Friday, August 12, 2016

Alexandrian Canon

The Alexandrian Canon hypothesis is the idea that Jews in Alexandria maintained a different, wider canon than Palestinian Jews. Whereas Palestinian Jews in the first century basically adhered to what would become the rabbinic canon of 24 books--attested, more-or-less, by Josephus at the end of the first century--Alexandrian Jews accepted all of these books and then some, especially the deuterocanonical books that are found in LXX manuscripts. The idea is often associated with Semler.

The main monograph that is always cited about the Alexandrian Canon is Albert Sundberg's dissertation (at Harvard) published as The Old Testament of the Early Church (1964), which attempted to undermine the theory. Sundberg's main arguments were that Alexandrian Jewish writers (e.g. Philo) show no signs of maintaining a canon wider than the Palestinian Jewish canon, and the Palestinian Jewish canon was not settled in the first century anyway, and the Dead Sea Scrolls show us that a large body of literature was considered sacred. This last point makes the Alexandrian Canon theory useless, because the theory is supposed to explain why Christians ended up with a wider canon than Jews, and it does so by saying Jews adopt the Palestinian Jewish canon whereas Christians inherited the Alexandrian Jewish canon (via the LXX). Sundberg said this scenario was not the reason Jews and Christians ended up with different canons, but rather there was no Jewish canon in the first century--neither in Palestine nor in Alexandria--there was just a bunch of religious literature. It was only after Judaism and Christianity split off from each other that each formed its own canon.

(Actually, Sundberg advocated the three-stage theory of canon development, whereby the Torah was canonized sometime in the fifth century BCE, and the Prophets were canonized maybe around 200, and the Hagiographa were canonized at the Council of Yavneh at the end of the first century CE. So, in the first century, Christians inherited from Jews a closed section of Torah and a closed section of Prophets and an open third section consisting of a wide array of religious literature. It was this third section that the two groups 'closed' in different fashions after their split. The Jews closed it at Yavneh, the Christians later on.)

Sundberg (pp. 18–19) says the theory of an Alexandrian canon was first formulated by John Ernest Grabe at the beginning of the eighteenth century in an edition of the LXX based on Alexandrinus. But Sundberg (p. 18 n. 47) reports that Grabe's work was not available to him (which is strange, considering Sundberg did his dissertation at Harvard--I would have thought Harvard had almost everything). So Sundberg didn't realize that the theory was actually not formulated by Grabe but by another fellow named Francis Lee, who wrote the Prolegomena to the second volume of Grabe's edition of Alexandrinus in 1719. Later scholars (post Sundberg) have been more precise in making this distinction. The second volume of Grabe's edition is available here; it doesn't have page numbers, but I think the relevant section is chap. 1 of the Prolegomena, Proposition 24, §§ 75–77.

The Alexandrian Canon idea was well accepted at the time of Sundberg's dissertation, and his work has proved to be a powerful influence against the hypothesis. A representative of the idea before Sundberg is Robert Henry Pfeiffer, one of Sundberg's teachers at Harvard whom Sundberg critiques throughout the monograph, especially at the beginning. (See Pfeiffer's Introduction to the OT, pp. 65–70.) Sundberg wanted to make the idea look like it had been around and widely accepted for a couple of centuries; apparently he exaggerated a bit. In a recent article (in this reference work, 2013) by Stephen Chapman we read in a note:
On the basis of the present study, it would seem that Sundberg, Canon (1964), misreads the history of scholarship when he characterizes the Alexandrian canon hypothesis as an unquestioned assumption prior to his own work in abolishing it. In fact, the hypothesis appears to have been widely known but largely unpersuasive throughout the nineteenth century. (685n118)
One final note about the Alexandrian Canon: it seems that the theory is making a comeback. While scholars largely abandoned the idea in the wake of Sundberg's monograph, several recent studies have sought to affirm it in some modified form. In a recent article (in this collection, 2014), Armin Lange, while arguing against the Alexandrian Canon idea, cites several recent scholars as favoring it (661–62): Hanhart (in the introduction to Hengel), Guillaume (pp. 26–31), Fabry (his contributions here and here). Most recently, Jan Joosten has come out in favor of it (article here, published here). 

I might comment on these recent defenses of the idea sometime in the future. 

Incidentally, the opposite position is also known in scholarship, such that the Alexandrian Jews did not have a bigger canon than the Palestinian Jews but rather a smaller canon, the Torah alone; see Carr (here, p. 35), Aejmelaeus (here). 

