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[O.T. CRITICISM
BIBLE

text and the Septuagint, the Hebrew text and New Testament quotations from the Old Testament.

In order that the principles already perceived by Capellus might be satisfactorily applied in establishing a critical text, many things were needed; for example, a complete collation of existing MSS. of the Jewish text and of the Samaritan text of the Pentateuch, the establishing of a critical text of the Septuagint, a careful study of the several versions directed to determining when real variants are implied and what they are. Some of this work has been accomplished: much of it remains to be done.

The Hebrew MSS. were collated by Kennicott and de Rossi at the close of the 18th century, with sufficient thoroughness to justify the important conclusion that all existing MSS. reproduce a single recension. The Samaritan MSS. are still very imperfectly collated; the same is true of the Syriac and other versions except the Septuagint. In regard to the Septuagint, though the work is by no means complete, much has been done. For collection of material the edition of Holmes and Parsons (Oxford, 1798-1827), with its magnificent critical apparatus, is pre-eminent; the preparation of a similar edition, on a rather smaller scale but embodying the results of fresh and more careful collation, was subsequently undertaken by Cambridge scholars.[1] These editions furnish the material, but neither attempts the actual construction of a critical text of the version. Some important contributions towards a right critical method of using the material collected have been made—in particular by Lagarde, who has also opened up a valuable line of critical work, along which much remains to be done, by his restoration of the Lucianic recension, one of the three great recensions of the Greek text of the Old Testament which obtained currency at the close of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th centuries A.D.

More especially since the time of Capellus the value of the Septuagint for correcting the Hebrew text has been recognized; but it has often been used uncritically, and the correctness of the Hebrew text underlying it in comparison with the text of the Hebrew MSS., though still perhaps most generally underestimated, has certainly at times been exaggerated.

It has only been possible here to indicate in the briefest way what is involved in the collection and critical sifting of the extant evidence for the text of the Old Testament, how much of the work has been done and how much Results of Criticism. remains; and with equal brevity it must suffice to indicate the position which faces the textual critic when all that can be done in this way has been done. In so far as it is possible to recover the Hebrew text from which the Greek version was made, it is possible to recover a form of the Hebrew text current about 280 B.C. in the case of the Pentateuch, some time before 100 B.C. in the case of most of the rest of the Old Testament. By comparison of the Hebrew MSS. it is not difficult to recover the recension which with few and unimportant variants they have perpetuated, and which may safely be regarded as differing but slightly from the text current and officially established before the end of the 2nd century A.D. By a comparison of these two lines of evidence we can approximate to a text current about 300 B.C. or later; but for any errors which had entered into the common source of these two forms of the text we possess no documentary means of detection whatsoever. The case then stands thus. Except by the obviously absurd assumption of the infallibility of copyists for the centuries before c. 300 B.C., we cannot escape the conclusion that errors lurk even where no variants now exist, and that such errors can be corrected, if at all, only by conjectural emendation. The dangers of conjectural emendation are well known and apparent; large numbers of such emendations have been ill-advised; but in the case of many passages the only alternative for the textual critic who is at once competent and honest is to offer such emendations or to indicate that such passages are corrupt and the means of restoring them lacking.

Conjectural emendations were offered by Capellus in the 17th, and by scholars such as C. F. Houbigant, Archbishop Seeker, Bishop Lowth and J. D. Michaelis in the 18th century. Some of these have approved themselves to successive generations of scholars, who have also added largely to the store of such suggestions; conjectural emendation has been carried furthest by upholders of particular metrical theories (such as Bickell and Duhm) which do not accommodate themselves well to the existing text, and by T. K. Cheyne (in Critica Biblica, 1903), whose restorations resting on a dubious theory of Hebrew history have met with little approval, though his negative criticism of the text is often keen and suggestive.

A model of the application of the various resources of Old Testament textual criticism to the restoration of the text is C. H. Cornill’s Das Buch des Propheten Ezechiel (1886): outstanding examples of important systematic critical notes are J. Wellhausen’s Der Text der Bücher Samuelis (1871) and S. R. Driver’s Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel (1890). Haupt’s Sacred Books of the Old Testament, edited by various scholars, was designed to present, when complete, a critical text of the entire Old Testament with critical notes. The results of textual criticism, including a considerable number of conjectural emendations, are succinctly presented in Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (1906); but the text here printed is the ordinary Massoretic (vocalized) text. The valuable editions of the Old Testament by Baer and Delitzsch, and by Ginsburg, contain critical texts of the Jewish interpretation of Scripture, and therefore necessarily uncritical texts of the Hebrew Old Testament itself: it lies entirely outside their scope to give or even to consider the evidence which exists for correcting the obvious errors in the text of the Old Testament as received and perpetuated by the Jewish interpreters. See also the authorities mentioned in the following section.  (G. B. G.*) 


4. Higher Criticism.

We now pass on to consider the growth of literary and historic criticism, which constitute the Higher Criticism as already explained. Down to the Reformation conditions were unfavourable to such criticism; the prevailing dogmatic use of Scripture gave no occasion for inquiry into the human origins or into the real purport and character of the several books. Nevertheless we find some sporadic and tentative critical efforts or questions. The most remarkable of these was made outside the Church—a significant indication of the adverse effect of the conditions within; the Neo-platonist philosopher Porphyry[2] in the 3rd century A.D., untrammelled by church tradition and methods, anticipated one of the clearest and most important conclusions of modern criticism: he detected the incorrectness of the traditional ascription of Daniel to the Jewish captivity in Babylon and discerned that the real period of its composition was that of Antiochus Epiphanes, four centuries later. In the mind even of Augustine (Locutio in Jos. vi. 25) questions were raised by the occurrence of the formula “until this day” in Jos. iv. 9, but were stilled by a rather clever though wrong use of Jos. vi. 25; Abelard (Heloissae Problema, xli.) considers the problem whether the narrative of Moses’s death in Deut. contains a prophecy by Moses or is the work of another and later writer, while the Jewish scholar Ibn Ezra (Abenezra), in a cryptic note on Deut. i. 1, which has been often quoted of late years, gathers together several indications that point, as he appears to perceive, to the post-Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch. Even rarer than these rare perceptions of the evidence of the quasi-historical books to their origin are such half-perceptions of the literary origin of the prophetical books as is betrayed by Ibn Ezra, who appears to question the Isaianic authorship of Is. xl.-lxvi., and by Photius, patriarch of Constantinople in the 9th century, who, according to Diestel (Gesch. des A. T., 169), raises the question why the sixth chapter of Isaiah, containing the inaugural vision, does not stand at the beginning of the book.

Even after the Renaissance and the Reformation tradition continued influential. For though the Reformers were critical of the authority of ecclesiastical tradition in the matter of

  1. The Old Testament in Greek, by A. E. Brooke and N. McLean, vol. i. pt. 1 (1906)
  2. His arguments are stated briefly (and in order to be refuted) by Jerome in his commentary on Daniel.