Friday, July 24, 2015

Article on Jerome's Translations of Tobit and Judith

I'm glad to see that my article "Why Did Jerome Translate Tobit and Judith?" is now available in Harvard Theological Review. I submitted the final version of the article more than two years ago, so it's nice to see it finally published. You can read the article at my page.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Old Testament Canon in the Early Sixteenth Century

The sixteenth century was a big one for the Old Testament canon. You had Luther declaring 2 Maccabees noncanonical in the Leipzig Debate, Karlstadt writing a treatise on the canon (available here, p. 291ff.) in which he affirmed Jerome's position as standard (deuterocanonical literature excluded from canonical status), and the Council of Trent proclaiming the full canonicity of all the books in Augustine's canon (i.e., inclusive of deuterocanonicals; see here, and here, second bullet point from the bottom).

The positions of Erasmus and Cardinal Ximénes are somewhat less well-known, though also interesting. They both excluded the deuterocanonical literature from the canon. You can learn this in something like John Hayes' article on the "Historical Criticism of the Old Testament Canon" in vol. 2 of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament (2008), but tracking down the sources becomes a little more tedious because Hayes doesn't do a real good job of citing specific original sources. So, here you go. 

Cardinal Ximénes is most well known as the director of the Complutensian Polyglot project, published in 1522 though printed in the previous decade. The full-text of this work appears to be available at There aren't page numbers, but if you download it and look at p. 3 of your pdf, you'll find the second preface to the work, one entitled "To the Reader." (Of course, this is all in Latin, very small and hard to read. BTW, the first preface, addressed to the pope, is translated here.) About halfway down the first column, you'll find this passage: 
At vero libri extra canonem: quos Ecclesia potius ad aedificationem populi quam ad autoritatem ecclesiasticorum dogmatum confirmandam recipit. Graecam tamen habent scripturam: sed cum duplici latina interpretatione: altera beati Hieronymi: altera interlineari de verbo ad verbum: eo modo quo in caeteris. 
A translation might run:
But there are books outside the canon which the Church has received more for the edification of the people than for the authoritative confirmation of ecclesiastical dogmas. [this line is a quotation from Jerome's Preface to the Books of Solomon, discussed here, p. 102.] But they have Greek writing, but with a double Latin translation, one of blessed Jerome, the other a word-for-word interlinear, just as in the others. 
I think what Cardinal Ximémes is getting at with that last bit is that you, the reader, will be able to recognize which books I'm talking about because they wont have a Hebrew column, just Greek and Latin (though it's a double Latin translation, because the LXX features an interlinear Latin translation, as throughout the OT). I don't find that he actually names the books that he thus excludes from the canon, nor do I find that he names the books that he accepts, only classifying the canonical OT as Pentateuch, Prophets, Hagiographa.

[By the way, Hayes had cited prologue III.b. I assume this is a citation of the second prologue in vol. 3 of the Complutensian Polyglot, which corresponds to this same preface, which I guess is reprinted at the beginning of each OT volume. Hayes seems to have depended on Westcott, p. 478.]

Now for Erasmus. There are two chief passages, one being a preface to the fourth volume of Erasmus' 1525 edition of Jerome, the other found in Erasmus' Explanation of the Apostle's Creed.

