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Archive for July, 2006

Biblical Studies Carnival VIII Online at biblicalia

31st July 2006

I am happy to announce that Biblical Studies Carnival VIII is online at Kevin Edgecomb’s Biblicalia. Kevin has done an awesome job (or should I say “an august job”?) with the Carnival — I don’t even think he had to make any entries up! In my time zone the carnival is even early! Kudos, Kevin.

Biblical Studies Carnival IX will be hosted by Stephen Carlson over at Hypotyposeis in the first week of September 2006. Look for a call for submissions on his blog sometime in the middle of the month.

As you are reading posts around the blogosphere this month, make sure to nominate appropriate posts for the next Carnival. You can submit/nominate posts via the submission form at BlogCarnival.com or you may email them to biblical_studies_carnival AT hotmail DOT com.

For more information, consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.


Posted in Biblical Studies Carnival | 1 Comment »

Bestest Movie Ever Made! (The Truth Behind Review Blurbs)

31st July 2006

Gelf Magazine has an interesting article on the truth behind movie review blurbs — you know, when a critic is quoted as saying that “this film is the best family movie of this summer — a must see” when in reality they said “this film is really bad, it ranks nowhere close to X, which is the best family movie of this summer; if you must see it, make sure to buy lots of popcorn!”

Anyhow… the article is called “The Funniest Movie You’ll See This Fiscal Quarter” and it is worth a gander. My favourites were from the reviews of My Super Ex-Girlfriend.


Posted in Film, Humour | Comments Off

50 Films to See Before You Die

30th July 2006

The Sunday Mail from the UK has published a list of “50 Films to See Before You Die.” The list was compiled by David Puttnam (producer of Chariots of Fire and Midnight Express) and others to mark digital channel Film4 going free-to-air.

The list has many of the films that you typically find on such lists, but it also has quite a few that typically don’t. There are some huge gaps as well. There is no overlap with my “Essential Films for Theologians: The ‘Director’s Cut’â€? so the list is clearly flawed! (see also my Essential Films of 2005 for Theologians – Extended Edition)

I have seen over half of the films, so I guess I have a bit of work to do before I die. (I have marked the films I have seen with an “x”)

  1. Apocalypse Now (x)
  2. The Apartment
  3. City of God (x)
  4. Chinatown (x)
  5. Sexy Beast (x)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (x)
  7. North by Northwest
  8. A Bout de Souffle (Breathless)
  9. Donnie Darko (x)
  10. Manhattan
  11. Alien (x)
  12. Lost in Translation (x)
  13. The Shawshank Redemption (x)
  14. Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India
  15. Pulp Fiction (x)
  16. Touch of Evil
  17. Walkabout
  18. Black Narcissus
  19. Boyz’n the Hood (x)
  20. The Player (x)
  21. Come and See
  22. Heavenly Creatures (x)
  23. A Night at the Opera
  24. Erin Brockovich (x)
  25. Trainspotting (x)
  26. The Breakfast Club (x)
  27. Hero (x)
  28. Fanny and Alexander
  29. Pink Flamingos
  30. All About Eve
  31. Scarface (x)
  32. Terminator 2 (x)
  33. Three Colours: Blue (x)
  34. The Royal Tenen-baums (x)
  35. The Ladykillers (x)
  36. Fight Club (x)
  37. The Searchers
  38. Mulholland Drive (x)
  39. The Ipcress File
  40. The King of Comedy
  41. Manhunter (x)
  42. Dawn of the Dead (x)
  43. Princess Mononoke
  44. Raising Arizona (x)
  45. Cabaret
  46. This Sporting Life
  47. Brazil (x)
  48. Aguirre: The Wrath of God
  49. Secrets and Lies (x)
  50. Badlands (x)

(HT Arts and Faith)


Posted in Film, Popular Culture | 4 Comments »

The Practice of Textual Criticism (TCHB 8)

30th July 2006

With some of the theory surrounding textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible behind us, with this post I am going to discuss how to actually go about text criticism.

