[textualcriticism] Deuteronomy 32:8 - according to the number of the children of Israel.
Deuteronomy 32:8 (AV)
When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance,
when he separated the sons of Adam,
he set the bounds of the people
according to the number of the children of Israel.
The question here is : "the number of the children of Israel." which is in all the Hebrew manuscripts.
All the traditional Reformation Bible editions and all the Jewish Bibles agree on this text.
However, the NETBible from Daniel Wallace and friends shows you some of the current thinking in modern scholarship
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
when he divided up humankind,
he set the boundaries of the peoples,
according to the number of the heavenly assembly.
3 tc Heb the sons of Israel. The idea, perhaps, is that Israel was central to Yahwehs purposes and all other nations were arranged and distributed according to how they related to Israel. See S. R. Driver, Deuteronomy (ICC), 355-56. For the MT (bÿney yisrael, sons of Israel) a Qumran fragment has sons of God, while the LXX reads (angelwn qeou, angels of God), presupposing (bÿney el) or (beney elim). Sons of God is undoubtedly the original reading; the MT and LXX have each interpreted it differently. MT assumes that the expression sons of God refers to Israel (cf. Hos. 1:10), while LXX has assumed that the phrase refers to the angelic heavenly assembly (Pss 29:1; 89:6; cf. as well Ps 82). The phrase is also attested in Ugaritic, where it refers to the high god Els divine assembly. According to the latter view, which is reflected in the translation, the Lord delegated jurisdiction over the nations to his angelic host (cf. Dan. 10:13-21), while reserving for himself Israel, over whom he rules directly. For a defense of the view taken here, see M. S. Heiser, Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God, BSac 158 (2001): 52-74.
And this new text is followed by some of the other modern versions.
NRSV - according to the number of the gods;
NLT - according to the number of angelic beings.
MSG - within boundaries under the care of divine guardians.
ESV - according to the number of the sons of God.
So, per NETBible, the hundreds of Masoretic Text manuscripts are "undoubtedly" wrong :).
And the one DSS fragment is "undoubtedly" right.
Daniel O. McClellan (graduate student in Biblical Studies) explained the current thinking this way on an internet forum:
.... your Bible has numerous spurious texts and interpolations. Your Bible's version of Deut 32:8, for instance, has a tertiary alteration that was effected in the Common Era. The verse originally ended "according to the number of the sons of God" (cf. 4QDeut-j). Some Septuagint manuscripts changed it in the late Greco-Roman period to "angels of God," and the Masoretic texts centuries later finally removed the reference to divine beings by changing it to "sons of Israel." .
And the paper referenced above in the NETBible by Michael Heiser is available online:
Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God (2001)
And apparently all this represents something like the "state of the art" of Tanach (Old Testament) Textual Criticism, with everybody who is anybody agreeing on the originality of the DSS fragment and the inauthenticity of the hundreds of Masoretic Text manuscripts.
Another state of the art paper is :
A Note on the Text of Deuteronomy xxxii 8 (2007)
Yet, I see some little problems here, in methods of thinking, in creation of scenarios, in working with chronology, in evaluation of evidences, in circular presumptions and in logic.
So, I would like for now to simply leave this interesting question to the forum. We do not have much discussion of OT topics, but this one caught me by surprise and I found it fascinating to study out. I also think it can show us a lot about deficiencies in modern textual thinking.
- No problem. The dual cataloging system for the DSS is absurdly confusing to everybody, probably including the good folks who devised it.
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Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 08:32:49 -0700
Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Re: 4Q37 and "sons of God"Apparently 4Q37 was the 37th mss recovered from Cave 4, now cataloged as 4QDeut-j, and conflated by none other than yours truly as 4QDeut37. So we can remove that ID number from the list right off! and are back to two DSS mss that contain the phrase in question.Daniel Buck