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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible

My compatriot, Tyler Williams, of Edmonton, Alberta, started a series on Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible on Codex Blogspot in June. Here are the first five posts in the series and there are more to come. Post number 5 also assembles links to the previous posts. It is all well worth reading and is a great example of quality academic writing in a blog.

Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible - An Introduction (TCHB 1)

Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible Resources (TCHB 2)

Hebrew Witnesses to the Text of the Old Testament (TCHB 3)

Early Versions of the Hebrew Bible (TCHB 4)

Codex Sinaiticus: A Profile (TCHB 5)

My own interests have been shifting in the direction of the Old Testament recently. Last month a former acquaintance called me up and asked, you are interested in Bible translation, no? I assented cautiously. Last time I answered yes to a question about translation I ended up in a very awkward situation. It is better to demur when asked something like that!

However, he only wanted to give me The David Story by Robert Alter. Since then I have been reading through the Five Books of Moses by Alter as well and am enjoying it very much.

Here are a few of the internet resources which I have assembled to enrich the experience. They relate to Tyler's fourth post, Early Versions of the Hebrew Bible. This list is not exhaustive, or even discerning, it is just a little of this and that. If you wish to add any links to this list of resources for early versions of the OT please do. For those who would like instructions on how to post a link in the comment section, try this.

1. Septuagint

Greek Septuagint at Zhubert

New English Translation of the Septuagint

2. Aramaic Targums

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and Targum Onkelos in English

Aramaic English Standard Version

3. Syriac Peshitta

Lamsa Translation is available here

4. Latin Vulgate




Judaica Electronic Texts

Prague Bible with Commentary by Rashi

Summer reading anyone? Also, I appeal again to those who would like to see their blog featured here.


At Fri Jul 21, 08:43:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Fri Jul 21, 09:26:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, well, a translation into English of Rashi would be most helpful! But the manuscript is beautiful, isn't it?

At Fri Jul 21, 10:40:00 AM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I would recomment the Everett Fox translation of the Torah, as well as his Samuel.

there are at least two online English versions of Rashi:

>Also, I appeal again to those who would like to see their blog featured here.

If you click my profil you will see links to my three blogs. They are not Bible blogs, strictly speaking, but you might find something interesting at my blog English Hebraica. :)

At Fri Jul 21, 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Fred,

I looked at your wonderful Hebraica blog. I see we share an interest in alphabets.

I also have E. Fox here beside Alter. Fox is considered to be very correct, but listen to this difference.

Gen. 2:6


But a surge would well up from the ground and water all the face of the soil and YHWH, God, formed the human, of dust from the soil, and he blew into his nostrils the breath of life and the human became a living being.


And wetness would well up from the earth to water all the surface of the soil, and then the Lord God fashioned the human, humus from the soil and blew into his nostrils the breath of life.

I have a weakness for alliteration. Thanks for the additional references for Rashi.

At Fri Jul 21, 11:25:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

I am familiar with the Lamsa translation, and most famously with Bruce Metzger's comments on the Lamsa translation. I would be interested in what others think of some of his translation decisions and his text theory.

Now that I think of it, there are some websites and organizations that are promoting an Aramaic primacy over a Greek primacy (which most of us are familiar with), anyone such as Wayne, Lingamish, Suzanne know anything about this "movement"?

Always curious.

At Fri Jul 21, 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Suzanne, you're Abecedaria! Wow, I'm a fan! :) Not only that, you once helped me:

As for Fox versus Alter, in general I personally prefer Alter but I think that in some respects Fox exceeds him in poetic quality.

While Alter's use of human, humus is a brilliant solution to capturing the problem of roots and alliterations, frankly 'adam, 'adamah are such commmon words and humus so obscure that it can't read to us as the Hebrew read to Israelites. I think that Fox succeeds in this regard sometimes when Alter fails. But both are awesome. :)

At Fri Jul 21, 03:11:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Here are some links that I have come across.

Aramaic Peshitta New Testament Database

A discussion of the Lamsa Version here.

But this is just one website and I am not familiar with it. Follow the thresads to read the occasional interesting post.

This is from an official Peshitta website.

There is more here.

Actually there is a great deal about the Aramaic NT on the internet but I am being very undiscriminating in my links. I first noticed all this when I was asked by a Microsoft friend to review their Syriac support on Abecedaria.

So yes, Fred, I am abecedaria, and I thought that I recognized your site, so I mentioned that. Now you know where I am for a while, having conversations like this from time to time.

At Fri Jul 21, 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

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At Fri Jul 21, 03:31:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I appreciated your comments about Fox and Alter. I am enjoying reading them both.

At Fri Jul 21, 07:57:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

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At Sat Jul 22, 05:26:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Anon, I wonder whether "nuances that only come out in the conversation between multiple medieval commentators" are in fact nuances of the Hebrew Bible at all, at least in the sense of being any part of the meaning that the original authors intended, or whether they are simply what later commentators have read into the text. And you can read almost anything into the text if you try, as for example in The Bible Code. I'm sure the mediaeval commentators had some excellent things to say about the original authors' intentions. But this needs to be kept separate from their eisegesis and from application to their own situations.

At Sat Jul 22, 06:48:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

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