RE: [textualcriticism] Reflections on the Isaiah Scroll: Mispellings
- Hi Daniel,
Examples would be good so we can check them for ourselves. Just a thought.
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011 08:58:32 -0700
Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Reflections on the Isaiah Scroll: MispellingsLooking at the Dead Sea Scrolls online, I see that the stitched-together sections are from two to four columns in width, but most typically four. The columns appear wider than those in typical NT uncial parchment codices.As I view the Great Isaiah Scroll, I see something very different from a typical manuscript of the Masoretic Text. Granted, this scroll's text-type is proto-Masoretic, with very few variations from the MT. But what is the nature of those variations? Well, at first blush it appears that they are nothing more than typical scribal errors. Let's look at a few:1. Misspellings.a) letters are transposed, resulting in either nonsense readings or wrong meanings. The MT was already known to differ in this way from ancient versions.b) similar looking letters are confused. This is especially likely to happen with the genitive prefixes l- and b-.c) similar sounding letters are confused, such as aleph and ayin.d) unpronounced letters are omitted, such as ayin.e) letters are added to dialectical influence, such as the Aramaic appended aleph.f) letters are omitted, such as preformed lamed and beth.g) synonymous forms of a word are confused, such as 'hibiytu' and 'yabiytu' (to regard).I'll get into 2. Parablepsis in my next post.Daniel Buck
- I got all these from http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/qum-1.htm with some input from http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/31_selections.html
You can check them out yourself.
The more I study individual manuscripts, the more appreciation I have for editions, which weed out the idiosyncracies of the various manuscripts and establish a text based either on the common reading of most manuscripts, or a reading found in a few but that best explains the existence of the usual one.
The Great Isaiah Scroll (GIS) is an example of a manuscript with its own idiosyncracies. Among these are places where the eye of the scribe skipped over a series of letters before coming to rest further down the line or page. This is one of the most common scribal errors, and it has three possible results:
1) The scribe catches himself and goes back to replace the missing letters. If they consist of one word in a list, he may insert if further down the list, resulting in the common feature of transposition. This also occurrs in any clause where the skipped word will also fit grammatically further into the clause. I'm not aware that anyone has named this phenomenon, but based on its occurrence I would tend to favor the reading in which a word is found in its normal place in a clause--for example, in Hebrew a verb found ahead of the subject and object.
2) The scribe doesn't catch himself, but a later editor does, and makes a marginal notation of the missing word. We then have two readings in the one manuscript. If a further scribe erases the correction, we are up to three.
3) No one notices the missing word(s), and the manuscript is copied as defective. Thus may arise a new family of manuscripts featuring the omission.
In the Great Isaiah Scroll we are most interested in finding a reading which was dropped later on in the transmission stream--as it were, looking past the parablepsis of a different scribe, who made a mistake of the third sort, and rediscovering a text which had been lost for centuries to readers of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is in fact what we are able to do with the words AOR V in 53:11. The Masoretic text translates as "from the labor of his soul, he will see, he will be satisfied". The GIS translates as "from the labor of his soul, he will see light and he will be satisfied." From a look at the LXX reading DEIXAI AUTW FWS, we have to either conclude that the scribe of the GIS was influenced by the Greek, or that the Greek preserved a text that included AOR where the Masoretic Text (MT) perpetuates a parableptic omission. Inasmuch as the former is hardly possible, we must go with the latter.
So much for parablepsis downstream (or in a side stream) of that of the GIS. We now turn to parablepsis that either occurred in the making of the GIS, or that of a manuscript further up the transmission stream.
We start with an h.t. in 2:2 AL . . . AL, in which the phrase AL HR YHWH, 'to the mountain of Yahowah,' is skipped over. It's in parallel with "to the house of the God of Jacob," so the omission was not readily recognized. This may well date back to a precursor of the GIS.
The next h.t. is rather substantial, going from 4:5 to 4:6 YMM . . . YMM, omitting "and smoke, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory a canopy. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow by day. . ." Clearly this omission badly damaged the sense, but even though the omission is located just above a large gap in the text where all 14 words could have been written in using a smaller script, it apparently was never caught. This sort of thing did not happen under the scrupulous care of the Masoretes.The first word of 5:15 in the MT consists of the single letter W, which is missing in the GIS. There are many such small omissions in the GIS, which could be chalked up to stylistic changes as much as inadvertent error. We shall, in general, continue looking only for what appear to be cases of h.t. But first we alight on another omission of a single letter, the article which begins line 23 of column 10, Isaiah 11:4. Without it, the MT can hardly be translated. With it, we easily translate the phrase as "he shall strike the earth." Again, this may have been a stylistic change, but for all intents and purposes this is being done every time the MT is translated.While we are on this topic, I have gone ahead and modified the title of this post to add "and Stylistic Changes" because it is hard to know sometimes where parablepsis leaves off and stylistic changes pick up. I take up in a later post a case where an incipient h.t. was corrected back to the text, when it may well have led to a transposition instead. For now we will look at 15:7, where the MT reads OL NXL HORBIM YShAWM (over the river of the poplars they shall bear them). The scribe behind the reading in the GIS changed the meaning to "over an arabian river they shall be borne" by inscribing OL NXL ORBI ThShAWM. This required two changes: loss of the article, and moving the M from the end of ORBIM to the beginning of YShAWM, and reading it as a Th. This is one of the best examples out of several unique readings in the GIS which seem to indicate an exemplar written in scripta continua.Well, that is probably enough for one post. Perhaps there are alrady a couple of applications we can made to Hebrew textual criticism from this information:1) Single-letter prefixes and suffixes are easily dropped or misplaced, especially in scripta continua, where reading a suffix as a prefix changes the meaning.2) A dropped one-letter morpheme in one manuscript, resulting in an odd-sounding reading, may lead to a stylistic change in a later manuscript, with a different meaning entirely.Daniel