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The Samaritan Pentateuch

The Samaritan Pentateuch: an introduction to its origin, history, and significance for Biblical studies

Robert T. Anderson
Terry Giles
  • Book Info
    The Samaritan Pentateuch
    Book Description:

    The Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) is the sacred scripture of the Samaritans, a tenacious religious community made famous by Jesus’ Good Samaritan story that persists to this day. Not so widely known is the impact of the SP outside the Samaritan community. Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in this scripture, as evidenced by several translations of the SP as well as reference in Qumran scroll studies to the SP or an SP-like tradition in an effort to describe some of the textual evidence present in the scrolls. This volume presents a general introduction to and overview of the SP, suitable for a course text and as a reference tool for the professional scholar.

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-700-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) is the sacred text of the Samaritan community. That community, made famous to the West in the New Testament stories of the “good Samaritan” and the “woman at the well,” is of ancient origin, yet it persists to this day. Throughout its long history, the Samaritan community has always recognized as sacred only the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Pentateuch, but in a version quite distinct from the other two better known ancient versions of the Hebrew Bible: the Masoretic Text (MT) and the Septuagint (LXX). The SP shows its distinctiveness most noticeably...

  4. 1 Stories of Samaritan Origins
    (pp. 7-24)

    The SP is the sacred text and ideological core of the Samaritan religious community. That community and this text are so intertwined that it is almost impossible to think of one apart from the other.¹ Consequently, our investigation into the origins of the SP will necessarily find its context in the origins of the Samaritan religious community. Historical inquiry, archaeological excavation, and detailed textual investigation of the Qumran materials during the last decades of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century call for a reassessment of presumed conclusions about the origin of the Samaritans and their...

  5. 2 Textual Pluriformity in the Late Second Temple Period
    (pp. 25-42)

    The SP is a connected text. The SP is connected to a religious community for whom it is life and vitality. The SP is connected to the broader biblical tradition, providing a unique witness to that tradition. And the SP is connected to a Second Temple literary milieu, apart from which our understanding of the biblical tradition itself can only be partial and incomplete. In this chapter we will consider important editorial practices and literary characteristics that helped shape the various biblical versions and traditions. In chapter 3 we will examine specific Qumran texts that have immediate bearing on the...

  6. 3 Qumran and the “Pre-Samaritan” Text
    (pp. 43-58)

    As was discussed in chapter 2, scriptural texts were fluid during the late Second Temple period, with various readings of the same text accepted side by side, at times accompanied by commentaries on the authoritative text. The SP is based upon one of these text types, generally referred to as “pre-Samaritan” and characterized as a harmonistic text type in use during the second and first centuries b.c.e.¹ This harmonistic text type was further modified by the Samaritans, probably sometime between the first century b.c.e. and the first century c.e., to make it conform to established Samaritan beliefs and practices. Sidnie...

  7. 4 From Pre-Samaritan to Samaritan Pentateuch
    (pp. 59-70)

    The last chapter concluded with a brief summary of the harmonistic and the pre-Samaritan group of manuscripts recovered at Qumran. These texts existed side by side with other scriptural text traditions, forming a fluid and dynamic textual environment. This observation provides the starting point for our examination of the transition from the pre-Samaritan group of texts to the SP. For Samaritan studies, one of the most significant findings resulting from the examination of the Qumran scrolls is the awareness that “the Second Temple communities behind the Septuagint, the biblical texts discovered at Qumran, and the Samaritan Pentateuch employed the same...

  8. 5 Textual Characteristics of the Samaritan Pentateuch
    (pp. 71-104)

    Early in the last century, the influential Samaritan scholar James Montgomery suggested that the SP’s “variations will never be of interest to more than the textual scholar.”² Given the opportunity today, Montgomery would doubtless revise his opinion, for in recent years the SP has been widely recognized as an important participant in the literary milieu of the Second Temple period. In fairness, of course, Montgomery could not have foreseen the discovery of the Qumran scrolls, nor could he have imagined that those materials would shine new light not only upon the SP but also upon the very nature of textual...

  9. 6 The Samaritan Pentateuch and Emerging First-Century Sectarianism
    (pp. 105-136)

    The fluid nature of the pluriform scriptural tradition in the first century c.e. means that identifying the presence of the SP in the New Testament and other early Christian literature is at times tenuous and provisional. In this chapter we will survey the cultural complexities that have a bearing on the use or nonuse of the SP and pre-Samaritan literary tradition by New Testament authors. Ideological points of contact between the Samaritan sect and the emerging Christian sect will provide a context within which to consider the function of the SP in the New Testament. The possible existence of a...

  10. 7 The Samaritan Pentateuch in the First Millennium
    (pp. 137-146)

    No complete copies of the Samaritan Pentateuch produced in the first millennium c.e. survive. Nevertheless, portions of the text are preserved in Origen’s third-century c.e. Hexapla, which refers to a Samareitikon (a Greek translation of the SP discussed in ch. 8 below), in marble and stone inscriptions dating mainly from the third to the sixth centuries c.e., and in metal and cloth inscriptions dating from the fifteenth century to the present. These witnesses provide valuable clues to the history and use of the SP during the first millennium.

    Apart from the Samareitikon, which may have originally contained all of the...

  11. 8 The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Beginnings of Textual Criticism
    (pp. 147-168)

    A century before any Samaritan manuscript arrived in Europe, the Reformation had fueled both Roman Catholic and Protestant biblical research, with scholars attempting to support their respective positions in the new sectarian conflict. Roman Catholics favored the Koine Greek LXX version of the Old Testament, while Protestants sanctioned the Hebrew MT. Biblical languages became a serious focus of study, and an avid interest in old biblical manuscripts developed. An arbitrator between these two texts—Greek and Hebrew, Roman Catholic and Protestant—was sought by both sides.

    The first European scholar to anticipate that the SP might play such a mediating...

  12. 9 The Samaritan Pentateuch in Translation
    (pp. 169-186)

    The SP has been carried across eras of political upheaval and changing cultures by translation into several major languages as new cultures defined the common language of the time and place. Samaritans claim, and all evidence confirms, that the SP, like the MT, was originally composed in Hebrew. The new languages usually arrived in the entourage of invading armies, but sometimes were utilized by Samaritans fleeing to other parts of the Mediterranean world.

    We will see that the trail of translations of the SP intersects with several phenomena related to the Samaritan community: the development of Targums; the Samaritan diaspora...

  13. Postscript: A Reintroduction
    (pp. 187-190)

    Given the resurgence in SP studies and the great amount of work yet to be done, a conclusion seems premature and inappropriate here. Rather, a look forward seems the best way to end this book.

    In recent years, the Samaritan community has expanded, growing numerically and becoming much more visible to an international community. The Samaritan population has grown from fewer than two hundred to more than six hundred. Extensive building has been done on Mount Gerizim, and the community has essentially moved there from neighborhoods closer to Tel Aviv. An enhanced sense of communal identity has led members of...

  14. For Further Reference: Modern Tools and Translations
    (pp. 191-194)

    Readers interested in further examination of the SP will find a number of tools to assist in research. This appendix describes some of the more important tools and resources available for examination of the SP.

    August Freiherr von Gall produced a five-volume critical edition of the SP in 1918, Der Hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner. Despite its limitations, it remains the standard critical edition of the SP.¹ This text is an eclectic reconstruction incorporating many but not all of the manuscripts available at the beginning of the twentieth century. The text is accompanied by a critical apparatus listing variant readings. Von...

  15. Ancient Sources Index
    (pp. 213-219)
  16. Modern Authors Index
    (pp. 220-222)
  17. Subject Index
    (pp. 223-226)