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[textualcriticism] Deuteronomy 32:8 - children of Israel - examining the ancient text-lines

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  • schmuel
    Hi Folks, Steven Here I will respond to the post that I consider a breath of fresh analysis air. Deuteronomy 32:8 (AV) When the most High divided to the
    Message 1 of 40 , May 4 5:43 PM
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      Hi Folks,

      Here I will respond to the post that I consider a breath of fresh analysis air.

      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.

      Robert Relyea
      To be clear, do you really mean all the Hebrew manuscripts,

      Thanks, I realized that this was technically wrong right after sending the post and doing the famous
      post-facto proofread, and I compliment you for paying attention, since of course the DSS Hebrew manuscript is different.  Afaik, that is the only Hebrew ms with "sons of God", or anything other than "children of Israel".

      or do you mean all the MT manuscripts. It's clearly an old MT reading as the Vulgate has it.

      Thanks, Bob.  Finally, somebody who is interested in the actual textual issues ..... rather than, or at least before, our mind-reading of the doctrinal perspectives of scribes and copyists and priests in different cultures and times.  Notice how such mind-reading (word borrowed from James White) can frequently allow either side of an issue to be taken.  We should be aware of this element from NT studies, I know that astute writers including Maurice Robinson have pointed out this "both ends against the middle" phenomenon.  ie.  Depending on what you want to be original, you can tailor the arguments to fit the need.  Hello, Mr. Hort.

      Robert, you are 100% to point out that the Vulgate affirms the Masoretic Text reading here.  And since Jerome did that translation in consultation with the Jews in Israel at 400 AD, using the fine library at Caesarea, he was surely using manuscripts of some lineage. This is a critical piece of information, even if modern techie high-level textcrits have been brainwashed to think otherwise (this is based on a recent conversation, and it is rather a fascinating and tricky circularity.  The mss are declared unimportant because they are pre-Masoretic, thus they can be ignored even when they demonstrate the fealty and antiquity of a Masoretic Text variant against various unusual variants and emendations.

      What does the Samaritan Pentateuch read? If it reads Israel, then it's unlikely a 1st century corruption,

      Excellent !  Gold star from my perspective.  This was exactly the first key to our debate (Daniel McClellan and myself on CARM).  In the textual analysis in my original post, the corruption was actually accused of being even later, about 400-500 AD.  And of course the Samaritan Pentateuch, supporting the Masoretic text, refutes any idea of late corruptions that are supposed to be making new variants. 

      and more likely a change in the LXX or it's Vorlage (probably the latter.

      We always have to remember that the Greek OT was subject to heavy competitive doctrinal and textual tampering from 100 AD to Vaticanus and Alexandrinus.  Think "reigned from the tree". Think Romans 3 back-pedaled into Psalm 14. And more.  So nothing definitive here, but both alternatives make sense, a 1st or 2nd century change, or an earlier Vorlage.  See below for more evidence that the 'LXX' actually changed late.

       It seems natural for the translator to translate "sons of God" as "angels of God", but a stretch to translate "Sons of Israel" to "angles of God").

      Now I am going to add mention of some other evidences.

      The Targum Ps-Jonathan and the Jerusalem Targum both give strong support to the MT variant.  (Targum Onkelos bypasses in its interpretative mode.) From Etheridge's translation.

      The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch with the fragments of the Jerusalem Targum [tr.] from the Chaldee by John Wesley Etheridge (1865).

      Targum Ps-Jonathan
      When the Most High made allotment of the world unto the nations which proceeded from the sons of Noach, in the separation of the writings and languages of the children of men at the time of the division, He cast the lot among the seventy angels, the princes of the nations with whom is the revelation to oversee the city, even at that time He established the limits of the nations according to the sum of the number of the seventy souls of Israel who went down into Mizraim. (p. 662)

      Jerusalem Targum from the Chaldee
      When the Most High divided the nations by lot, and distinguished the languages of the children of men, He appointed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the tribes of the Beni Israel. p. 663

      The Syriac Peshitta, considered to be translated about 100 AD also shows the Masoretic Text reading.

      And if you read Michael Heiser's paper, (url below)

      Michael S. Heiser, Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God, Bibliotheca Sacra 158 (January-March 2001): 52-74.

      you will discover that even 'LXX' manuscripts that can be considered very early in the GOT textline also support the Masoertic Text.  Heiser notes that "several later revisions of the LXX" and a manuscript of Aquila, a manuscript of Symmacheus and Theodotion all reflect the Masoretic Bible text, not the Vaticanus LXX text, which is the majority Greek text with "angels of God".

      Note that the 3 names given (Aquila, Symmacheus, Theodotion) are all very early in "LXX" studies (2nd century AD). Yet another strong evidence that the Greek was subject to doctrinal tampering (a common event) to bring forth "angels of God" 

      The Samaritan Pentateuch deep-sixes any theory of late Masoretic Text emendation.
      However, the cake has a lot of icing. 

      And what surprises me is that all this is modern textual "science".  A paper like Michael Heiser's is lauded, yet he never discusses the huge problems with this theories by the evidences like the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Targumim and the Syriac Peshitta.  In fact, he never even states what is in those texts.  

      And from a base of non-scholarship, fanciful theories of Masoretic Text emendation are developed.

      Steven Avery
      Queens, NY

      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 Yahweh’s 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 yisra’el, “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 El’s 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)
      Michael Heiser

      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)
      Jan Joosten

    • Dave Washburn
      No problem. The dual cataloging system for the DSS is absurdly confusing to everybody, probably including the good folks who devised it. Dave Washburn
      Message 40 of 40 , May 12 7:46 AM
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        No problem. The dual cataloging system for the DSS is absurdly confusing to everybody, probably including the good folks who devised it.

        Dave Washburn
        Check out my review show, No Life With Irving

        To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
        From: bucksburg@...
        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

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