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3137RE: [textualcriticism] RELIABLE TRANSMISSION HISTORY; LXX Versus MT

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  • Richard J. Saley
    May 15, 2007
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      Hello, again, Larry,

      Your understanding is indeed correct that some of the scrolls from the caves at
      Qumran exhibit a text that is essentially in agreement with the Masoretic text.
      What is equally important, of course, is that texts of different types were
      also found at Qumran and elsewhere in the Judaean Desert. Thus, for example,
      the oldest text found at Qumran (ca. 250 BCE) is 4QExod-Lev-f, which is of the
      type later found in the Samaritan Pentateuch (but not in the Masoretic Text).
      Other Hebrew texts agree with the Septuagint against the MT: for example, in
      that section of 4QSam-a where the Old Greek is extant, there are over 200
      instances where 4QSam-a agrees with one or the other of the MT and the Old
      Greek, but not both. In 2 out of every 3 of these instances 4QSam-a agrees
      with the Old Greek against the MT.

      There are also Hebrew text-types--for lack of a better term--at Qumran and
      elsewhere that do not correspond to the MT, Old Greek or Samaritan texts. What
      groups these might have belonged to is unknown to us. (The scholarly consensus
      is that the majority of the scrolls found at Qumran were not produced there,
      but brought from elsewhere, thus providing somewhat of a cross-section of the
      differing types of texts found in Palestine between ca. 250 BCE and 68 CE.) The
      overall picture gleaned, then, is one of textual fluidity and plurality prior to
      the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 CE. That calamitous event
      brought an end once and for all to the sacrificial cultus of the biblical
      period, leaving as its replacement synagogal prayer and the reading of the
      biblical text. Of those worshipping groups that existed prior to 70 CE, only 3
      continued to exist thereafter in an organized fashion: the former temple
      (Pharisaic) establishment with its text (the pre-/proto-MT); the Samaritans
      with their text (the Samaritan Pentateuch); and the Jewish Christian sect with
      its text (the LXX). The other texts, devoid of a worshipping community, ceased
      to be copied and died out, and when the consonantal text of what was to become
      the MT was fixed in the late 1st century CE (or early 2nd century), it was not
      necessarily the best text ever for a particular book that was chosen, but
      rather that text that had survived.

      Quoting Larry Overton <LGO@...>:

      > Well said, Dick.
      > Continuing this discussion regarding the reliability of the transmission
      > history of the Masoretic text, I acknowledge that which Viktor pointed out
      > and you reiterated, namely, the dearth of witnesses to the Masoretic text
      > prior to the ninth century. However, it is my impression that evidence for
      > the text type that came to be identified with the work of the Masoretes is
      > to be found well before their time.
      > For instance, it has long been my understanding that some of the scrolls
      > from the caves at Qumran exhibit a text that is essentially in agreement
      > with the Masoretic text. I have read others who have maintained this
      > position, and from what I have read of _The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible_ (Abegg,
      > Flint & Ulrich), this seems to be the case.
      > I would appreciate hearing from list members on this point.
      > Larry G. Overton

      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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