I'm not sure of a convenient place to locate Erasmus' 1525 edition of Jerome, but the relevant comments in the preface were extracted by Humphrey Hody in this work, p. 661 col. 120.
Caeterum quo animo nunc Ecclesia habet in usu publico, quae veteres magno consensu numerabant inter Apocrypha, nondum satis constat. Nos sane quicquid Ecclesiastica comprobarit autoritas, simpliciter, ut Christiano dignum est amplectimur. -- Magnis certe refert, quid quo animo comprobet Ecclesia. Ut enim parem autoritatem tribuas Hebraeorum voluminibus, et 4 Evangeliis: certe non vult idem esse pondus Judith, Tobiae, et Sap. libris, quos Moysi Pentateucho. 
But in what spirit the Church now has them in public use which older writers by great consensus numbered among the apocrypha, is not sufficiently clear. We will embraces as worthy of Christian use whatever ecclesiastical authority approves.  By what spirit the Church approves certainly matters. For you would attribute equal authority to the volumes of the Hebrews and the four Gospels; she certainly does not want the same weight to belong to the books of Judith, Tobit, and Wisdom, as for the Pentateuch of Moses. (another translation available in Westcott, p. 252)
The Explanation of the Apostle's Creed (1533) is available in the nice Amersterdam edition for free download here (pp. 278–79). It is also available in the English translation published by Toronto, though it is not online. But you can see a little bit of the relevant passage on Google Books (p. 333). He first lists the OT books thus: Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kingdoms, Paralipomenon, two books of Ezra (which the Hebrews count as one), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Twelve Minor Prophets (not individually named), Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.
Intra hunc numerum conclusit priscorum autoritas Veteris Testamenti volumina, de quorum fide nephas esset dubitare. Nunc vero receptus est in usum ecclesiasticum et Sapientiae liber, quem quidam suspicantur esse Philonis Iudaei, et alius qui dicitur Ecclesiasticus, quem putant esse Iesu filii Sirach. Receptus est et liber Thobiae, et Iudith, et Hester, et Macchabeorum libri duo. Receptae sunt et duae historiae quae Danieli adnexae sunt, altera de Susanna, altera de Belo et Dracone, quas Hebraei non habebant. Sed Hieronymus testatur se vertisse ex aeditione Theodotionis. Caeterum an ecclesia receperit hos libros eadem autoritate que caeteros, novit ecclesiae spiritus. (lines 158–67)
That last line, in the Toronto translation, goes: "Only the Spirit of the church knows whether or not the church has accepted these books as of equal authority with the others." By the way, you'll notice that Erasmus omitted Esther from the canon and included it in this dubious category. That's sort of surprising, since Jerome includes Esther in the canon, and Erasmus was such a devotee of Jerome's. Athanasius (and some other Fathers) omit Esther form the canon and includes it in a list of books to be read by catechumens.

It's interesting to think about Erasmus composing this passage in 1533, after Karlstadt had published his book on the canon, when these issues were very much in the air. Erasmus had already been censured in the mid-1520s by the theological faculty of Paris for his reckless (in their view) statements on the NT books of Hebrews, James, and 2Peter. This later passage from 1533 seems to be treading pretty carefully, leaving the matter open to the church to decide, which Erasmus apparently thinks hasn't happened yet. For those loyal to Rome in the early sixteenth century, the status of the deuterocanonical literature remained an open question. Only in 1546 did the Council of Trent declare them all fully canonical. Even then, there seems to have been substantial debate at the Council and the delegates apparently did not intend their pronouncement to settle the matter (according to O'Malley, pp. 91–92). It looks like what had been intended as a working position became established law.

(By the way, other Catholics at that time also questioned the status of the deuterocanonicals--see Hayes for details.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Inspiration of the Vulgate

I'm more familiar with arguments for the inspiration of the LXX against the authority of the Vulgate, but of course those arguments--at least, in the form that they are familiar to me--are from the patristic era, when the status of the LXX was being threatened by Jerome's new translation from the Hebrew Bible.

Fast forward a thousand years, and the Vulgate has now become the Bible of the western church and attained the status of "inspired scripture." When Erasmus published the editio princeps of the Greek New Testament along with his revised Latin translation, he received the same kind of criticism Jerome received, and some of the same arguments were used. The critics of Erasmus--especially the Complutensian circle--were convinced that the Greek manuscripts of the NT had been corrupted by those schismatic Greeks, and so the Vulgate manuscripts were actually more authentic. So also in the patristic period some Fathers had argued that the Jews had corrupted the Hebrew text, and so the LXX was more authentic. The Complutensian Polyglot--with its three-column Old Testament consisting of Hebrew, Vulgate, and LXX--famously explains in a preface the order of its columns, like Jesus in between the two thieves; that is, the sacred Vulgate resided between the corrupt Hebrew text and the corrupt LXX.

