Studies in the Bible and Jewish Thought

By Moshe Greenberg | Go to book overview

The Use of the Ancient Versions for Interpreting the Hebrew Text: A Sampling from Ezekiel 2:1-3:11
1978

I feel honored by the invitation of our President, Professor Walther Zimmerli, to deliver a paper to this learned audience. I wish to acknowledge this feeling at the outset because the argument I shall put forward, though critical of much that is being done in textual work today, is yet one that only colleagues in scholarly training and endeavor can judge; the opportunity of presenting it to such an audience is therefore precious to me. Since my argument originated in work on a commentary to the Book of Ezekiel, I wish further to acknowledge my special debt to Professor Zimmerli for his monumental contribution to the understanding of every facet of that difficult book. If I seem to be directing an inordinate measure of criticism at Zimmerli, it is only that no one else since Cornill has stated his reasoning in textcritical and exegetical matters in comparable detail. Through his careful justification of his decisions, it is possible to study the axioms of Old Testament criticism at large. If I believe that in some matters I can move beyond the point reached by the present consensus, it is only because I have started from the advance positions won by the patient and erudite labors of such predecessors.

Modern scholarly interpretation of Ezekiel 1 -- as of all biblical books -- works with a text restored as far as possible to the form of "the lost original"; as Eichrodt writes, "Exegetical work during the last few decades...displays increasing certainty in penetrating to the original text..." (p. 11). The method of restoration has been to collate the ancient versions -- among which G(reek) has chief importance -- with the

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