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Altes Testament


Schorch, Stefan [Ed.]


The Samaritan Pentateuch. A Critical Editio Maior. Vol. III: Leviticus. Ed. by. S. Schorch.


Berlin u. a.: De Gruyter 2018. XLVI, 251 S. Geb. EUR 99,95. ISBN 978-3-11-040287-2.


Magnar Kartveit

This new edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) is a major contribution to biblical studies. For the first time readers have access to the SP with full apparatuses documenting the SP’s text, the distribution of readings, and the particulars of the Samaritan manuscript tradition.
The SP is a version of the Pentateuch with roots in manuscripts found at Qumran and with readings documenting a separate tradition compared to the Masoretic and the Greek texts of the Hebrew Bible. The Samaritans only acknowledge this part of the Hebrew Bible. Its first presentation in Europe in 1616 caused a sensation among scholars, and the existence of the Samaritan community has come as a surprise to many readers of the Bible through the ages, up to the present day.
The SP was virtually unknown in Europe until Pietro della Valle bought a manuscript of the SP and one with the Samaritan Targum in Damascus and brought them to Paris in 1616. His manuscript of SP was published in the Paris Polyglot of 1632, in the London Polyglot of 1655–57, and was used for Benjamin Kennicott’s edition in 1776. The number of available manuscripts increased over the centuries, and when August Freiherr von Gall published his edition of the SP, Der hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner, Gießen: Töpelmann, 1914–1918, he knew of around 80 manuscripts.
According to Alan D. Crown, »it is estimated that there are at least 750 complete Pentateuch manuscripts in existence« (Samaritan Scribes and Manuscripts, TSAJ 80, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2001, 13), in addition to many fragments with texts. They are kept in the Samaritan synagogue in Nablus, and in libraries and private collections in several countries. Most of them have not been published, with three notable exceptions: the Abisha Scroll, the Cambridge ms. Add. 1846 (Genesis only), and the Shechem ms. 6: F. Pérez Castro, Séfer Abišaʻ: Edición del fragmento antiguo del rollo sagrado del Pentateuco hebreo samaritano de Nablus: Estudio, transcripción, aparato crítico y facsimiles, Textos y Estudios del Seminario Filológico Cardenal Cisneros, 2, Madrid: SCIC, 1959; Luis-Fernando Giron Blanc, Pentateuco Hebreo-Samaritano: Genesis, Textos y Estudios »Cardenal Cisneros« 15, Madrid: SCIC 1976; Abraham Tal, The Samaritan Pentateuch Edited According to Ms 6 (C) of the Shekhem Syna-gogue, Text and Studies in the Hebrew Language and Related Subjects 8, Tel Aviv: TA University 1994. The Abisha Scroll was produced from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries CE, the Cambridge manuscript 1846 is dated to the 12th century, and Shechem ms. 6 was copied in 1204 CE.
When von Gall presented his edition of SP, he employed an eclectic method: by choosing readings from the manuscripts and streamlining them according to Masoretic rules, he in effect created a text that never had existed. The result was a ›Samaritan‹ text as far as some characteristics were concerned, but ›Masoretic‹ in questions of orthography and grammar. Still, the edition was a great achievement, and it has been used until now, despite its heavily criticized deficiencies. Its distribution was enhanced by being included in the software BibleWorks, a program which now has been terminated.
Pérez Castro, Giron Blanc and Tal chose a different approach: a diplomatic edition presenting one manuscript and providing variants in apparatuses. Their editions have limitations, but are widely used. Tal’s edition is included in the software Accordance. In private circulation is an edition with Samaritan characters, created electronically by Israel Tsedaka in 1998.
On this background, Stefan Schorch and his team had to decide on three important issues: 1. How to deal with the amount of manuscripts, 2. To create a diplomatic or an eclectic edition, 3. To use Samaritan characters or square script.
Relating to the first issue, the editors decided to use only the oldest datable manuscripts. In the case of Leviticus these number 24, dating from 1176 to 1362. For the second question they chose a diplomatic edition. The manuscript Dublin Chester Beatty library 751 from 1225 constitutes the text, with variants from the other 23 manuscripts taken into consideration in the first apparatus. As the square script is more easily read worldwide, this was chosen rather than the Samaritan script. All three issues have been debated by scholars over the years, but to the present reviewer the decisions made by Schorch and the team are wise. The manuscripts from the 12th to the 14th centuries better reflect the Samaritan text than later manuscripts, some of which were produced on demand. A diplomatic edition better shows the Samaritan text type than an eclectic procedure, and the Samaritan characters can be transcribed into square script without any loss of information. The two script systems have completely corresponding sets of signs.
Scholars might want a synopsis of the SP and the Masoretic text, and this is not offered here. For this undertaking one can turn to one or more of three existing synopses: Abraham Tal and Moshe Florentin, The Pentateuch: The Samaritan Version and the Masoretic Version, Tel Aviv: University Press 2010. Here, the text of Shechem ms. 6 is used, as in Tal’s SP edition. Abraham and Ratzon Sadaqa, ḥmšh ḥwmšy twrh/Jewish Version Samaritan Version of the Pentateuch with particular stress on the differences between both Texts [sic], Jerusalem: Ruben Mas 1962–1965 (no information on the manuscript basis). Mark Shoulson, The Torah: Jewish and Samaritan Versions Compared: A side-by-side comparison of the two versions with the differences highlighted, Co. Mhaigh Eo, Ireland: Evertype 2008. Shoulson uses Tal’s edition and the Leningrad Codex as text bases. In all three synopses textual minuses and pluses are visualized by open spaces, and differences are highlighted.
For the text of SP, Schorch’s œuvre will be the standard edition. The Leviticus volume gives an impression of what the procedure is. It contains an introduction in German, English, and Hebrew, succinctly describing the modus operandi and its background. Five apparatuses under the text provide the following information: apparatus 1: variant consonantal text in the other 23 manuscripts; apparatus 2: readings in the Samaritan Targum and the Samaritan Arabic translations; apparatus 3: textual parallels in the Qumran scrolls, in the Septuagint and in the Peshiṭṭa; apparatus 4: notations in the manuscripts referring to vocalization or contentious details; apparatus 5: punctuation marks. For each text section the manuscript basis is presented in the form of sigla, and variants from the Samaritan reading tradition are provided in the inner margin of the text.
Through this edition we now can peruse the SP with its roots in the Qumran texts and with its connections to parallel texts out-side the SP. Most of all, it shows the Samaritans’ Holy Script in its Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic traditions. This Editio Maior is a superb instrument for everyone to become acquainted with the fascinating world of the Samaritan Pentateuch.