This is the eighth post in a series on the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Other posts include:

All posts in this series may be viewed here.

More specifically, in this post I will discuss how to identify and evaluate variants for the reconstruction of this Ur-edition. In the practice of textual criticism, critics traditionally distinguish between external criticism (i.e., the evaluation of the textual witnesses), and internal criticism (i.e., the transcriptional and intrinsic probability of the readings). For the former, critics need to know the textual witnesses and their history; for the latter, they need to be aware of the kinds of errors scribes made and have sensitivity to the context and inner clarity of the text itself.

The Preliminary Task: Collect the Variants

Before the variants can be evaluated, they need to be collected. They should be first collected from the textual witnesses and then compared with the MT, more specifically with the Leningrad Codex (L) as found in BHS. Even if you do not know Hebrew, you can identify the most significant variants in the text notes to most modern English translations (e.g., NIV, NRSV) and may even be able to detect others in differences between the English versions. For instance, Psalm 19:4 [19:5 in BHS] in the NIV reads “Their voiceb goes out into all the earth.” The superscript “b” leads the reader to the footnote, which reads: “b4″ Septuagint, Jerome and Syriac; Hebrew line.” By this note the translators are informing the reader that the variant reading of the text, “voice,” (which they used in the translation) is found in the Septuagint, Jerome’s Juxta Hebraica, and the Syriac Peshitta; while the MT variant is “line.”

As far as what English translations to use, the best translations, from the standpoint of OT textual criticism are: NRSV, NIV, TEV, NASB, NEB, and NJB. All of these translations carefully considered the available evidence when making their textual decisions (in addition, the NJPS will provide a good translation of the MT). Exegetes should avoid using paraphrases like the Living Bible, as it is primarily based on other English translations, as well as old translations such as the KJV, which is about four centuries out of date when it comes to text critical matters.

Exegetes using BHS (or BHQ) will find significant variants in its apparatus. Unfortunately, the apparatus is not the easiest to decipher. In this regard you may want to get yourself a copy of one of these two guides to BHS:

  • William R. Scott, A Simplified Guide to BHS: Critical Apparatus, Masora, Accents, Unusual Letters & Other Markings (3rd ed.; Bibal Press, 1995). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com
  • Reinhard Wonneberger, Understanding BHS: A Manual for the Users of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (2nd. revised ed.; trans. D. R. Daniels; Pontifical Institute, 1990). Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com

Since the apparatus of BHS, however, contains errors of commissions and omissions with respect to the Versions and the DSS, the advanced exegete will appeal to the critical editions of the ancient Versions and to the DSS themselves (see my posts on the Versions and DSS for more information on critical editions).

Another great resource that I will be posting on in the near future is the massive multi-volume Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament edited by Dominique Barthélemy. This is a truly massive undertaking that collates, discusses, and evaluates all of the variants in the Hebrew Bible.

External Criticism: The Evaluation of Textual Witnesses

As noted above, external criticism involves an examination of the textual witness themselves. This primarily entails evaluating the variant in relation to the “original edition” of the MT.

1. Evaluate Relationship to “Original Edition”
“True” variants are restricted to those that arose in the transmission of the “original edition” behind the MT. Before selecting any variant for further evaluation, the critic needs first to determine whether or not it is the product of a tendency within one of the primary text types (e.g., MT, LXX, SP, and unaligned). For example, on the one hand, the shorter variants of Jeremiah should be passed over if they belong to the text’s earlier literary development. On the other hand, the longer variants in the Torah of the pre-Samaritan text, such as an interpolation of Deuteronomy into Exodus, should also be passed-by because they represent a later stage of the text than the “original edition.” When the critic has excluded variants that stand apart from that Ur-edition, he or she will then proceed to evaluate the variant by internal criticism. But before turning to internal criticism, we need to rule out the traditional approach to external criticism.

