Critical Notes The Primitive Book Of Tobit An Essay in Textual Reconstruction -- By: Hugh G. Bevenot

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 083:329 (Jan 1926)
Article: Critical Notes The Primitive Book Of Tobit An Essay in Textual Reconstruction
Author: Hugh G. Bevenot

Critical Notes The Primitive Book Of Tobit
An Essay in Textual Reconstruction

Hugh G. Bevenot

Weingaeten Abbey, Germany


The very popularity enjoyed by the Book of Tobit in Jewish circles has militated against its being handed down to us in its integrity. It is not even certain whether the original text was in Hebrew or Aramaic. Hence any attempt to reconstruct the story as it left the hand of its Jewish author must be made with due comparison of the very various versions sentence by sentence and phrase by phrase, and it commends itself to clothe our resulting text in a neutral garb—that of the English language.

Matter is abundantly supplied in Walton’s London Polyglotte; in Vigouroux’ “La Bible Polyglotte” (Vol. III, Paris, 1902, giving the main Greek recensions conveniently in parallel columns); in Dr. Charles’ “Oxford Apocrypha,” 1913), which has a translation of the Greek Sinai recension and a critical synopsis of the variants; in Neubauer’s edition of the Aramaic, “The Book of Tobit,” a Chaldee text from unique Mss. in Bodleian, and English transl. and Itala (Oxford, 1878); in Gaster’s two Hebrew texts (London, 1897); and in Schulte’s “Beitraege zur Erklaerung u. Textkritik des Buches Tobias (Freiburg-in-Br., 1914). Forty pages of the last mentioned work are devoted to a critical comparison of the recensions, followed by a German translation of Codex Vaticanus and the main variants.

As to method, I may say briefly that I took it for granted that the Greek Sinai text best represents the original. This is the opinion of Reusch, Noeldeke, Nestle, Dr. Rendall Harris, and Schüurer. Rev. D. C. Simpson has ably summarized “the overwhelming evidence in favor of the priority of the Sinai text” in his article, “The Chief Re-

censions of the Book of Tobit” (Journal of Theol. Studies, Vol. 14, pp. 516-530, 1913). This text is nevertheless far from perfect. Professor St. George Scott rightly observes “the Sinai text is fuller, except in chap. IV, and more intelligible; it is also more Semitic than B (i.e., the version represented by the Vatic, and Alex. Codices). The two must have behind them a common original, for they throw light upon one another, and the full meaning of a passage is sometimes to be got only from a combination of both. The fulness of the Sinai text often runs into superfluities, which are retrenched in B” (Brit. Encyclop., “TOBIT”). The Sinai text is indeed longer, but not therefore necessarily later. We may instance the Aramaic fragments of the Achikar Story (circ. 400 B. C.; found at Elephantine). more diffuse than the later Syr...

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