Friday, August 29, 2014

Augustine's _Questions on Joshua_ and the Hebrew Bible

Continuing in the same series; earlier posts here and here.

Question 7 on Joshua 5:13–15 (pp. 423–24)

At the end of this comment, Augustine points out that despite what his Latin text seems to say (in Iericho), Joshua was not actually in Jericho at the time of encountering the "commander-in-chief of the force of the Lord" (5:14 NETS) because the walls had not yet come tumblin' down. He must have been outside the walls, in the field. nam interpretatio, quae est ex hebraeo, sic habet. Sure enough, the Vulgate does explicitly say that Joshua was in the field of the city of Jericho (in agro urbis Hiericho, 5:13). The MT has ביריחו. BHS lists no variants, and this passage is not extant among the DSS. It looks like Jerome has added some clarifying words (in agro urbis) to his translation, and Augustine has accepted this translation as a precise reflection of the Hebrew text and so confirmation of his view that Joshua was not actually in Jericho but outside it. This is similar to what we saw in the previous post in Question 20 on Deut 14:28-29.

Question 15 on Joshua 10:5–6 (p. 432)

After the Israelites make a covenant with the Gibeonites (Josh 9), some Canaanite kings attack Gibeon and Gibeon asks the Israelites for help (Josh 10:1-6). In the LXX, the five kings that attack Gibeon are called kings of the Jebusites (10:5), but later when the Gibeonites ask for help, they describe their attackers as kings of the Amorites (10:6). In the MT, the term Amorite appears both places. Augustine notes this fact and says that the Hebrew makes sense because really the term Jebusite refers to an inhabitant of Jerusalem, not to a Canaanite more generally. Or maybe it can, Augustine suggests, like Libya can mean a part of Africa or Africa as a whole, and Asia can mean part or whole.

Augustine doesn't offer any more explanation. He does not say whether the Hebrew text or the LXX is correct, or whether one of them has suffered scribal corruption, and he does not discuss what spiritual realities might lie behind either rendering. He does seek to explain how his traditional Latin text (based on the LXX) might make sense after all, though it seems to me that he prefers the easier explanation that the Hebrew text preserves the correct reading here.

Question 19 on Joshua 16:10 (pp. 434–35)

At Josh 16:10, after saying that the Ephraimites did not drive out the Canaanites from Gezer, the MT simply says that the Canaanites in Gezer have been subjected to forced labor. In the LXX, instead of this conclusion, we find a much longer statement:
until Pharao, king of Egypt, went up and took it, and he burned it with fire, and they massacred the Chananites and the Pherezites and those living in Gazer, and Pharao gave it as a dowry to his daughter. (NETS)
This supplement is taken mostly from 1Kings 9:16–17.

The problem for Augustine - before even mentioning the textual variant - is that the Book of Joshua was written near in time to the events it describes, so how could the author know what Pharaoh would later do? He would have to have included this detail through prophecy, but why would this particular detail - which seems a rather insignificant matter - be chosen for prophetic inclusion? Augustine gives up on this route and attributes the addition instead to the Seventy translators.
proinde potius existimandum est septuaginta interpretes, qui auctoritate prophetica ex ipsa mirabili consensione interpretati esse perhibentur, haec addidisse, non tamquam futura praenuntiantes, sed quia illo tempore ipsi erant, quo facta esse meminerant et in libris Regnorum legerant; etenim regum temporibus factum est. quod ideo credibilius nobis uisum est, quoniam inspeximus interpretationem quae est ex hebraeo et hoc ibi non inuenimus. 
So one should rather conclude that the Seventy translators, who, because of the miraculous consensus, are regarded as having translated with prophetic authority, added these things, not as if predicting the future, but because they lived in that time in which they mentioned that these things were already done and they are read in the books of Kings. It was accomplished in the times of the Kings. This seems all the more credible to me because I have inspected the interpretation which is from the Hebrew and I did not find this. 
Augustine compares this passage to another one, when Joshua pronounces a curse on anyone who would rebuild Jericho (6:26). The MT shows the fulfillment of this curse in 1 Kings 16:34, but the LXX has that fulfillment already mentioned in the original verse (Josh 6:26). Here again, Augustine has checked the interpretatio ex hebraeo and found that the fulfillment is not contained in Josh 6:26.
unde adparet a Septuaginta interpositum, qui factum esse nouerant
so it is apparent that it was inserted by the Seventy, who knew what had happened.
Augustine does not think that these insertions are a product of any special knowledge on the part of the Seventy. They were just expanding the narrative with further information available to them and not available to the original authors. But he is careful to say that they do have prophetic authority, thereby justifying their editing of scripture.

Question 24 on Joshua 23:14 (p. 443)

Joshua says that he is about to "go the way of all the earth." Augustine finds the term recurro in his text, whereas the interpretatio quae est ex hebraeo has the verb ingredior. So, the Hebrew text just has "go," but the LXX has "return." The Seventy translators must have been thinking of something like the passage at Gen 3:19, where God says to that man that he will return to the earth, in reference to his body. Augustine realizes that the word "return" could be used in reference to the spirit, like in Eccl 12:7 where the spirit returns to God, but he thinks this makes sense only for the righteous. Joshua is certainly righteous, but since he says "return like all who are on the earth," he seems to be including the wicked and so he must not be talking about the spirit returning to God but the body returning to the earth. At the end of this discussion, Augustine turns to a critique of the Latin translator of the LXX, who found in his Greek text the word ἀποτρέχω and rendered it recurro instead of percurro or excurro. He thinks that the rendering of ἀποτρέχω at Gen 24:51 with recurro has influenced the translator of Josh 23:14.

So I'm not sure what to make of this discussion. At the end of it he seems unsure whether the LXX has the verb ἀποτρέχω: si hoc potest dici quod graecus habet ἀποτρέχω. He seems to think that recurro is not the best translation of this Greek word, both because of the meaning of the Greek word and because of the context of the passage. But at the beginning of the discussion Augustine seemed to want to find the appropriate interpretation for recurro, and attributed the use of that word to the Seventy translators. Maybe as he is writing his answer he continues to do more research, looks at the Greek text (instead of just his Latin translation of it) and finds ἀποτρέχω, and then becomes doubtful that recurro is even the right word to use.

Question 25 on Joshua 24:3 (pp. 443–44)

The LXX of Josh 24:3 has God say that he took Abraham and led him "in all the land," whereas the MT has "in all the land of Canaan" (בכל ארץ כנען). Jerome's Vulgate has "in the land of Canaan" (in terram Chanaan), which Augustine takes to be a precise representation of the Hebrew text.
mirum est ergo, si Septuaginta pro terra Chanaan omnem terram ponere uoluerunt nisi intuentes prophetiam, ut magis ex promissione dei tamquam factum accipiatur, quod certissime futurum in Christo et in ecclesia praenuntiabatur, quod est uerum semen Abrahae non in filiis carnis, sed in filiis promissionis. 
It is remarkable, then, if the Seventy wanted to put "all the land" instead of "land of Canaan," unless considering prophecy, so that it should be accepted as done more from the promise of God, because the future in Christ and in the Church was certainly being pre-announced, because the true seed of Abraham is not in sons of the flesh but in sons of promise (Rom 9:8).
Augustine seems to be interpreting the LXX's "all the land" as meaning "the entire earth" so that it has reference to the spiritual inheritance of the spiritual descendants of Abraham in Christ (cf. Rom. 4:13). Whereas Jerome's Vulgate reflects the original text accurately, the Seventy wanted to point toward spiritual realities.

No comments: