Monday, October 24, 2011
Text Note on 1 Samuel 17
I preached yesterday on the David and Goliath narrative in 1 Samuel 17. Dale Ralph Davis makes the following remarks on the text of 1 Samuel 17:
"There is a major debate about the text of 1 Samuel 17 (-18). The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, ca. 200 B. C.) does not have verses 12-31, 41, 50, 55-58 as in most English versions, which follow the traditional Hebrew text (called the Masoretic text). (LXX also omits 18:1-5.) If one reads the story as LXX has it one finds a flowing, consistent account free from the tension and apparent inconsistencies of the MT. That is why I suspect the LXX here; it is too neat…." (1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart, p. 180, n. 1).
Comment: Davis’ note here indicates that in 1 Samuel 17, at least, the tendency of the LXX is to harmonize what it takes as difficulties in the MT. He even insists: “My own preference for MT in chapter 17 is no symptom of conservative paranoia” (Ibid). Indeed, Davis does not always support the traditional (i.e., MT) text of the Hebrew Bible. Despite this disclaimer, Davis’ point should raise questions about the reliability of the LXX in other places and the modern text critical tendency to prefer reconstructions based on the authority of the LXX (e.g., as in Psalm 145:13).