2. Reject Traditional External Criticism
Sometimes text critics evaluate variants on the basis of the textual witness in which it is found. Some critics prefer a variant in the MT over the SP, or a variant in the LXX over the Tgs., because normally the MT and the LXX are superior to the other two. For example, E. Würthwein notes: “The various witnesses to the text should be examined, beginning with MT, and continuing with the rest in roughly the order of their significance for textual criticism, e.g., SP, LXX, Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targums, ….” (The Text of the Old Testament, 112). Then too, some think that a variant in an early text has a prior claim over a variant in a later one, or that a variant in the majority of texts should be preferred.

Such external criteria should be ruled out, however, for four reasons. First, the fact that early corruptions obviously affected all our witnesses, requiring conjectural emendations, shows that one bad “gene” early on could have corrupted numbers of MSS. Second, the Qumran scrolls show an intricate web of relationships, so that one cannot predict a corruption in any given MS. Third, scribes tend to commit the same sort of errors, and therefore the same error could have arisen independently in several sources. Finally, the simple fact is that the Qumran scrolls, though a millennium earlier, do not normally contain better variants than the MT because the scribes in the later tradition tried harder to preserve the original than those at Qumran.

In sum, because we do not know the genetic relationship of any MS to the original edition, in principle a variant in the MT and/or in many witnesses has no prior claim as the better variant; and a variant in an otherwise poor witness, or in only a few, cannot be ruled out.

Internal Criticism: Transcriptional and Intrinsic Probability

Having decided that a variant may stem from the original text, the critic should not evaluate it further on the basis of the textual witness but on its own merits. There are two facets to internal criticism: transcription probability and intrinsic probability.

The task of evaluating a reading on its intrinsic and transcriptional probabilities is both an objective science and a subjective art. The basic rule of thumb is: “that reading is preferable which would have been more likely to give rise to the other”; or, turning that around, “the variant that cannot be explained away is more probably the original.” To explain away a variant, however, demands a firm grasp on the manuscripts, scribal practices, and a lot of exegetical knowledge and of common sense (this is why I believe while many aspire to be textual critics, few can gain enough mastery to actually do it well). Unfortunately, there are no simple rules. Some have likened textual criticism to a dog catching flees. As a dog catches flees not by following rules but by treating each flee individually, so also the text critic must address each variant individually, deftly, and reasonably.

1. Intrinsic Probability
Evaluating a textual variant according to its intrinsic probability involves taking the author’s style and the immediate context into consideration. Inasmuch as the inner clarity of the passage itself is the standard for evaluation, this is a subjective enterprise. It is sometimes difficult to determine what the author’s style or particular vocabulary is, as well as what fits the immediate context best. Nevertheless, while difficult, this is one of the major procedures of OT textual criticism.

2. Transcriptional Probability
Here the text critic needs to keep in mind the kinds of errors scribes committed either unintentionally or intentionally during the transmission of the text.

Unintentional Errors. Within the restraints of this post, I am only able to mention the most common types of unintentional scribal errors.

a. Confusion of similar consonants. Sometimes scribes confuse consonants that are similarly formed, depending on the script, or similarly sounded, such as the gutturals. For example, ד (d) and ר (r) are readily confused both in the Hebrew angular and square script. This is apparently what happened with the name of one of Javan’s sons. Sometimes he is called דדני×? (ddnym), “Dodanim” (Gen 10:4, MT), and other times רדני×? (rdnym), “Rodanim” (1 Chr 1:7, MT; Gen 10:4, SP, LXX). Other consonants that often are confused in the square script are: ב / ×›, ב/ מ, ב / × , ×’ / ו, ×’ / ×™, ×” / ×—, ו / ×–, ו / ר, ×› / × , מ / ס, and ×¢ / צ.

b. Haplography (“writing once”). Due to homoioteleuton, words with similar endings, or, homoiarcton, words with similar beginnings, sometimes a letter or group of letters accidentally drops out of the text. Compare the following readings of Gen 47:16:

