Sunday, June 14, 2020

Docherty 4: Septuagintal Studies

Chapter 2: Previous Scholarship
Chapter 3: Developments in the Study of Midrash

1. I found this chapter the most helpful so far. Docherty potentially challenges something I have said quite often, namely, that the New Testament authors felt free to modify the text of the Old Testament. Instead, she argues that the text of the Greek Old Testament was already pluriform and varied somewhat significantly. Thus, while New Testament authors may cite texts that differ from the Septuagintal text as it coalesced by the time of the great codices, she would imply that, at least as far as Hebrews is concerned, the author was probably not very innovative with the text.

First, she uses the word Septuagint in reference to "the whole transmitted tradition of Greek versions" (123). "Old Greek" thus refers to the earliest stage of Greek translation that can be reconstructed for any book. This follows Leonard Greenspoon's 1987 distinction.

Similarly, she follows with most scholars the sense of Paul de Lagarde that the Greek translations of each book likely began with an Urtext, a single individual translation of each biblical book. This is in contrast to the theory of Paul Kahle, who proposed multiple original translations that eventually coalesced. However, once the original text began to circulate, revisions began almost immediately.

2. The result is to see a lot of options in the mix from early on. Symmachus, Aquila, and Theodotion are no longer seen as new, late, and independent translations but continuations of previous revisions (125). Even some of the revisions of the Lucianic Recension of the 300s may actually be witnesses to the Old Greek (128). "The serious exegete can no longer be content with comparing the textual form of Old Testament citations in the New Testament with only the major Septuagint witnesses like Codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus" (125). Even the NT itself serves "as a witness to textual plurality in the first century CE."

I must say that while I must be willing to swallow this pill, I want to see more evidence. For example, the last sentence is not evidence but could be a likely conclusion. She has me listening, but I'm not just going to take the word of the footnotes without further evidence.

3. She goes through some of the key psalm citations in Hebrews. She does convince that in most of these cases Hebrews is following some Greek text rather than freewheeling. One of the most interesting case studies is the use of Deuteronomy 32:43 in Hebrews 1:6. The Dead Sea Scrolls have, I think, shown that the author is following a form of the Greek that is actually more faithful to the original Hebrew than the Masoretic text.

The peculiarity is the subject "the angels of God" found only in the Odes and Ethiopic text, both of which are late (400s). Was this an invention of the author of Hebrews or another Greek tradition. I'm quite open to it being an alternative Greek tradition.

4. Aland's Greek New Testament has "like a garment" as an addition by the author. It is possible. It doesn't change the meaning. However, there is a DSS that has it (11QPsa). This suggests to me that the author was following an exemplar here.

Docherty apparently didn't know that Philo quotes Genesis 2:2 exactly like Hebrews 4:4 does. (She would have heard me say it at SBL last fall though :-) I thus think that the author of Hebrews was following an exemplar here as well. Her mention of how the slight modification adding "God" to the verse could arise might just as well have been an Alexandrian modification.

In any case, her claim that Hebrews does not freewheel in its quotations is true. However, this does not prove her case that the author "held a very high view of the inspiration of scripture, scripture in its Greek as well as Hebrew form" (141). An atheist might be inclined to quote texts word for word.

She concludes: "The new research discussed in this chapter now places the burden of proof on those who would argue against a variant reading and for a definite theological alteration of a biblical source" (142).

I will mull this over. I will say that I would want to ponder beyond citations to allusions and echoes. She has just worked with quotations. She does mention in the chapter that she is just speaking of Hebrews and not the rest of the New Testament in this study.

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