A Lesson In Textual Criticism As Learned From A Comparison Of Akkadian And Hebrew Textual Variants -- By: Elmer B. Smick

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 10:2 (Spring 1967)
Article: A Lesson In Textual Criticism As Learned From A Comparison Of Akkadian And Hebrew Textual Variants
Author: Elmer B. Smick


A Lesson In Textual Criticism As Learned From A
Comparison Of Akkadian And
Hebrew Textual Variants

Elmer B. Smick, Ph.D.

Cuneiform texts provide us with the rare advantage of vowel representation which in duplicate texts renders significant information on textual criticism. Moreover the cuneiform duplicates frequently come from the same period in which the text originated, perhaps from the same hands. Multiplied generations of copyists and families of MSS are not a part of the picture. Sennacerib’s Annals, for example, confront us with variants which throw an interesting light on O.T. textual criticism. I propose to introduce the results of a cataloging of the types of variants used in the duplicate accounts of Sennacerib’s campaigns. Not every variant but a sampling of the types will be compared with the variants in that most significant piece of parallel literature in the O.T., Psalm 18 and II Sam. 22. Free use was made of Luckenbill’s critical apparatus in his book, The Annals of Sennacerib, and abbreviations for or the duplicates follow his system. Also constant reference was made to Cross and Freedman’s article, “A Royal Song of Thanksgiving, “II Sam. 22Psalm 18, ” Vol. 72, JBL. Hereinafter S stands for II Sam. 22 and P for Psalm 18.

A common variant in the resensions of Sennacerib’s Annals are those of the graphic type where the cuneiform orthography allowed for words to be written differently but pronounced the same.

Graphic Variants (H2 = Oriental Inst. Prism, etc. See Luckenbill)

  1. Choice of śigns with the same phonetic value. H2 1:17

The text H1 has s̆u whereas text H2 has s̆ú, while in a nearby line H1 has s̆u where H2 uses s̆ú. Hence the complete arbitrariness of such graphic variants where one cannot even assume that a scribe had a preference in his use of a given sign. This is by far the most common type of variant in these texts.

2. Use of determinatives. H2 1:10

H2 has ʿḪar-sag-kalam-ma

H1 omits “city determinative” and adds “the post determinative ki, to indicate place.

  1. Choice of logograms...
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