Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

Diplomatic or eclectic critical editions of the Hebrew Bible? Considering a third alternative

Gert T.M. Prinsloo
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a7813 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7813 | © 2022 Gert T.M. Prinsloo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2022 | Published: 17 October 2022

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Gert T.M. Prinsloo, Department of Ancient and Modern Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Ever since the publication of the third edition of Rudolph Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (BHK3) to the present gradual production of the Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ) so-called editiones criticae minores of the Hebrew Bible are diplomatic editions. The Codex Leningradensis, dating from 1008/9 CE, is used as the base text, and the Biblia Hebraica text editors note significant variants in other Hebrew manuscripts and/or the ancient versions in eclectic fashion in a text-critical apparatus. The Hebrew University Bible Project (HUPB) also publishes a diplomatic text based on the Codex Aleppo but with a more detailed text-critical apparatus. The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition (HBCE) follows a different route, traditionally more familiar in the production of critical editions of the Septuagint and New Testament, namely to publish an eclectic edition. The text editors produce a theoretical, reconstructed text of what they regard as the ‘correct’ reading after careful consideration and weighing of variants in all available textual witnesses. I argue that critical editions of the Hebrew at the disposal of Hebrew Bible scholars, whether based on a diplomatic or eclectic text, have two inherent weaknesses, namely eclecticism and lack of context. Taken together, these shortcomings might be classified as subjectivism. I propose at least considering the alternative of a synoptic text-critical approach beyond the diplomatic-eclectic dichotomy.

Contribution: This research critically reviews the current diplomatic/eclectic approaches in the production of scholarly Hebrew Bibles and proposes at least considering a third alternative, namely a synoptic approach


Keywords

textual criticism; Masoretic Text; diplomatic edition; eclectic edition; Synoptic edition; text-critical apparatus; Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia; Biblia Hebraica Quinta; Hebrew University Bible Project; Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition.

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