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Evidence of Editing

Evidence of Editing: Growth and Change of Texts in the Hebrew Bible

Reinhard Müller
Juha Pakkala
Bas ter Haar Romeny
  • Book Info
    Evidence of Editing
    Book Description:

    A new perspective on editorial activity in the Hebrew Bible for research and teaching

    Evidence of Editinglays out the case for substantial and frequent editorial activity within the Hebrew Bible. The authors show how editors omitted, expanded, rewrote, and compiled both smaller and larger phrases and passages to address religious and political change. The book refines the exegetical method of literary and redaction criticism, and its results have important consequences for the future use of the Hebrew Bible in historical and theological studies.


    Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic examples of editorial activityClear explanations of the distinctions between textual, literary, and redaction criticismFifteen chapters attesting to continual editorial activity in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-748-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    This book seeks to demonstrate that substantial editing took place in the history of the Hebrew Bible. It presents empirical evidence¹ that gives exemplary insight into the editorial processes. The examples show how successive scribes updated the texts to accord with changed historical and social circumstances and with new religious concepts. On the basis of evidence that is collected here it can reasonably be assumed that editorial reworking of the Hebrew Bible continued unabated for centuries before the texts gradually became unchangeable. Their growing religious authority does not seem to have precluded scribes from changing the form, meaning, and content...

  4. 1 Added Detail in the Samaritan Version of Leviticus 17:4 concerning the Sacrifices
    (pp. 19-26)

    Leviticus 17:4 is part of the first law of the so-called Holiness Code in Lev 17–26. After the short preamble to the code in Lev 17:1–2, the following two verses, 3–4, contain Yhwh’s instruction to Moses concerning those Israelites who slaughter an ox, lamb, or goat and do not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting for cultic sacrifice. The MT uses the expression להקדיבקרבן, which commonly refers to bringing offerings but which does not specify what types of offerings are meant.¹ Because the text discusses primarily punishments for neglecting the offering altogether, no...

  5. 2 An Expansion to the Passover Law: Leviticus 23:5–8 and Numbers 28:16–25 Compared
    (pp. 27-34)

    This chapter will illustrate how the law on the Passover festival of Lev 23:5–8 was expanded in Num 28:16–25. Rather than dealing with parallel textual witnesses of the same biblical passage, this example shows how a text was used as a source to form a new passage, both of which were eventually included in the same collection of books of the Pentateuch. Often the relationship of such passages is controversial or debatable, but here it is very likely that Lev 23:5–8 was the source for Num 28:16–25.¹ We are therefore on solid ground in determining how...

  6. 3 From Glosses to Larger Expansions: The Masoretic Text of Numbers 13–14 Compared with the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch
    (pp. 35-44)

    Within the books of the Pentateuch, the textual history of Num 13–14 is of particular interest since these chapters contain several verses where the major textual witnesses differ substantially. There are good reasons to assume that, in most cases, the differences are the result of late editorial changes. It seems that these changes are indicative of the importance and theological weight of this story within the larger narrative of the Pentateuch.¹

    An illustrative example is the transition from Num 13 to 14. In the textual history of Num 13:33, a verse that lies at the junction of these chapters,...

  7. 4 Late Additions or Editorial Shortening? Joshua 20 in the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint
    (pp. 45-58)

    Joshua 20 discusses the cities of refuge and cases of an accidental slayer. There are substantial differences between the MT and the LXX; in parts of the text the MT contains extensive plusses in relation to the Greek tradition. The textual differences are reflected in differing concepts about the cities of refuge. From the comparison between the MT and the LXX it can be deduced that substantial editorial alterations took place in the history of this chapter, although it is not evident which version is more original and which developed from the other. At first glance, the LXX seems to...

  8. 5 A Qumran Manuscript as Evidence of an Addition in the Masoretic Text: Judges 6:7–10
    (pp. 59-68)

    In an ideal case a theory about the literary growth of a text is corroborated by the evidence of textual witnesses in which the postulated older version is still preserved. A striking example is found in Judg 6. A theory about the history of this chapter was widely accepted before the discovery of a manuscript from Qumran that confirmed the theory. In other words, a literary-critical reconstruction was later corroborated by empirical evidence.

    The sixth chapter of the book of Judges begins with an extensive description of the suffering of the Israelites at the hands of the Midianites (6:1–6)....

  9. 6 A Secondary Omission in the Masoretic Text of 1 Samuel 10:1
    (pp. 69-78)

    If one textual witness contains a plus in relation to another witness, there are often good reasons to assume the priority of thelectio brevior, “the shorter reading.” Accordingly, this is one of the classic rules of textual criticism. It is easy to imagine that such expansions were secondarily inserted in order to explain earlier texts or to comment on them.¹ Although rarely acknowledged, there are exceptions to this rule. There is evidence of cases where a plus in a textual witness is not an expansion but represents the original text so that the parallel to the plus was secondarily...

  10. 7 An Addition in a Qumran Manuscript as Evidence for the Continuous Growth of the Text: 1 Samuel 10:27–11:1
    (pp. 79-100)

    After the appointment of Saul as king in 1 Sam 10, the MT and LXX versions of the following chapter move rather abruptly to the Ammonite siege of Jabesh-Gilead. 4QSama, however, contains three additional lines of text, making the transition more natural. This plus was also known, or so it seems, to Flavius Josephus. Although the first editor of the fragment explained the plus as an original piece of text lost in the MT and the LXX,¹ it is argued here that the passage is more likely a later addition in Deuteronomistic style, smoothing over the transition from one source...