One of Erasmus' critics was a Parisian scholar named Petrus Sutor, who published an attack in 1525 (available here). Jerry Bentley summarizes the argument thus:
the Vulgate is true, authoritative scripture; St. Jerome translated the entire Vulgate under direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and in fact was carried off to the third heaven in preparation for his task; abandoning the Vulgate in favor of new versions, whether Latin or vernacular, constitutes heresy and blasphemy. (p. 205)
On the next page, Bentley says that "Erasmus agreed that the Holy Spirit was in some way present when Jerome executed his work, but he flatly denied that the Spirit shielded the Vulgate from all errors" (p. 206, citing Apologia aduersus debacchationes Petri Sutoris, LB 9:737–812).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lies about Erasmus' Greek New Testament, or: The Wonders of Wikipedia.

You may have heard that Wikipedia is not to be trusted. This is generally true. The most recent post on this from the blogs I usually read is by Peter Head at the ETC blog from a couple months ago. Of course, that post deals with Wikipedia's shortcomings in regard to a NT text critical issue.

But it is also clear that Wikipedia provides a very helpful entry point to research on a number of topics. I was surprised at how helpful the article on Erasmus' New Testament is, containing details on the seven manuscripts used by Erasmus, and several paragraphs on each of the editions of the work. (On the other hand, the article on the Complutensian Polyglot is not so great.) This entry on Erasmus' New Testament is, in fact, more helpful in a number of areas, and apparently more accurate, than some of the standard or popular works on the NT text published by major scholars.

The two main points I remember learning, reading, and (alas!) teaching in regard to Erasmus' New Testament is that (1) he was in a race against the editors of the Complutensian Polyglot to produce the first published Greek New Testament, and (2) he endured great criticism for omitting the Comma Johanneum in his first two editions, which prompted him to make the rash bet that should anyone show him a Greek manuscript containing the passage, he would insert it in a subsequent edition; when a manuscript was produced for the purpose, Erasmus begrudgingly kept his word. The Wikipedia entry indicates that the second of these points is groundless, and it points the way toward learning that the first point also merits careful scrutiny.

The corrections to these traditional stories about Eramsus' edition are based on the work of Henk Jan de Jonge, especially this article on the Comma Johanneum (ETL, 1980) and this article on Erasmus' aims with his edition (JTS, 1984). You read that correctly: these articles were published in major journals over thirty years ago, but somehow their findings have not filtered in to the standard accounts of the history of the printed text of the NT. [I have not seen Andrew J. Brown's recent edition of Erasmus' New Testament, but judging by Jerry Lund's RBL review, it would add considerably to my understanding of all of these issues.]

For now, I'll just point out how Wikipedia is so much more valuable than the standard books in regard to the story about the Comma Johanneum.

Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum

De Jonge's article from 1980 cites the second edition (1968) of Metzger's handbook on NT text criticism as representative, but he shows that the story about the bet is standard fare for such books. The problem is that de Jonge could not find the story anywhere in Erasmus, nor in any book on Erasmus' New Testament until T.H. Horne's 1818 volume (see this edition from 1825, p. 127 with n. 2). Thence it became the standard story.

De Jonge's supposes this story to arise from a misinterpretation of two passages in Erasmus' defense (1520) of his New Testament against the criticisms of Edward Lee. The following are the two passages as translated by de Jonge in his article (pp. 385, 386):

If a single manuscript had come into my hands in which stood what we read (sc. in the Latin Vulgate) then I would certainly have used it to fill in what was missing in the other manuscripts I had. Because that did not happen, I have taken the only course which was permissible, that is, I have indicated (sc. in the Annotationes) what was missing from the Greek manuscripts.

What sort of indolence is that, if I did not consult the manuscripts which I could not manage to have? At least, I collected as many as I could. Let Lee produce a Greek manuscript in which is written the words lacking in my edition, and let him prove that I had access to this manuscript, and then let him accuse me of indolence.

Neither of these passages speaks of a bet, or even promises to include the disputed passage if a manuscript can be found which includes it. De Jonge emphasizes that there is no story about the bet for several hundred more years.