  • MT: ו×?תנה לכ×? במקניכ×?
    I will give you for your cattle (cf. KJV)
  • SP, LXX: ו×?תנה לכ×? לח×? במקניכ×?
    I will sell you food… for your livestock (cf. NIV, NRSV)

“Food,” לח×? (lhm), comes after the similarly sounding and appearing “you,” לכ×? (lkm). The scribe likely skipped over “food” when copying the text. Another example comes from Judges 20:13 where the MT refers to the tribe of Benjamin as only בנימן  “Benjamin” instead of the expected בני בנימן  “sons of Benjamin.” The LXX reads “sons of Benjamin” and the Masoretes evidently thought that a scribe must have skipped over בני “sons of”, since they included the vowel pointing for בני even though the consonants are lacking.

c. Dittography (“writing twice”). Sometimes scribes accidentally repeated letters, a word or a phrase. For example, Isa 30:30 in the MT, LXX, Tgs., Syr., and Vulg. all read: הש×?מיע יהוה  “The Lord shall make heard,” while 1QIsa reads: הש×?מיע הש×?מיע יהוה  “The Lord shall make heard, shall make heard.” Apparently the scribe inadvertently repeated הש×?מיע “make heard.”

d. Doublets. This is the conflation of two or more readings, either consciously or unconsciously. For example, the LXX and 1QIsaa of Isa 37:9 conflate the accounts of Hezekiah’s consultation of Isaiah in the MT of Isa 37:9 and 2 Kgs 19:9. Compare the following:

  • MT : ויש×?ב ויש×?לח מל×?×›×™×?
    he again sent messengers (2 Kgs 19:9)
  • MT : ויש×?מע ויש×?לח מל×?×›×™×?
    and when he heard it, he sent messengers (Isa 37:9)
  • LXX, 1QIsa: ויש×?מע ויש×?ב ויש×?לח מל×?×›×™×?
    and when he heard it, he again sent messengers (Isa 37:9)

e. Metathesis. This is the accidental exchange or transposition of two adjacent letters within a word. For instance, Deut 31:1 reads:

  • MT : וילך מש×?×” וידבר ×?ת־הדברי×? ×”×?לה
    And Moses went [vylk] and spoke these words (cf. NIV)
  • 4QDeut, LXX : ויכל מש×?×” וידבר ×?ת־הדברי×? ×”×?לה
    And Moses finished [vykl] speaking these words (cf. NRSV).

The scribe evidently miscopied and reversed the order of ל (l) and כ (k) . The NRSV follows the reading in 4QDeut and the LXX, while the NIV opted for the MT.

f. Different concepts of word and verse divisions. Sometimes scribes, for unknown reasons, divided words and verses differently. For example, a scribe evidently divided the words in Hos 6:5 incorrectly:

  • MT : ומש×?פטיך ×?ור יצ×?
    And your judgments, light goes forth (cf. NASB, KJV).
  • LXX : καὶ τὸ κÏ?ίμα μου ὡς φῶς á¼?ξελεÏ?σεται
    = ומש×?פטי ×›×?ור יצ×?
    And my judgment goes forth as light (cf. NIV, NRSV).

The copyist of the MT evidently attached the ×› (k), of ×›×?ור (k’vr), “as light,” to the preceding word. Compare the following variants in Ps 102:[101 LXX]:24-25a involving different vocalization and misdivision of the verses:

  • MT : עִנָּה בדבך כחו קצר ימי ×?מר ×?לי (The Qere reads ×›×—×™ “my strength”)
    He broke my strength on the way, he cut short my days. 25 I said, “My God….”
  • LXX : ἀπεκÏ?ίθη αá½?Ï„á¿· á¼?ν á½?δῷ ἰσχÏ?ος αá½?τοῦ Τὴν ὀλιγότητα τῶν ἡμεÏ?ῶν μου ἀνάγγειλόν μοι
    = עָנָהוּ בדרך כחו ימי ×?מר ×?לי
    He answered him in the way of his strength: The fewness of my days report to me.

