Fax: 617-496-8904
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