This article by de Jonge led Metzger to a more cautious approach in the third edition of his handbook (1992). The fourth edition (2005), in which Bart Ehrman's name appears with Metzger's on the title page, contains this account:
In an unguarded moment, Erasmus may have promised that he would insert the Comma Johanneum, as it is called, in future editions if a single Greek manuscript could be found that contained the passage. (p. 146)
At this point, Metzger/Erhman include a footnote: "It should, however, be noted that Henk Jan de Jonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies, could find no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion concerning a specific promise made by Erasmus," and then they cite his 1980 article. This caution is commendable, even if it did not quite make it into the text but is reserved for the note. But then the text continues:
At length, such a copy was found--or was made to order! As it now appears, the Greek manuscript had probably been written in Oxford about 1520 by a Franciscan friar named Froy (or Roy), who took the disputed words from the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus inserted the passage in his third edition (1522), but in a lengthy footnote that was included in his volume of annotations, he intimated his suspicion that the manuscript had been prepared expressly in order to confute him. (pp. 146–47)
Most of these ideas are doubtful. For the assertion that the manuscript was copied in 1520 by a Franciscan friar named Froy or Roy, Metzger/Ehrman rely on Harris' 1887 argument to this effect (pp. 46–53), an argument approved also by de Jonge (art. cit., 386), but now (apparently) called into question by Brown's edition of Erasmus (basing myself on Lund's review, as I don't have access to Brown's edition right now). Incidentally, the manuscript is minuscule 61. As to whether Erasmus suspected forgery, de Jonge's article again argues that this opinion is groundless in the works of Erasmus (386–89). What Erasmus does say in his comment on the passage--in regard to his inclusion of the passage based on what he could see to be a recent manuscript--is this: "Although I suspect this manuscript, too, to have been revised after the manuscripts of the Latin world" (trans. de Jonge p. 387).

[De Jonge says that Erasmus probably doubted the authenticity of the Comma Johanneum even after including it, but was willing to make the philological compromise for the sake of his larger aim.
The goal of Erasmus’ undertaking to imbue all Europe with a clear and simple gospel threatened to fail if Erasmus himself were tinged with any suspicion of unorthodoxy. For the sake of his ideal Erasmus chose to avoid any occasion for slander rather than persisting in philological accuracy and thus condemning himself to impotence. That was the reason why Erasmus included the Comma Johanneum even though he remained convinced that it did not belong to the original text of 1 John. (p. 385)]
Despite the caution shown in Metzger/Ehrman's handbook (in a footnote) in regard to the story of the bet, the same year (2005) Bart Ehrman published his popular account of NT TC, Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman includes the story--which he knows has no basis in the sources--without any hint that the story might be doubted:
As the story goes, Erasmus--possibly in an unguarded moment--agreed that he would insert the verse in a future edition of his Greek New Testament on one condition: that his opponents produce a Greek manuscript in which the verse could be found (finding it in Latin manuscripts was not enough). And so a Greek manuscript was produced. In fact, it was produced for the occasion. It appears that someone copied out the Greek text of the Epistles, and when he came tot he passage in question, he translated the Latin text into Greek, giving the Johannine Comma in its familiar, theologically useful form. The manuscript provided to Erasmus, in other words, was a sixteenth-century production, made to order. 
Despite his misgivings, Erasmus was true to his word and included the Johannine Comma in his next edition, and in all his subsequent editions. (pp. 81–82)
Another example (from across the theological spectrum from Ehrman): Stanley Porter has recently published a little book, How We Got the New Testament (2013). Throughout his chapter on the text of the NT, Porter seems to be relying on (among other sources) Metzger's second edition from 1968 (see 16n22), as he routinely cites this edition first, and then gives the corresponding page reference to the fourth edition (see, e.g., 36n85, n86, etc.). In his discussion of Erasmus, Porter relates the usual story about the bet in regard to the Comma Johanneum:
Erasmus--precipitously and unwisely, we now see--said that he would include these words (the so-called Johannine Comma) if they could be found in a single Greek manuscript. Lo and behold, such a manuscript appeared, now known as Gregory 61, held in the Trinity College Dublin library. It appears to have been written in 1520 in Oxford by someone named "Froy" or "Roy." Erasmus fulfilled his obligation and put the Johannine passage in his third edition of 1522, but with a footnote that indicated his doubts regarding its authenticity. 
Porter begins the story with a reference to Metzger (2d ed. and 4th ed., as per Porter's custom), and his account has obvious similarities to the story in Metzger. He apparently did not notice the footnote in Metzger's fourth edition, as he gives no hint that this story cannot be verified.