The LXX is different from the MT in reading ×¢× ×” (‘nh), as (Qal) “to answer,” rather than (Piel) “to humble”; taking בדרך כחו (bdrk khv), as a construct; and besides other vocalization changes, it also does not divide the verse in the same place.

Intentional Errors. Sometimes the scribes took liberty to change the text deliberately. Four different types of intentional changes can be noted.

a. Linguistic changes. Scribes often modernized archaic features of a verse, primarily in relation to spelling and grammar. For example, the SP replaces the old infinitive absolute construction of the MT with an imperative or finite verb form. In Num 15:35, the MT reads רָגוֹ×? (ragom), but the SP reads רִגמוּ (rigmu).

b. Contextual changes. Sometimes scribes change the text in order to harmonize certain passages. For instance, in Genesis 2:2, according to the MT, the Tgs., and the Vg, God completed his work on the seventh day, but according to the SP, LXX, and Syr (perhaps independently of each other), he completed it on the sixth day. The scribe(s) evidently changed the text to avoid the possible inference that God worked on the Sabbath.

c. Euphemistic changes. Sometimes scribes changed the text for euphemistic reasons. In Gen 50:23 the SP changes the phrase על־ברכי יוסף (‘l-brky yvsp), “upon the knees of Joseph” into על־נימי יוסף (‘l-bymy yvsp), “in the days of Joseph” because it seemed improper that Joseph’s grandchildren should be born upon his knees. In Deut 25:11 בִּמְבֻש×?ָֽיו (bmbshyv), “his private parts” is changed to בִּבְשָׂרוֹ (bbsrv), “his flesh,” because it seemed too obscene to mention that in a fight a woman would grab a man’s genitals. Similarly, in Deut 28:30 ש×?גל (shgl), “rape, have sex (?)” was deemed way too obscene for public use and so it was changed to ש×?כב (shkb), “sleep,” in both the SP and the MT-Qere. (Perhaps the equivalent of the ancient Hebrew f-word!).

d. Theological changes. We noted above how the Samaritans altered the pre-Samaritan text to defend Mount Gerizim as God’s place of worship. Theological changes also occur in the MT. Compare the following renditions of Prov 14:32:

  • MT: וחסד במותו צדיק
    But a righteous man in his death finds a refuge (cf. NIV).
  • LXX: á½? δὲ πεποιθὼς τῇ ἑαυτοῦ á½?σιότητι δίκαιος
    = וחסד בתומו צידק
    But the righteous man in his integrity finds a refuge (cf. NRSV).

The change from בתומו (btvmv), “integrity” in the LXX to במותו (bmvtv), “death” in the MT could be a case of simple transposition of מ (b) and ת (t). But some scholars think the change in the MT was intentional and reflects an anti-Sadducean point of view. Better known are the changes of early names with the theophoric element בעל (b’l), “Baal,” by the derogatory element בש×?ת (bsht), “shame.” For example, Esh-Baal (“man of Baal”), the name of Saul’s fourth son, in 1 Chr 8:33 is changed to Ish-Bosheth (“man of shame”) in 2 Sam 2:8.

On the whole, however, theological changes are rare in the MT. G. R. Driver notes: “Theological glosses [in our terminology, interpolations] are surprisingly few, and most are enshrined in the tiqqune sopherim [scribal changes], which are corrections of the text aimed chiefly at softening anthropomorphisms and eliminating the attribution of any sort of impropriety to God.”

Emendations

Sometimes none of the transmitted variants satisfy exegetical expectations. In cases where all witnesses seem “hopelessly corrupt” the text critic may find emendation (a conjectured variant based on the known variants) necessary. Qumran scrolls have now validated this procedure in some cases. F. M. Cross comments: “No headier feeling can be experienced by a humanistic scholar, perhaps, than that which comes when an original reading, won by his brilliant emendation, is subsequently confirmed in a newly-found MS.”

