Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Text of Micah

I don't dabble much in Old Testament Textual Criticism--mostly because I don't know anything about it (except for Wurstein's The Text of the Old Testament which I read 15 years ago and don't remember anything I read.

OT text criticism is a different world altogether from NT textual criticism. Bruce Waltke, an evangelical Old Testament exegete, built his scholarly career after establishing himself as an Old Testament text critic. He did his Harvard PhD on the Samaritan Pentateuch. I studied under him, but never took any of his text criticism classes (same with Fee!).

I'm reading Waltke's commentary on Micah currently. Fantastic read. He lays out some basic text critical data. In the New Testament, we have 5500+ Greek manuscripts and about 15,000+ manuscripts of ancient versions. Nearly every verse of the New Testament shows some variation (mostly minor, but many major) in the tradition.

The situation is completely different in the Old Testament. For Micah, we get the Masoretic text letter for letter from a manuscript called the Leningrad Codex--it is rather late--dating to 1010 A.D. Hebrew manuscripts of Micah prior to this are few and far between. However, found in one of the Dead Sea Scroll caves (Cave 5) was a scroll of Micah now known as Mur 88 or Mur XII. It was written about the time of the Second Jewish Revolt (132 A.D.). Incredibly, as Waltke points out, "[It is] virtually identical with the [Masoretic text = Leningrad Codex = BHS]; its nine [!!!] variants from the 1600 words of [Micah] are incidental." Waltke then lists them--all of which are nothing but minutiae (sometimes less than a jot or tittle).

The other ancient sources which attest to the text of Micah are:
  1. 23 fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls cache, known as 1QpMic
  2. A disputed number of fragments which comprise the Dead Sea Scrolls document 4QpMic or 4Q168.
  3. Ancient citations of Micah in the Zadokite Documents
  4. Septuagint (the Greek translation of Micah--but the text form is different from Masoretic text type)
  5. A Greek translation--Kaige-Theodotian--closer to the Masoretic text type
  6. Aquila's Greek translation (c. 130 AD)--even closer to the Masoretic text
  7. Syriac
  8. Old Latin
  9. Latin Vulgate
  10. Aramaic targums

As can be surmised, our attestation for Micah is extremely thin compared to any New Testament writing--although the Dead Sea Scrolls date earlier than any of our New Testament manuscripts. But what is amazing is how well preserved the Masoretic text is when compared between the 130 A.D. Qumran manuscript and the 11th century Codex Leningrad.

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