Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel

By Michael Fishbane | Go to book overview

3 Pious Revisions and Theological Addenda

A Scribal Corrections

Along with the scholarly annotations of textual obscurities which arose in the long course of study and transmission, tendentious corrections are also in evidence in the Hebrew Bible. Such corrections arose as an antidote to original words or expressions which appeared to be impious or improper to later scribes and readers. As a result, words, letters, and syntax were variously manipulated. Traditions regarding such intentional scribal corrections go back to antiquity. It is a phenomenon attested both among the Alexandrian grammarians and copyists, and in contemporary rabbinic sources. 1 However, because both early and later Jewish sources list different numbers of such changes, 2 because the employed terms—

'euphemism' and 'correction'—are so divergent in their implications, and because of the inconclusiveness of the ancient versions, the reliability of this tradition has been recurrently denied. 3 A new turn in the discussion has been offered by S. Lieberman. He accepted the veracity of the tradition on comparative and innertextual grounds, and argued that the diverse terminology actually

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