Emendations must satisfy the same criteria by which known variants are evaluated. That is, they must be plausible. There are many emendations proposed where it is very difficult to see how the purported error took place. That being said, there are a number of places where emendation appears to be the best alternative. For example, there seems to have been a confusion of consonants in the angular script in Ezek 3:12.

  • All texts; ברוך כבוד־יהוה ממקומו
    May the glory of YHWH be praised in his dwelling place (cf. NIV).
  • Emendation: ברו×? כבוד־יהוה ממקומו
    As the glory of YHWH arose from its place (cf. NRSV).

The NIV’s “be praised” is based on ברוך (brvk), “be praised,” which is attested in all textual witnesses. The clause, however, is unique, awkward and contextless. Scholars salvage the line by emending ברוך (brvk) to ברו×? (brvm), “when [it] arose.” In the angular script ך (k) and ×? (m) are easily confounded. This emendation nicely satisfies exegetical expectations, Hebrew syntax, and the context of the verse (cf. Ezek 10:4, 15-18).

In sum, McCarter wisely counsels that a text critic should keep the image of a scribe clearly in mind, look first for conscious errors, know the personalities of your witnesses, treat each case as if it were unique, and beware of prejudices


Posted in Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, Series, Syriac Peshitta, Text Criticism, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible | 2 Comments »

BAR Article on Hanan Eshel

28th July 2006

Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Hanan Eshel is back in the news — well kind of. There is an online article about Hanan Eshel on the Biblical Archaeology Society Webstie that deals with some of the controversy surrounding his purchase of some fragments of a Leviticus Scroll.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

At the behest of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), a leading Dead Sea Scroll scholar was arrested last year for purchasing four Dead Sea Scroll fragments from Bedouin who claimed to have found them in the Judean Desert. Hanan Eshel of Bar-Ilan University in Israel promptly published the fragments (of the Biblical book of Leviticus) and donated them to the state (the purchase funds had been provided by his university).In an ad in the leading Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, 59 prominent scholars from around the world protested his arrest, calling the IAA’s action a “vengeful” act. The ad had no effect, however. The case is still under investigation by the police.

Bar-Ilan president Moshe Kaveh called the IAA action a “scandal.” The university stands “fully behind” Eshel.

So why was Hanan Eshel arrested?

Many believe that Eshel is, in the IAA’s view, on the wrong side of an issue that has divided the profession: Should unprovenanced materials, which are often looted, be studied and published by scholars?

One clear consequence of Hanan Eshel’s arrest: No new Dead Sea Scroll fragments will turn up in Israel again, thanks to the IAA. The looters, the smugglers, the underground dealers know that they cannot now find a buyer among or through Israeli scholars. Like Eshel, anyone who makes a purchase will be arrested. Much easier and safer simply to spirit any scrolls out of the country.

Although not widely known, numerous Dead Sea Scroll fragments are in private collections all over the world. The Eshels detect a “trend among collectors and antiquity dealers (perhaps due to economic factors) to share privately held fragments with the scholarly world.” In the opinion of the Eshels, “Qumran scholars should be encouraged to make an effort to publish these fragments, which provide a more complete picture of the Qumran corpus.”

Encouraging the publication of unprovenanced finds—that may well be Hanan Eshel’s real crime.

While I am against looting (what scholar would not be against it?), I tend to side with Eshel and the author of this article on this issue. I think it is far better to publish these finds even if we can’t be sure of their provenance. In addition, (as the full article notes) sometimes by studying these artefacts their provenance can be determined with some certainty.

I have posted quite a bit on the Leviticus Scroll fragments and their discovery, including a step-by-step reconstruction of the scroll and an interview with Hanan Eshel. All of my posts on this subject may be found here. In addition, I have brought together my posts and pictures of the fragments — including some new hi-resolution pictures –at my Resources Relating to the Dead Sea Scrolls pages.

