Current Trends In Old Testament Textual Criticism -- By: Paul D. Wegner

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 23:4 (NA 2013)
Article: Current Trends In Old Testament Textual Criticism
Author: Paul D. Wegner


Current Trends In Old Testament Textual Criticism

Paul D. Wegner

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

There are some exciting trends currently underway in OT textual criticism. The purpose of this article is both to summarize these trends and to suggest a way forward in a few cases. Three areas that will be addressed in this article are (1) the formation of the Hebrew text, (2) the goal of OT textual criticism, and (3) a diplomatic Hebrew text versus an eclectic Hebrew text. The Hebrew text of the OT has an amazing heritage that is well worth tracing through the process of textual criticism.

Key Words: OT textual criticism, current trends, Masoretic Text, Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls, goal, aim, diplomatic, eclectic

Until about 60 years ago, very little was known about the Hebrew text prior to A.D. 800—among the few works that could help to shed light were the Samaritan Pentateuch [SP], the Septuagint [LXX], and the Nash Papyrus. Since then the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls provided a great number of manuscripts dated between about 250 B.C. and A.D. 100; this and other finds have opened up whole new avenues of research for today’s scholars. These documents have also led to the questioning of older theories and the development of new theories as to how the text was developed. In this article, I would like to highlight briefly three of the most important current trends in OT textual criticism: (1) the formation of the Hebrew text; (2) the goal of OT textual criticism; and (3) a diplomatic Hebrew text versus an eclectic Hebrew text. This overview is intended to acquaint readers new to the field of OT textual criticism with current trends, as well as to provide a few significant steps forward for those already at work in the field.

The Formation Of The Hebrew Text

The issues of OT canon and the Hebrew text are intricately related with, at times, a very fine line between when a text achieved its final literary form and when the process of transmission of the text began. It is not crucial for our purposes to determine an exact date when the OT canon was complete,

Table 1. Theories of Hebrew Development

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