UPDATE: I see now that Chapman's characterization of Sundberg is unfair, since Sundberg does in fact recognize that throughout the nineteenth century the idea of an Alexandrian Jewish canon was not widely accepted in scholarship. See especially ch. 3 of his monograph, pp. 25–40. Sundberg shows that the Alexandrian Canon hypothesis could not prove persuasive as long as it was still generally believed that the Men of the Great Synagogue had settled the canon during the days of Ezra, a theory first formulated by Elias Levita in 1538 (e.g., p. 120; and see Ryle, excursus A). This idea was mortally wounded only in 1876 by Abraham Kuenen (see here for the reference). "The way was now open for the general acceptance of Semler's hypothesis of an Alexandrian canon that included the books of the Apocrypha as the Old Testament canon adopted by the Christian church" (Sundberg, p. 39). So, I think even in Sundberg's telling, the Alexandrian Canon hypothesis was popular for only about 60-70 years. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Esdras in the Latin Bible

Just like the Book of Baruch, the role of Esdras in ancient manuscripts and authors can be confusing, though for different reasons. There are 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 different books of Esdras, and sometimes they switch the numbers around, so that what one author calls 1Esdras will not necessarily correspond to what someone else calls 1Esdras. This confusion doesn't really affect Hebrew sources--where we are dealing with the book of Ezra, in any case--because we have extant in Hebrew only the single book of Ezra that is found in the Jewish Bible. The only possible confusion here is whether Nehemiah is included with Ezra, as it is in the Masoretic Text, so that Ezra-Nehemiah forms one book (one set of Masoretic notes for both books).

But Greek and especially Latin sources can be mighty confusing when Esdras is mentioned. Fortunately, again, Pierre-Maurice Bogaert has written an article that sorts out some of the confusion: "Les livres d'Esdras et leur numérotation dans l'histoire du canon de la Bible latine," Revue bénédictine 110 (2000): 5–26. This post will summarize Bogaert's article.

The Paris Bible (13th cent.) usually contained four books of Esdras:
  • 1Esdras = canonical Ezra (in the Jewish canon, 10 chapters)
  • 2Esdras = canonical Nehemiah (in the Jewish canon, 13 chapters)
  • 3Esdras = Esdras A of the LXX (usually now called 1Esdras by scholars)
  • 4Esdras = Apocalypse of Ezra (16 chapters, thus including what scholars now call 4Ezra, 5Ezra, 6Ezra, all sometimes called 2Esdras by Anglophone scholars)
The Sixto-Clementine Bible (1592) maintained these four books, even though the Council of Trent had declared only the first two of them to be canonical.

The text known in the LXX as Esdras A (which I will call 1Esdras from now on) is very closely related to canonical Ezra. Wikipedia has a helpful table showing the similarities. The main difference is that 1Esdras has an extra story, the 'Story of the Three Youths'. 

Donatien De Bruyne argued (p. xl n. 1) in 1932 that the Latin tradition knew only 1Esdras and Nehemiah, until Jerome translated Ezra-Nehemiah at the end of the fourth century. Three decades later Thomas Denter in his dissertation confirmed the total absence of Latin citations from canonical Ezra. But Bogaert points out that the main contention (no VL Ezra-Nehemiah) is wrong because we have a manuscript of the text, the ms. Vercelli from eleventh-century northern Italy (still unpublished; see below).

La nomenclature

The Hebrew Bible contains one book of Ezra (= Ezra-Nehemiah). The Greek Bible contains two books, Esdras A (i.e., 1Esdras) and Esdras B (= a literal Greek translation of Ezra-Nehemiah). The Latin Bible has four books of Esdras, as explained above for the Paris Bibles. 

L'unique livre d'Esdras-Néhémie

Here Bogaert stresses that Ezra-Nehemiah counts as one book in Hebrew and Greek. He asserts that the first time Ezra-Nehemiah was divided in a Hebrew Bible was in the First Rabbinic Bible edited by Felix Pratensis and published by Bomberg in 1516–17. The LXX has a single book in 23 chapters, though some later manuscripts do signal a new book with Nehemiah (citing Hanhart, pp. 144, 249). Same goes for the Latin. Jerome insists in his preface that he is translating only a single book that he finds in Hebrew, and no ancient Vulgate manuscript divides Nehemiah from Ezra (see the Roman edition, pp. 76–77). Further arguments support this notion. 

Esdras-Néhémie divisé en deux livres

The division of Ezra-Nehemiah into two books seems to have happened first in the Latin tradition in the 8th century (Cologne manuscript) and became popular first in Spain, then gradually spread geographically. These two books were first called 1Esdras and 2Esdras, which makes little sense because Ezra is almost wholly absent from 2Esdras. To explain the popularity of this move, Bogaert appeals to a 'motivation canonique', since the earlier lists often mention two books of Esdras. 