One last comment: it is strange for Porter to say that Erasmus included a footnote expressing doubts about minuscule 61. You can easily see Erasmus' third edition now, thanks to Google (see p. 522 for the Johannine Comma), and you can verify that there are no footnotes anywhere in the edition. Metzger expressly says that the footnote appears in the separate volume of Annotations.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

RBL Review of a Book on the Christian Apocrypha

RBL has now published my review of André Gagné and Jean-François Racine, eds., En marge du canon: Études sur les écrits apocryphes juifs et chrétiens (Paris: Cerf, 2012). You can find it here, along with another review (in French) of the same book.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Sectarian Samaritan Pentateuch?

I learned recently that my article "Is the Samaritan Pentateuch a Sectarian Text?" has appeared in the OT journal Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. The abstract is below. You can find the full-text at my page.
Scholars routinely describe the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) as a sectarian text, owing to the presence of a few variants in the SP in comparison with the Masoretic Text (MT). These particular readings are thought to highlight the Gerizim cult in a way peculiarly appropriate to Samaritanism and inappropriate for Jewish texts. But scholars now interpret some of the most prominent ›sectarian‹ elements of the SP as not sectarian at all, even while continuing to label the SP tendentious and sectarian. This paper examines the reasons for applying these terms to the SP and queries the usefulness of describing it in this manner.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Stilling of the Storm and OT Resonances

Yesterday morning I sat in a Bible class that covered the stilling of the storm pericope from Mark 4:35–41, and it got me thinking about the OT echoes in the story. Of course, I was thinking about this because I recently read Richard Hays' Reading Backwards (as I've mentioned before). As I thought about the story of a person asleep during a raging storm at sea, the narrative of Jonah popped into my head as obviously relevant. I couldn't remember that Hays had mentioned this, and I can now confirm that Jonah does not appear in the index. Hays' discussion of this episode in Mark appears on pp. 22–23, where he emphasizes Psa 107:23–32 as the most prominent echo. In his n. 13 on p. 117, he also mentions Job 26:10–12; 38:8–11; Psa 65:7; 89:9; 104:5–9; 106:8–12; Isa 51:9–11. So, no mention of Jonah, though I wouldn't want to dispute that Hays has correctly identified the most prominent echoes. It does seem to me, however, that the Markan author could have had Jonah in mind--just in terms of the person with the power to end the storm instead sleeping through it, though Jonah's power over the wind and waves is of a much different nature than that of Jesus. Of course, the stories end very differently, but even that might support Hays' overall point (the demonstration of the divine identity of Jesus in the Gospels). In the Jonah story, God obviously controls the wind and waves; Mark shows that Jesus has this authority.

Maybe there's something there. 

Jesus' Literacy and Piano Lessons

I started reading Chris Keith's Jesus' Literacy last week, finally, and I haven't been able to put it down. It is a wonderful piece of scholarship, and a real page-turner. (Apparently it hasn't been reviewed at RBL. Nor any of Chris Keith's books. Peculiar.)

I've only gotten through ch. 3, about 120 pages, so I'm not done yet. Upcoming chapters include an evaluation of the early Christian traditions about Jesus' literacy (ch. 4) and a historical reconstruction of Jesus' literate abilities (ch. 5). Previous chapters have explored the confusion in scholarship on whether Jesus was literate or illiterate (ch. 1)--here I really appreciated Keith's pointing out that for some scholars, Jesus was literate because he was a first-century Jew, meaning that he obviously learned to read the Torah, and for other scholars Jesus was illiterate because he was a first-century Jew, and a peasant to boot, meaning that he was just one of the illiterate masses--and a consideration of method in historical Jesus studies, entailing for Keith a rejection of the criteria of authenticity and an appreciation of social memory for the preservation of traditions about Jesus (ch. 2). I'm not a historical Jesus scholar, but what Keith has written here makes a great deal of sense to me, and it coheres with a larger trend in historical Jesus studies, as Keith points out, that began decades ago.

