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Wevers, John William


Text history of the Greek exodus 1993


Sollamo, Raija

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Theologische Literaturzeitung 118. Jahrgang 1993 Nr. 11


Schriftauslegung könne die Allegorese neben und nach der
historischen Exegese sein „als eine interessante Möglichkeit me-
taphernoientierter Kommunikation im Rahmen einer theologischen
Ästhetik" (163).

Halle (Saale Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr

Wevers, John William: Text History of the Greek Exodus.

Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1992. 280 S. gr.8° =
Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen
. Philol.-hist. Klasse, 192. Mitteilungen des Septuaginta-
Unternehmens, 21. Kart. DM 205,-. ISBN 3-525-82479-3.

The text history of Exodus concludes the series of text histo-
ries for the books of the Pentateuch, written by the grand old
man of Septuagint studies, Professor (emeritus) John William
Wevers. The book follows the well-known pattern of his pre-
viously published text histories. It begins with an introduetion to
the most important text families (the Hexaplaric text, the Byzan-
tine text group and the Catena text) and their possible recensio-
nal characteristics. The reader who is not well acquainted with
the recensions is happy with being provided with sufficient Information
in a nutshell. Exodus appears to be particularly suit-
able for studying the Hexaplaric recension. Th Hexaplaric signs
are well preserved in the Syro-Hexaplaric translation (Syh) and
in codex G (which ccrtainly consists of only a few fragments
from chapters 36-40) as well as in some manuscripts of the
Armenian Version. Wevers regards the Armenian Version as "a
valuable new source for studying the Hexaplaric recension". At
the same time he is fully aware thal the copyists of the Armenian
tradilion have made many mistakes, "the signs are confused and
sometimes placed incorrectly" (1).

An odd sign 6 eßrj occasionally appears in the manuscripts of
Syh. Wevers demonstrales that the sign is due to an error made
by a Syriac copyist, since the Syriac for ot y looks quite similar
to the Syriac for ö eßo (26). Thus, both the signs denote the
three younger translators Aquila, Symmachos and Theodotion.

It is always exciting to learn whether any manuscripts show
traces of an early recensional activity in the direction of the MT.
Since Carthelcmy's Les devanciers d'Aquila (1963) it has been
generally acknowledged that early pre-Origen recensional ac-
tivities existed, the most famous revision being the so-called
xaiye recension, identified by Barthelcmy. W. has found some
traces of a pre-Origen recension in members of the Hexaplaric
group as well as in the oldest uncial manuscripts (Codex Alex-
andrinus in particular). Of early papyri only one, 805, a Qumran
fragment from ca. 100 B.C., shows evidence for occasional
recensional activity based on the Hebrew, while the Egyptian
papyri fragments 970, 908, 909 and 1000, seem to be totally free
Of it. According to W. "the type of possible recensional activity
was on the whole casual. No trace whatsoever was found of the
kind of revision identified by Barthclemy" (40).

In chapter V W. examines the thesis as to whether the text of
Cyril of Alexandria (died 444) might give some clue to the elusi-
ve Hesychian recension. Cyril was a contemporary of Jerome,
and as an Alexandrian he ought to have made use of this recension
, since Jerome speaks of Alexandria and Egypt as lauding
Hesychius as the author of their LXX. The conclusion W. arrives
at is that (he (ext of Cyr is a mixed text with a bent towards a B-
type text. He found in it no trace whatsoever of the Hesychian
recension. Thus, this recension still remains a puzzling mystery
for LXX studies.

As for the final chapters 36-40, W. has found a Solution for
printing only one critical text and one apparatus, a task in which
Brooke and McLean were unsuccessful in the Cambridge editi-
on of the Greek Exodus (1909). The Hexaplaric text of these

chapters as well as the Septuagint text differ considerably from
the Masoretic Hebrew text (MT). In particular, the Hexaplaric
text is very difficult to deal with along with the MT, since it is
substantially shorter than the MT and contains major transpositi-
ons and a great number of other variants.

The last six chapters of Exodus (Exod 35-40) present an
aecount of the building of the tabernacle. In fact, they repeat
what is said earlier in the book in the form of Instructions con-
cerning this building (Exod 25-31). The Greek translation of
Exod 35-40 is often referred to as a confused and hardly intelli-
gible translation. For the first, W. has tried to answer the questi-
on, whether Exod 35-40 along with ch. 25-31 make sense. His
answer goes in the direction that "this work is a well-planned,
well-constructed aecount, which when read by itself and without
prejudice usually makes good sense." (144)

What kind of parent text lay behind Exod 35-40, is the second
question which these chapters present. The LXX translation dif-
fers in many ways from the Masoretic Hebrew text (abbreviations
such as 38:18-21, various small changes, omissions and rearran-
gements such as 39:14-23). W. concludes that the Greek translation
seems often to presuppose a parent text different from the
Masoretic text, but "on the whole it is unnecessary to posit a
parent substantially different from the reeeived text" (145). In my
opinion, this statement leaves the question unsolved whether or to
what extent the differences are to be attributed to the translator
and to what extent to a different parent text. I have the impression
that W. considers most changes to be due to the translator. He
insists that the translator of ch. 35-40 "did not believe his task to
be one of simply translating the Masoretic text of ch. 35-40, but
rather in some way of presenting an aecount which, while not
contradicting the Hebrew text, would show how Moses carried
out the Orders given in the pattern aecount." (143). This greatly
diverges from what the translators usually understood their task to
be. Therefore, my question ist whether it might be more reason-
able to suppose that the Greek translator had a parent text considerably
different from the MT. Accordingly, he was able to con-
centrate totally on translating. I agree with Anneli Aejmelaeus
who has written an excellent article on this topic in SBL, Septuagint
and Cognate Studies Series 33 (1992), 381-402).

Finally, W. takes up the difficult question about the translator.
Was the translator of the last six chapters the same as the translator
of Exod 1-347 W. says that he does not know for certain, but
he thinks that the translation was done by two different persons.
His main argument is taken from the direction in which the sea
lies in different parts of Exod. In ch. 27:13 the translator under-
stands the sea to be to the north, which holds true in Alexandria,
but in 37:7-13, where the Masoretic text has exactly the same ori-
entation, the translator considers the sea to be in a westward
direction from the tabernacle, which is a typical Palestinian orien-
tation. In W.s opinion only a Schizophrenie person could have
translated so differently in different parts of the book. Therefore,
his conclusion that ch. 35-40 were translated by a different person
than translated ch. 1-34 is very reasonable.

The last part of the text history deals with all kinds of gramma-
tical and translationtechnical details and general surveys on
which were the usual equivalents or construetions used by the
translator. W. also discusses difficult text critical instances and
the question which of the alternatives is more likely to be the original
reading. This par is very useful, if one works with a certain
type of material, as I do with the repetitions of prepositions and
possessive pronouns in co-ordinate items. As a matter of curiosi-
ty, which shows how difficult decisions might be, 1 refer to Exod
32:29 and the possible repetition of the preposition ev in co-ordinate
items. In his critical text edition and in his text history W.
argues for the repetition of the preposition, whereas in his Notes
on the Greek Text of Exodus he insists that the repetition of ev is
a Hexaplaric addition.