Sunday, February 20, 2011

Theories to account for
the textual diversity of the Hebrew Scriptures /

Θεωρίες που επεξηγούν
την κειμενική ποικιλότητα των Εβραϊκών Γραφών



Given this textual evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, how does one account for the variety of textual forms in which the Bible was undeniably extant in the late second temple period? Scholars have developed a number of theories to account for this diversity. The first of these is the so-called local texts theory, first proposed by William F. Albright, and subsequently elaborated by his student Frank M. Cross Jr. In Cross's view, the textual diversity found in the manuscripts can be correlated with the three major text-types that underlie the LXX, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the MT. Funhemore, these three textual traditions can also be roughly correlated with three geographical areas, Egypt, Palestine, and Babylon, respectively.

A different theory has been advocated by Shemaryahu Talmon, who looks upon Cross's three main text-types not as traditions that developed in different geogrnphical locales but as the remnants of a much greater textual diversity that is now lost to view. Talmon stresses the fact that text-types are created and preserved by religiously cohesive sociological groups: it was the Christian church that preserved the textual tradition represented by the LXX, the Samaritan sect that preserved the Samaritan text-type, and rabbinic Judaism that preserved the MT. It is probable that other textual traditions were preserved by other religious groups within Judaism, but these traditions have perished along with their historical bearers. The three that have survived are the leftovers of a textual diversity that was likely as varied as the religious landscape of Judaism and its offshoots. Another feature of Talman's view is his concern not to isolate textual criticism from the broader questions of traditional historical criticism.

Emanuel Tov challenges a key assumption in the theories of both Cross and Talmon: the view that the textual diversity of the Qumran finds can be reduced to basically three text-types. On the basis of a careful analysis of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls, he concludes that they can be more profitably classified into five categories, not three. Alongside the three recognized by Cross and Talmon, he discerns one written in the distinctive "Qumran orthography," and another that is "unaligned," that is, not clearly associated with any of the other four. In Tov's analysis, the statistical distribution of these five kinds of texts is as follows: "proto-Masoretic" manuscripts: 60 percent; those written in the "Qumran practice": 20 percent; "pre-Samaritan" manuscripts and those approximating the LXX: together 5 percent; leaving about 15 percent for the unaligned biblical texts.

Finally, we may consider the views of Eugene Ulrich, a student of Cross, who has recently put forward his own theory of the textual diversity exemplified by the Qumran biblical manuscripts. Against Tov, he argues that neither the "Qumran practice" nor the "unaligned" status of certain manuscripts can be said to define distinctively textual groupings. In a manner reminiscent of Talmon (but without the latter's emphasis on religious groups), he stresses that a simple threefold or fivefold scheme cannot do justice to the great diversity of the biblical text in late second temple times. Instead, he sees a succession of "literary editions" of individual books (or parts of books) as temporary stages of the overall evolution of the biblical text toward its canonical form. Each literary edition was produced by a creative editor who was responding to a new religious situation, and each such edition could be called the "base text" with respect to subsequent scribal modifications. Again like Talmon, Ulrich seeks to integrate the concerns of "lower" and "higher" criticism into a single view of the long-term development of the biblical text.


* David W. Baker & Bill T. Arnold,
[Η Όψη των Παλαιοδιαθηκικών Μελετών: Έρευνα των Τρεχουσών Προσεγγίσεων],
Baker Academic 1999,
pp./σσ. 21, 22.



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