But the main reason I wanted to read this book was ch. 3, on scribal literacy in first-century Palestine, what that meant and who possessed it. This 50-page chapter is an excellent overview of the evidence and evaluation of that evidence. Keith affirms William Harris' suggestion that only about 10% of ancient people attained a significant degree of literacy. Some scholars argue that ancient Jews possessed unusually high literacy rates. Keith surveys the evidence put forward for this assertion and convincingly interprets it in different ways.

One of the main problems with thinking about ancient literacy is that all scholars who examine the matter grew up themselves in a society in which literacy is assumed for every adult. We assume literacy in the modern west because we assume literacy in the modern west--that is, we have an ideology according to which every person should be able to read and write. Employers demand literate workers. We communicate with each other through writing all the time. And we spend massive amounts of money on public education to make sure that no child is left behind, that everyone learns how to read. And if a person gets to teenage years without being a strong reader, we almost interpret that fact as evidence of societal sin.

But this entire ideology was lacking in antiquity, as Harris showed twenty-five years ago. First of all, there was a lack of a public educational system that instilled in all people the ability to read. Such a system has always been necessary to engender mass literacy, as Keith emphasizes (73–74). Furthermore, there was a lack of diffusion of written texts, lack of ideology that each person should be able to read, and lack of demand for a literate workforce (74n10, citing Harris).

I was reading this chapter while attending a piano competition. (It was an all-day event, and I paid attention when my daughters were playing! But when other kids were up, I read. :) And it got me thinking that perhaps playing the piano (or any musical instrument) might be a good modern analogy to ancient literacy. In the modern west, playing the piano is a highly prized skill that very few people acquire to any significant level. A good number of people learn some very basic things about the piano, and some do so without any formal education, but very few people learn enough about the piano to be able to perform in front of a paying audience. Likewise, in antiquity, very few people could read well enough to read in front of people (such as in synagogue).

Why this lack of knowledge of piano? Because not many people have studied it, and the reason for that is that our society has not deemed knowledge of piano to be such a universally valuable skill that everyone should acquire it (despite studies about its many benefits). So, there is not public education that assures that no child will be left behind in piano knowledge. There is no ideology that each individual should learn the piano. While there is plenty of sheet music around, there are fewer people that can do anything with it. And there is hardly any need for a piano-playing workforce.

That's not to say that when we meet someone who can play piano really well that we are not impressed, and wish that we also could do the same. We recognize it as a coveted skill. And yet, we think to ourselves, we have neither the time or (in some cases) the money to hire a personal tutor to train us in the skill. And we recognize that learning to play the piano well takes a lot of time, many years of constant practice.

There are varying levels of skill at playing piano. If you asked my oldest daughter (age 11) if she can play the piano, she will tell you that she can play some pieces, but not super complicated pieces. But neither can she read super complicated books (though if you asked whether she can read, her reply would be a simple yes). So also in antiquity, as Keith and others have demonstrated, there were varying levels of literacy. Actually this point should be so obvious that it hardly needs proof. Even today there are varying levels of literacy. When my son (age 6) finishes his beginning reading book, we wont say that he now knows how to read and be done with it. Learning to read well is a skill that takes many years of special training. Each school grade has special classes designed to help children progress in their ability to read. But once a person graduates high school, that does not signal that he or she can now read a book such as Keith's Jesus' Literacy. It would take several more years of specialized study to gain the competence to understand Keith's prose. (Keith uses something close to this analogy on p. 120.) For a complicated piano piece, my daughter would be able to identify the individual notes, but she would have trouble putting them together into a comprehensive whole. So also with complicated books. Reading the individual words does not entail comprehension.