Deux livres d'Esdras dans les listes anciennes des livres canoniques

Ancient Latin lists frequently mention two books of Esdras: Breviarium Hipponense, Augustine, Pope Innocent, Decretum Gelasianum, etc. They must mean 1Esdras (= Esdras A of the LXX and VL) and Ezra-Nehemiah (= Esdras B of the LXX and VL), rather than Ezra and Nehemiah in Jerome's translation, because Jerome's version is explicitly and deliberately presented as a single book (thus matching the Hebraica veritas) and Jerome's version hadn't had time to circulate so widely anyway. But once Jerome's version became dominant, these lists mentioning two books of Esdras probably served as the motivation to divide Jerome's translation into two and name them 1Esdras and 2Esdras, so that the Bible would agree with the lists. 

Omission d'Esdras dans les listes

Several ancient lists completely omit reference to Esdras (perhaps accidentally): Mommsen catalogue from 359 CE; some liturgical material; some manuscripts of the Decretum Gelasianum

Esdras plutôt que Néhémie

Lucifer of Cagliari (De non parcendo 14) and Quodvultdeus (Liber Promissionum II, xxxvii) both attribute to Esdras words or an attitude of Nehemiah, showing once again that Ezra-Nehemiah was perceived as a single book. 

Le Troisième d'Esdras chez Amroise

Ambrose (De Spiritu Sancto 2.6) cites 4Ezra 6:41 as coming from the third book of Esdras. He must mean that his first book of Esdras is 1Esdras, and his second book is Ezra-Nehemiah, so what we think of as 4Ezra becomes for him 3Esdras. 

Le Prologue de Jérôme à sa nouvelle traduction d'Esdras

Jerome says in the prologue to his translation of Ezra-Nehemiah that it shouldn't surprise anyone that this is a single book, and that the third and fourth books of Ezra are just apocrypha that don't exist among the Hebrews and should be rejected. Bogaert thinks Jerome's third book of Ezra would be the same as Ambrose's, that is, our 4Ezra. But what about Jerome's fourth book of Ezra. Bogaert: "As for the fourth book of Ezra according to Jerome, one can only take guesses. One could see 5Ezra or 6Ezra. I prefer the hypothesis according to which it is both (5Ezra and 6Ezra), for in one part of the tradition of 4Ezra they follow the Jewish apocalypse (= 4Ezra 3–14) and they are not distinguished (chap. 15–16 + 1+2)" (p. 16). Bogaert cites (16n38) some manuscripts of 4Ezra that attest this procedure. If this argument is accepted--and Jerome's assertion that Ezra-Nehemiah form only one book in Hebrew makes it a pretty strong argument--then the two other books of Ezra, Jerome's 1Ezra and 2Ezra, will not be Ezra and Nehemiah (which would both count only as 1Ezra) but rather Ezra-Nehemiah and our 1Esdras. Jerome does in fact cite 1Esdras 5:64–65 in his Comm. Ezech. (Bogaert cites CCSL 75, p. 551). Bogaert also points out (16n39) that in the Prologus Galeatus Jerome mentions that Ezra is divided into two books among Greeks and Latins. So, Bogaert thinks that Jerome regards 1Esdras as some sort of corrupted form of Ezra-Nehemiah. 

Esdras-Néhémie dans le manuscrit de Verceil

Old Latin Manuscript XXII (76) of the Archivio Capitolare of Vercelli. Eleventh century. 1Esdras precedes Ezra-Nehemiah. Nehemiah is not distinguished at all from Ezra. There is a textual inversion that Bogaert discusses. 

La version latine du Vercellensis et son modèle grec

The first Latin translation of 1Esdras is ancient and from Africa. Latin Fathers cite rarely the Nehemiah section of Ezra-Nehemiah. They almost always prefer 1Esdras to Ezra-Nehemiah in their citations. But the Vercelli manuscript proves the existence of an Old Latin Ezra-Nehemiah. Bogaert argues against De Bruyne and especially Denter. 

La numérotation des livres d'Esdras au moyen âge

Bogaert presents a chart of the different books of Esdras and which number was assigned to them in the different editions and manuscripts. 

Conclusion et bilan

Mostly a summary of the article. 

Appendice: le Prologue de Jérôme à Esdras en français

Bogaert closes with a French translation of Jerome's preface to Ezra, along with some notes.