Monday, June 13, 2011

Text and Translation Note: 1 Samuel 13:15

The issue:

The issue here is a significant addition in the LXX and Vulgate of this verse that does not appear in the traditional Hebrew text. Many modern translations include this expansion in their translations despite the fact that it is recorded in no extant Hebrew manuscripts.

A comparison of translations demonstrates the issue:

Translations based on traditional text:

Geneva 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel arose, and got him up from Gilgal in Gibeah of Benjamin: and Saul numbered the people that were found with him, about six hundred men.

KJV 1 Samuel 13:15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.

NKJV 1 Samuel 13:15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men.

Translations generally based on the modern critical text but which follow the traditional text in 1 Samuel 13:15:

RSV: 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel arose, and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

NIV 1 Samuel 13:15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.

NASB 1 Samuel 13:15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

Translations which depart from the traditional Hebrew text by including the LXX expansion (emphasis added):

NEB 1 Samuel 13:15: Samuel left Gilgal, without more ado and went on his way. The rest of the people followed Saul, as he moved from Gilgal towards the enemy. At Gibeah of Benjamin he mustered the people who were with him; they were six hundred men.

Jerusalem Bible: 1 Samuel 13:15: Samuel then rose and left Gilgal to continue his journey. Those of the people who remained followed Saul as he went from Gilgal to Geba of Benjamin.

NRSV: 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal. The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal toward Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

ESV: 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

An ESV note explains: “Septuagint; Hebrew lacks The rest of the people … from Gilgal.”

Evaluation:

It is sometimes suggested that the major Biblical textual issues are confined to the NT. Here, however, we see a significant question about the proper text of the OT. Is the Hebrew MT authoritative? Some modern scholars and translators have clearly decided that the proper text here is preserved in the LXX and has no extant Hebrew witness. One may not be surprised by the addition of such a conjectural reading in liberal translations like the NEB and the NRSV or in a Roman Catholic translation like the Jerusalem Bible (given that the expanded reading is also reflected in the Vulgate). The surprise is that this reading is including the evangelical ESV (departing even from the RSV upon which it is based). When a similar conjectural reading occurs in Psalm 145:13b, the reading is, at the least, included in brackets. Here it appears as part of the text with no brackets and an explanatory footnote. Again, it is ironic that many modern critical text advocates howl at the inclusion of passages like the comma johanneum (1 John 5:7b-8a with weak external attestation) in Reformation era translations, but they are then content to include conjectural readings like this one in 1 Samuel 13:15 (and Psalm 145:13b) which are not recorded in any Hebrew manuscript.

JTR

2 comments:

Charles May said...

It is interesting to note that Psalm 145:13b in the Dead Sea Scrolls follows the LXX and not the MT.
Unfortunately, 1 Samuel chapter 13 is missing from the DSS.

Pastor Jeff said...

Thanks for this observation Charles. My question would be whether or not the LXX was based on a Hebrew ms. trying to make sense of the broken acrostic in Ps 145 or trying to "improve" the sense of 1 Sam 13.