The high respect that some people have today for classical music, or other types of music (folk, country, rock, rap, etc.) does not necessarily imply that they will learn to produce such music. If you love Mozart, that doesn't necessarily mean you're going to learn to play Mozart's music on the piano. More likely, you'll just pop in a CD and listen to someone else playing Mozart. (Am I dating myself with a reference to a CD?) So also with ancient Jews, their respect for the Torah does not necessarily imply that they would learn how to read it (despite frequent arguments to the contrary). Going to a symphony concert does not impart the skill of playing the music. (Neither does going to a restaurant impart the skill of cooking, nor going to a synagogue impart the skill of reading.) Even parents who can play the piano often feel they do not have the time to teach their children, or they may even think the skill is not valuable enough to their children to compensate for the hard work on both of their parts necessary for the parent to teach the child.

What would happen today if somehow you got a hold of a piece of sheet music that you needed to read? If you can't read music, you would take it to someone who does and see if they can play it for you. So also with ancient texts. But mostly not knowing how to play the piano does not affect you negatively, aside from the occasional wish that you could. It just doesn't come up very often in our society.

If archaeologists in 2000 years dig up a lot of sheet music from early 21st century America, some of them may conclude that playing the piano was a nearly universal skill. Of course, that would be the wrong interpretation.

Perhaps the analogy could be taken further, but I guess that's enough to make the point. I think this might be a useful pedagogical approach to exploring the lack of literacy in ancient societies.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

4QLev-d, 4QDeut-n, and the Pre-Samaritan Tradition

A comment in Emanuel Tov's Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (3d ed.) surprised me: he lists the scrolls belonging to the Samaritan Pentateuch group of texts found at Qumran, and he says that "possibly also 4QLev-d" should be classed among them (91). I thought that Leviticus stood out from the other books of the Samaritan Pentateuch as the one that did not feature any major expansions of text.

Let me explain: the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) is a version of the Torah that features several differences from the Jewish Torah. Among these differences are about forty major expansions to the Pentateuchal text, all consisting of material duplicated from elsewhere in the Pentateuch. For instance, in the Jewish Torah (Mosoretic Text--MT), God tells Moses to go warn Pharaoh that frogs are coming, and the next thing you read is that frogs are coming, but you never read that Moses went to warn Pharaoh. Well, in the SP, you do read that Moses warned Pharaoh; the text has been expanded with that conversation inserted. Similarly, when Moses reviews Israel's history in Deuteronomy 1–3, we encounter certain details that are not found in the MT version of Exodus or Numbers. The SP has those details inserted into Exodus and Numbers.

Aside from these major expansions, there is another category of differences between the SP and MT, consisting of Samaritan ideological alterations of the text--that is, someone committed to Samaritan theology, especially its emphasis on Mt. Gerizim as a holy site, inserted certain passages or minor revisions into the Torah to reflect this Samaritan theology. The number of definite Samaritan changes to the text is dwindling under scholarly scrutiny (see my recent article), but at least the Samaritan Tenth Commandment falls into this category.

Notice that the major expansions do not count as Samaritan ideological corrections. For one thing, they have nothing to do with particularly Samaritan theology. For another thing, almost all of these major expansions have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (definitely Jewish documents), especially 4QpaleoExod-m (4Q22), 4QNum-b (4Q27), 4Q(Reworked) Pentateuch (4Q158; 4Q364), and 4QEx-Lev (4Q17). Since these scrolls feature the major expansions preserved in the Samaritan Pentateuch, but not the Samaritan ideological insertions (i.e., the Samaritan Tenth Commandment), these Qumran scrolls (4QRP only secondarily) have been categorized as pre-Samaritan, under the assumption that it was one of these types of texts--current generally in Palestine during the last few centuries BCE--that the Samaritans chose as their base text before inserting some of their own ideological alterations into the text.

Now, it seems clear that the Samaritans chose their text deliberately, because most of the books in their Pentateuch bear the same character--expansive texts. (Not the most expansive versions of the respective books, mind you: 4Q158, 4Q364, and other scrolls feature even more additional material.) Sometimes you'll read that the Samaritans chose an expansive text "in all five Torah books" (Tov, Textual Criticism, 93), but this is not technically accurate, because there's no such thing as an expansive text of Leviticus. Eugene Ulrich, who has emphasized more than anyone the pluriform character of ancient scriptural texts and has pushed scholars to think in terms of variant literary editions for ancient scriptural books, says that there are no variant literary editions attested for Leviticus, just the one long known from the MT (see his essay in Tov's Festschrift, p. 459).