  11. 8 The Septuagint Provides Evidence of a Late Addition in the Masoretic Text: 1 Kings 6:11–14
    (pp. 101-108)

    Although the MT is a witness of high quality, it contains many readings that are probably secondary in relation to the text of other witnesses, the LXX in particular. The most conspicuous examples of such differences between the MT and the LXX are found throughout the book of Jeremiah,¹ but one can also find secondary readings of the MT in other parts of the Hebrew Bible. Many of these readings are not due to scribal mistakes but go back to deliberate changes that give insight into the late stages of editorial activity. Among them are not only marginal glosses and...

  12. 9 From Small Additions to Rewriting in the Story about the Burning of Jerusalem
    (pp. 109-126)

    The burning of Jerusalem is portrayed in five different biblical passages: 2 Kgs 25:8–12; Jer 52:12–16; Jer 39:8–10; 2 Chr 36:19–20; and 1 Esd 1:52–54. Three of the passages contain both the Hebrew and Greek versions, whereas Jer 39:4–13 is transmitted only in Hebrew and 1 Esd 1:52–54 only in Greek.¹ Despite some significant differences among the accounts, the word-for-word parallels imply, beyond any question, that all of the passages are literarily dependent. Moreover, there are no features or details in any of the passages that necessitate an external source. The differences are...

  13. 10 Evidence for the Literary Growth of Gedaliah’s Murder in 2 Kings 25:25, Jeremiah 41:1–3 MT, and Jeremiah 48:1–3 LXX
    (pp. 127-142)

    After the destruction of Judah in 587 BCE, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah as governor over the remaining population. According to the Hebrew Bible, Gedaliah was soon murdered by Ishmael, one of the army commanders who had come to Mizpah. Two passages in the Hebrew Bible describe the murder: 2 Kgs 25:25 and Jer 41:1–3 (≈ Jer 48:1–3 LXX). While the Hebrew and Greek texts of 2 Kgs 25:25 contain only minor differences, the Greek and Hebrew of Jer 41:1–3 (≈ Jer 48:1–3 LXX) differ considerably from each other as well as from 2 Kgs 25:25. It...

  14. 11 Techniques of Rewriting Prophecy: Jeremiah 48 Compared with Isaiah 15–16
    (pp. 143-158)

    The oracle concerning Moab in Jer 48 contains sections that have close parallels with the prophetic lament on Moab in Isa 15–16. Scholars commonly agree that in all likelihood one of these texts is directly dependent on the other.¹ Most commentators regard Isa 15–16 as the literary source of parts of Jer 48.² There are good reasons to assume that the core of Jer 48 was secondarily supplemented with material from Isa 15–16.

    In the following, we will have a closer look at the parallel passages. The comparison gives striking insight into how editors worked with older...

  15. 12 Evidence of Psalm Composition: Psalm 108 as a Secondary Compilation of Other Psalm Texts
    (pp. 159-178)

    Psalm exegesis often does not pay much attention to the intricate problems of literary history. Psalms are interpreted as given literary units, irrespective of whether they were in fact initially created as such units or bear marks of editorial work. There is evidence, however, that gives strikingly clear insight into the editorial processes that took place in the literary history of single psalms and of the entire Psalter. Clear documented evidence for these processes is found at Qumran, in particular in the great Psalms scroll 11QPsaand in the manuscript 4Q236, both of which show considerable differences from the versions...

  16. 13 Revision of Ezra-Nehemiah in 1 Esdras: Expansions, Omissions, and Rewritings
    (pp. 179-192)

    The Masoretic version of Ezra-Nehemiah and the Greek 1 Esdras contain several differences.¹ It has become increasingly probable that 1 Esdras generally represents a later literary stage than the MT.² In some cases, however, 1 Esdras may preserve older readings than the MT, so that each case has to be investigated separately to determine the more original reading and the exact development of the text. The two versions reward comparison, because they provide many examples of diverse changes made to the older text. Although 1 Esdras contains many substantial changes as well,³ in this chapter we will draw attention mainly...

  17. 14 Evidence for Large Additions in the Book of Esther
    (pp. 193-204)

    The book of Esther, which eventually became part of the canonical collection of the five Megilloth, provides a large amount of evidence for editorial changes because it is preserved in three distinct editions. The MT differs considerably from the two Greek translations, both of which also represent different textual traditions.¹ The older translation, the so-called B-text (also called LXX Esther and Old Greek with siglum ó), is included in most LXX manuscripts, while the younger translation, the so-called A-text (also called the Alpha text or L-text),² is usually dated to the first century BCE or to the first century CE.³...

  18. 15 Evidence for Expansions, Relocations, Omissions, and Rewriting: Joash the King and Jehoiada the Priest in 2 Kings 11–12 and 2 Chronicles 22–24
    (pp. 205-218)

    Because many of the Chronicler’s sources are preserved in the books of Samuel and Kings, Chronicles is a productive example for understanding how a source text could be used when a new composition was formed. The creation of an entirely new composition distinguishes the present example from many others in this volume where we compare different textual versions of the same passage (e.g., in Num 13–14) or a passage that was created on the basis of another (e.g., Jer 48 on the basis of Isa 15–16). Although it has a different type of relationship with its source from...

  19. Conclusions: Empirical Evidence of Editorial Processes
    (pp. 219-228)

    Fifteen passages from the Hebrew Bible have been investigated in this volume. They show that substantial editing took place in the literary history of the Hebrew Bible. The evidence consists of textual witnesses that differ from the MT and of parallel passages within one textual tradition, especially within the MT. This evidence could be characterized as empirical in the sense that the editorial changes can be observed by comparing two or more preserved textual witnesses or parallel texts. The examples thus provide a solid basis for understanding the general nature of editorial processes. It can reasonably be assumed that similar...

  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-242)
  21. Index of Sources
    (pp. 243-252)
  22. Index of Authors
    (pp. 253-256)