Rewriting the Sacred Text

By Kristin De Troyer | Go to book overview

Conclusions

The four chapters of this book illustrate four different ways in which the biblical text grew. I dealt with the Septuagint text of Esther in Chapter I, and I demonstrated how the Greek Septuagint can be seen as a rewritten Hebrew text. The Greek translator of the Hebrew book of Esther not only translated but also rewrote the sacred Hebrew text. The Old Greek text of Joshua was the subject of our investigation in the second chapter. The Old Greek text of Joshua reflects what the Hebrew text of Joshua looked like in its penultimate, pre-Masoretic stage. The Hebrew text of Joshua—more precisely the Masoretic text, the one printed in most Bibles—can thus be seen as a late rewritten version of an older text that is “visible” through the Old Greek. The Masoretic text is thus a rewritten sacred text. Rewriting also happens once a book has been translated into Greek. Precisely this type of rewriting was studied in the third chapter. The AT of Esther proves to be a rewritten Greek sacred text. Finally, in the fourth chapter, we examined the ways in which the Greek text of lEsdras offers an insight into how the Hebrew text of Ezra-Nehemiah was once rewritten and turned into an alternative story to the Hebrew text itself. The Greek text 1 Esdras is the only witness to the now lost Hebrew-Aramaic rewritten text. In these four chapters I hope to have demonstrated that the process of rewriting sacred text is one important insight that can be gleaned from studying Old Greek biblical texts.

The biblical books dealt with in this study are Esther, Joshua, and lEsdras. Rewriting not only happens in apocryphal books and pseudepigrapha but also in so-called “core” books of the Hebrew Bible like Joshua. The process of rewriting happens with all sorts of biblical texts, and it happens continually. This process is widely recognized in Hebrew Bible scholarship, as I have pointed out in the introduction of this book. Witnesses to the Hebrew text, like the Old Greek biblical texts, should, however, be studied together with the Hebrew Masoretic Text. The study of the witnesses can no longer be dissociated from the study of the literary development of the Hebrew Bible. In other words, literary criticism and redaction criticism should take into account the results of a renewed text criticism.

The four chapters of this book are intended as examples of how to combine a renewed text criticism with literary and redaction criticism. They

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