But then I find that Tov thinks maybe there is a Leviticus scroll in the expansive tradition. So, why does he think 4QLev-d belongs to this tradition? The main reason seems to be there is a substantial expansion found in the text at Lev 17:4. Here's the text in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (p. 95), with the additional material (vis-a-vis MT) in italics.
and [has not brought it] to the door of the tent of meeti[ng so as to sacrifice it as a burnt offering] or an offering of well-being to the Lord to be acceptable as [a pleasing odor, and has slaughtered it without and] does not bring it [to the door of the tent of me]eting to offer it as an offering to the Lord before the taber[nacle] of the Lord...
The SP and the LXX also attest this expansion. But that's about it for the scroll. There are a few other minor variants. The whole scroll is not very big and contains only parts of Lev 14:27–29, 33–36; 15:20–24; 17:2–11.

It seems unlikely that 4QLev-d does belong to the expansive group, or certainly that it should be classified as pre-Samaritan, without further evidence. It doesn't really conform to the pattern: yes, it has a major expansion shared by SP, but that same expansion is also shared by LXX. But the LXX doesn't share the SP expansions as a rule. Though the LXX and SP frequently agree against MT in minor variants, they do so in none of the other major expansions. In fact, elsewhere Tov has classified the scroll as in the LXX group (see here, p. 297). Neither does it conform to the pattern in the sense of duplicating material found elsewhere in the Pentateuch. Magnar Kartveit doesn't even count this case as one of the major expansions in SP, presumably because of its deviation from the pattern. Eugene Ulrich considers this reading to be an "isolated supplement," not indicative of a variant literary edition.

This case may be compared to that of 4QDeut-n. Scholarly consensus says that 4QDeut-n is not a pre-Samaritan text (Elizabeth OwnSidnie White Crawford), a view with which Tov (91n147) is in agreement. This view makes sense because 4QDeut-n doesn't actually share any major expansions with SP. But it does share the method of expansion. That is, 4QDeut-n has only one major expansion: in the Ten Commandments (Deut 5), our scroll combines the Sabbath command justification from Exodus (creation) with the justification from Deuteronomy (Egyptian slavery), so that both justifications appear in the Deuteronomy text. This expansion is not known in any other text, including the SP. But the method of expanding the text is very similar to the way the SP expansions operate. Indeed, the method here is much more similar to the major expansions of SP than is the method of the expansion of Lev 17:4 in 4QLev-d. Based on this example, one might want to label 4QDeut-n as pre-Samaritan. After all, 4QNum-b contains an expansion (in ch. 36) not attested in the SP, but it still gets the label pre-Samaritan because all of the SP expansions in Numbers are found in 4QNum-b. Who's to say whether--if we had more of 4QDeut-n--it would not also contain the expansions of SP Deuteronomy? There are only two expansions in SP Deuteronomy at Deut 2:7 and 10:6, both duplicating material from Numbers. 4QDeut-n is not extant for these passages. The scroll probably never contained the entire text of Deuteronomy, but was instead an excerpted text. The only preserved portions of text are Deut 8:5–10 (col. 1) and Deut 5:1–6:1 (cols. 2–6). At any rate, it could have received the label pre-Samaritan on the basis of method of expansion, under the assumption that had more of the text been preserved, there probably would have been overlaps with the expansions in SP. And the 4QDeut-n expansion not attested in SP would be like the 4QNum-b expansion not attested in SP. Nevertheless, on the basis of lack of evidence, 4QDeut-n gets the label non-aligned because it doesn't line up with the MT or the SP or the LXX.

The case with 4QLev-d is different, but not completely dissimilar. We don't have much of the text. What we do have features a shared expansion with SP and LXX, but there is no overall pattern to expansion in Leviticus, so that even Ulrich wont go so far as to say there are variant literary editions for this book.

All that to say, I consider it very dubious that 4QLev-d belongs to the pre-Samaritan group, despite Tov's opinion that it possibly does so.