(HT to Jim West)


Posted in Archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, Hanan Eshel, Leviticus, Leviticus Scroll, Manuscript, News | Comments Off

Medieval Psalms Codex Clarification

28th July 2006

There has been a clarification in connection to the Psalm book discovered in the Irish bog. Initial news reports said that the book was open to Psalm 83, which in most modern English translations is a prayer to wipe out the enemies of Israel. What no one noted is that they meant Psalm 83 in the Latin Vulgate, and the Latin Vulgate (like the Greek Septuagint it follows) is usually one chapter off of the Hebrew MT tradition and our modern English translations. So as it turns out — much to the dismay of all of those who interpreted this as some sort of sign from God — the book from the bog is open to Psalm 84 according to our modern translations.

Here is an excerpt from the recent Reuters story that announces the clarification:

The National Museum of Ireland announced Tuesday what it said was one of the most significant Irish discoveries in decades; an ancient Psalter or Book of Psalms, written around 800 AD. It said part of Psalm 83 was legible.

In modern versions of the Bible, Psalm 83 is a lament to God over other nations’ attempts to wipe out Israel and many commentators wondered at the coincidence of such a discovery at a time of heightened tension in the Middle East.

“The above mention of Psalm 83 has led to misconceptions about the revealed wording and may be a source of concern for people who believe Psalm 83 deals with ‘the wiping out of Israel’,” the museum said in its clarification.

The confusion arose because the manuscript uses an old Latin translation of the Bible known at the Vulgate, which numbers the psalms differently from the later King James version, the 1611 English translation from which many modern texts derive.

The difference in numbering is due to different ancient traditions of dividing individual psalms, especially for psalms without superscriptions. For example, Psalms 9 and 10 in the Hebrew MT tradition (which most modern English translations follow for psalm numbers) are combined in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate to form their Psalm 9. This combination is facilitated because MT Psalm 10 does not have a superscription. In fact, many scholars believe that the LXX tradition here is more authentic since when combined MT Psalm 9 and 10 share an acrostic pattern (the verses are in alphabetical sequence).

Here is a table showing all of the differences in psalm divisions between the two major traditions:

PsalmChapters.jpg

I wonder what speculation Psalm 84 will give rise to!

(Thanks to Jeremy for the heads up in a comment on my original post)


Posted in Bible, Discoveries, Manuscript, Psalms | 4 Comments »

Peshitta in the News

27th July 2006

It must be a slow news day if the Peshitta makes the headlines!

The CBS11 News webpage has an article on the Peshitta, the ancient Syriac translation of the Bible (see my post on the Early Versions of the Hebrew Bible). The news article presents the views of a Dr. Rocco Errico who appears to hold the view that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Aramaic-English Bible Translation Draws Criticism

Maria Arita
When asked why Errico would translate the bible from Aramaic to English instead of Greek or Hebrew, he said, “Neither Jesus, nor his immediate disciples, who were illiterate fishermen, nor his Galilean Followers, knew or spoke Greek. [Aramaic] was the language of Jesus and there are 12,000 differences [by translating from Greek and Hebrew].”

One example of these misinterpretations would be The Lord’s Prayer in the KJV, which reads “lead us not into temptation,� Enrrico points out.

Translated from the Aramaic, this reads very differently as, “do not let us enter into temptation.” The difference, says Errico, is that God does not “lead us into temptationâ€? but that one could ask for his guidance not to “enterâ€? into temptation.

Errico disputes this [the view that the apostles wrote in Greek] saying why would they translate from Greek when they had Aramaic and why did the New Testament include many Aramaic phraseology if the apostles weren’t speaking (and writing) in their native tongue?

This article appears to be a platform for Errico to promulgate the views of the Noohra Foundation, an organization which he founded. It is not clear from his bio whether or not Errico has any earned advanced degrees, but his views are not held by any Aramaic or Syriac scholar I am aware of. The huge majority of scholars hold that the New Testament was originally written in Greek (there are some who think that the Gospel of Matthew was perhaps written in Hebrew, though they are also a minority). While the origins of the Peshitta NT are obscure, most scholars see it as a 5th century CE revision of the Old Syriac text in order to bring it more in line with the Byzantine Greek New Testament.

