The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible

By Eugene Ulrich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
The Relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
for Hexaplaric Studies

The Hexapla is a rich testament to the textual diversity of the Hebrew Bible and its Greek forms in the second and third centuries C.E. Origen, in order to produce a reliable basis for disputation,1 but with high dividends for textcritical purposes, attempted to bring the Greek text of his day into conformity with the Hebrew text. His noble purpose, however, produced results that proved as problematic as they were rewarding. The variant Greek traditions were not aberrant paraphrases in need of correction back toward the Hebrew, but faithful translations of variant Hebrew texts that were unknown to Origen. That is, Origen began with the incorrect assumption of a single Hebrew form of the biblical text, with the result that most who used his work, instead of being led closer to the original “Translation of the Seventy,” with every step in this regard were led farther away from the text that was his goal.2

Despite those unfortunate ramifications, the Hexapla was the largest

1. See S. Brock, “Origen’s Aims as a Textual Critic of the Old Testament,” in Papers Presented to the Fifth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held in Oxford 1967 (ed. F. L. Cross; Studia Patristica 10; Texte und Untersuchungen 102; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1970) 215-18, reprinted in Studies in the Septuagint: Origins, Recensions, and Interpretation (ed. S. Jellicoe and H. M. Orlinsky; New York: Ktav, 1974) 343-46.

2. D. Barthélemy judges Origen’s results on the transmission history of the Greek Bible to be “catastrophique”; see his “Origène et le texte de l’Ancien Testament,” in Epektasis: Mélanges patristiques offerts au Cardinal Jean Daniélou (Paris: Beauchesne, 1972) 247-61, reprinted in D. Barthélemy, Études d’histoire du texte de l’Ancien Testament (OBO 21; Fribourg: Éditions Universitaires, 1978) 203-17.

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