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Altes Testament


Pakkala, Juha


God’s Word Omitted. Omissions in the Transmission of the Hebrew Bible.


Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2013. 418 S. = Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments, 251. Geb. EUR 70,00. ISBN 978-3-525-53611-7.


Kristin De Troyer

In the first chapter, the author surveys the problem of what pre-cisely an omission is and what precisely authoritative scripture is, as omissions only seem to be a problem is a writing is of a certain nature. What is worth noting in this first chapter is that the author studies not only the New Testament and how omissions were viewed in New Testament scholarship, but also how omissions appeared in Dead Sea Scrolls, the Epic of Gilgamesh and in Assyrian Annals. P. states categorically what he wants to study: »I will primarily be looking for unequivocal intentional omissions where parts of the older text were left out of the textual transmission« (87). He clarifies: »Unintentional omissions, scribal lapses or omissions due to corruptions are there excluded« (ibid.).
Chapter 2 is devoted to »Conservative Editorial Processes in the Samaritan Pentateuch«. P. starts with the observation that normally in the Samaritan Pentateuch one finds additions, especially in places where texts were being adapted to other Biblical texts. As the focus of the book is however, omissions, P. turns his attention to these rather seldom occurring cases. A first case, aptly entitled: »Small Omission, Large Impact« deals with the omission in the SP of the word »all« attached to »places« (Ex 20:24) where one can sacrifice: a similar case, albeit that not one word, but only one letter is omitted, is entitled »An Omission of One Letter – Many Gods Omitted« (Gen 31:53). Then there is the famous problem of Deut 27:4 – where to sacrifice, on Mount Gerizim or on Mount Ebal? P. gives an excellent survey of the witnesses and discuss their readings – albeit that he does not mention one important, deviating reading found in the Greek tradition – and concludes that SP decided to omit the problems surrounding the location by simply omitting the loca-tion as mentioned in the elder tradition. In a similar way, P. deals with additions in Jer 25:1–14 and omissions in Jeremiah 32:5/Jeremiah 39:5LXX in Chapter 3. In the next three chapters, P. demonstrates how older compositions or texts were used again as source for new literary compositions. He first turns his attention to the Laws in the Pentateuch where all aspects of editorial processes be-come clear. His example of the text of Ex 22:15–16 and how it was rewritten in Deut 22:28–29 (the case of the violating of the virgins) shows that authors had no problem with omitting »unnecessary elements« (130). Further he notes, that »There is nothing to suggest that he ( that is the author of Ur-Deuteronomium, added KDT) was obliged to preserve any part of the older law if it did not suit his compositional, ideological, and other purposes« (130). Then he deals with the Book of Jubilees – P. acknowledges its different character vis-à-vis its sources, but sees the same sort of omissions and radical changes as in Deuteronomy – and the Temple Scroll, which stands in the same editorial tradition as Deuteronomy, but goes way fur-ther!
Then P. turns his attention again spot on the omissions and considers them as »Means of Ideological or Theological Censorship« – I think this is chapter VII; the chapters are only numbered in the contents page, not in the body of the text; I am wondering whether this is an omission? – with the usual examples of Deut 32:8–9; 32:43, but also the examples of Josh 24:1 and 25 (Shiloh or Shechem?), Josh 24:26 (a statue of JHWH is omitted), the place where Abimelech was inaugurated (Judges 9:6), and the many theological corrections in 1–2Sam and 1–2Kings by means of omissions.
The next chapter is completely devoted to Chronicles, which is a supreme example of a rewritten text – of which most sources are Biblical texts. P. writes that Chronicles gives insight in the many techniques used to create new compositions. He observes the fol-lowing techniques: freely using material (changing, rewriting and omitting), generally following a source text but with additions of themes and perspectives by means of adding words, sentences, verses and passages, and finally, following the source text closely. P. notes that the study of the omissions in Chronicles is necessary and turns to analyse 2Chr 21–25 in comparison with its source text (»or a text relatively close to the MT«, 261) 2Kgs 8–12. P. leaves open the possibility that a later editor of Chronicles omitted a section (I wonder why it necessarily needs to be a later editor) or that 1–2Kgs was edited later than the borrowing by Chronicles and that therefore 1–2Kgs has sections which Chronicles does not. His conclusions – albeit not taking into account the complex relationship between the MT and the Greek texts – are that Chronicles, besides infusing the text with more priests, Levites and Temple and besides some rewriting, omitting and radical editing (for examples, see 287–288), omitted the death of the king in 2Chr 21:20 and replaces the report on the honourable burial of the king »with an account that intends to give an impression that the king’s final fate was humiliating and shameful« (287). P. concludes that Chronicles more easily turned to omissions than his colleagues of other Biblical books. For Chron-Kings addicts there is, on 291, a nice schedule on how the two books developed – with space for editorial rewriting between the elder version of 1–2Kgs and the current MT and space for editorial re-writing after Chronicles was first edited, and before the final text of Chronicles – the common source being the earlier version of 1–2Kgs– a nice contribution to the debate!!!
In the next chapter, P. turns to 1Esdras – where the issue is similar to Chronicles, with the additional difficulty that here we are talking about two Greek texts and one Hebrew (or Aramaic/Hebrew source text). He observes that »most of them (= omissions, added by KDT) are related to the addition of the Story of the Youth« (301). P. deals with especially the omission of the Nehemiah Memoi and concludes that this omission is due to 1Esdras’ editorial emphasis on Zerubbabel and the latter taking over more of the role of Nehemiah.
The last chapter is devoted to the »Radical Editorial Processes in the Book of Esther« – with thanks to P. for keeping my favourite book for the last, albeit that in an earlier stage of the book the chapter on 1Esdras may have been the last. Although P. missed some of my own articles, he comes to the fine conclusion that »the changes in the LXX in relation to the MT of Esther are much more extensive than what can be found in the text-critical evidence of Jeremiah or in the Samaritan Pentateuch« (346) and that »its omissions may be as common as additions« (ibid.). With this chapter, P. moves into translations of Biblical books, where he detects similar editorial processes, albeit with »radical changes and omissions« (347) and where the rule of »full preservation of the older text« (348) is broken.
The book concludes with a great conclusion, in which all the evidence and techniques are pulled together and put in the broader context of an emerging »model for understanding how Hebrew scriptures developed« (sentence written on 254, but which I intentionally re-use here to describe the conclusion). There is of course a fine bibliography and the helpful indices.
My verdict on this book? This book is mind blowing. It is superb! Not a word of this book can be omitted!