The translation that the article is talking about is the English translation of the Peshitta by George Mamishisho Lamsa: The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts: Containing the Old and New Testaments Translated from the Peshitta, The Authorized Bible of the Church of the East (HarperCollins, 1990; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com). It is also available online here.
UPDATE: Targuman has noted a few other errors in the article; Paleojudaica has also just noted the article here.


Posted in News, Syriac Peshitta, Text Criticism | 1 Comment »

The One Book Meme

27th July 2006

Ben Myers over at Faith and Theology started this meme. I saw this last night, but didn’t have the energy to respond, but since I have now been tagged by Joe, I figure I should give it a go (hey.. that rhymed… I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!).

1. One book that changed your life:
The Bible (Really! I’m not being trite)

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

You can do that? Read a book more than once! Wow. (just joking!) The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Thomas Harris, I’m OK, You’re OK. OK, that was a joke. I would probably want the Bible — in the original languages.

4. One book that made you laugh:
Calvin and Hobbes, Far Side, Bloom County (I was at a friend’s cabin and then had a selection of comic books to peruse)

5. One book that made you cry:
Hmmm… I actually can’t think of any. Now, if you we were talking movies, then I would have to say Star Trek two. When Spock dies near the end I get teary eyed. “I have been… and always shall be… your friend.”

6. One book that you wish had been written:
I wish that Tolkien would have finished the Similarian himself.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

I don’t have any strong opinions here, so let’s say The Book of Jabez.

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Only one book… fine. How about The Bible after Babel by John J. Collins (of course, I could have said Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament by Dominique Barthélemy to impress you all with my keen intellect and language skills… but I am far too humble a person to do that.)

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Hmmm… I’m not sure. How about the nice copy of the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls that Jim West sent me?

10. Now tag five people:
Chip Hardy, Joey Walker, Kevin Wilson, Chris Brady, Talmida.


Posted in Meme, Personal | Comments Off

Bog of Psalms

26th July 2006

[See my clarification on this story here]

This story caught my eye last night: It looks like a medieval book of Psalms was discovered by a backhoe worker in Ireland. The 20-page vellum Latin manuscript has been dated to the 800-1000 CE by archaeologists. Ironically, the book was found open to Psalm 83, a psalm in which God hears complaints of other nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israel.

The discovery has been referred to as “Ireland’s Dead Sea Scroll” and has been hailed as “the greatest find from a European bog” (I wonder what is the second greatest find from a European bog?). The full AP story may be found here; here are some pictures (from AP) for your viewing enjoyment:

Ireland_Psalmbook1.jpg

Ireland_Psalmbook2.jpg

Posted in Archaeology, Discoveries, Psalms | 1 Comment »

Hello, My Name is Tyler, and I Love U2…

24th July 2006

Brandon Wason over at Novum Testamentum Blog likes Steely Dan, but I love U2. In my vehicle I only happen to have “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” (2000; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com) and I have been listening to it for days on end (hmmm… I guess I could always bring one or more of my other U2 CDs into the vehicle… but it is one of my favourites!).

My family, however, doesn’t seem to appreciate my music quite as much and suggested I log on to this website:

BonoFatigue.jpg

Bono Fatigue: A Place for Bono Vox Detox

From site host Andrew Billings:

This site is for U2 fans suffering from Bono Fatigue as a result of an over-consumption of U2 music, Bono interviews, Africa-related relief ideas etc. (BF can manifest in many ways. If you don’t have it, you’ll know it when you get it.) Since people at this site are recovering from BF, and are hoping to work through it and re-introduce U2 back to their lives, please do not post band photos, art or quotes unless absolutely necessary to your comment. Give others a chance to walk through this at their own pace. Thanks! Heal and enjoy.

My name is Tyler and I love U2… (the site is actually quite the hoot )


Posted in Humour, Personal, U2 | 1 Comment »