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orion-list 4Q448

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One of the most important lessons of Emanuel Tov's 1992 _Textual
Criticism of the Hebrew Bible_ is that the general reliability of a
textual tradition is not too relevant in evaluating the superiority or
inferiority of individual textual variants.  E.g. the fact that the
Massoretic text is overall a better text, on text-critical grounds,
than many other textual traditions is of little or no weight in 
considering any specific MT reading superior to another text's 
reading in any individual case of a variant.  Each variant must be 
evaluated, and decided, case by case.  So it is with letter readings
and the scholars who propose them.

Furthermore (and this is empirical, and I doubt would be disputed 
by any experienced Qumran text editor) no one scholar has 100%
accuracy in published letter readings over the long term.  It is true 
that scholars like Puech in particular, also Yardeni, come pretty 
close to 100% accuracy (citing these two as in my opinion among
the best sets of eyes in Qumran textual work today).  But the 
process of correcting mistaken readings of earlier publications,
when they are discovered, is continuous.  And there is no basis 
in any of this discussion for characterizing a disagreement with a 
reading as a slur on either the motives or the abilities of the 
individual scholar.  It is entirely an issue of attempting to arrive
at the truth in a shared quest (or it should be).

In the case of 4Q448 all arguments that the "Jonathan" 
hymn of column B can be read as anti-Jonathan assume the 
reading of Yardeni that the first word of B1 is Ayin-Yod-Resh.
The argument is that this can be read, "Rise up, O Holy One 
(God), against Jonathan the king . . ."  There are syntactic 
parallels supporting this translation.  But the prior premise 
required for any argument of this nature is that the reading 
itself of "rise up" with Ayin at the start of B1 must be correct.  
If there is no reading of Ayin, there is no "rise up against".

In fact I have found that reading to be incorrect, although it 
takes a microscope to see it.  The correct reading is that of 
Eisenman and Wise 1992, Shin-Yod-Resh.  Under microscope
of the Brill microfiche negatives PAM 41.720 and 43.545 the 
bottom tip of the Shin starting B1 can be seen just to the right
of the top of the Lamed from below.  What has caused the error 
of the Ayin reading at the start of B1 is that the first letter of B2 
looks about the same, and the first letter of B2 can only be an 
Ayin.  But this is an optical illusion of sorts, for what has happened 
is a defacing has removed not only the middle of most of the 
Shin of B1, but has also nicked off the tops of the two Ayin arms 
below (of the Ayin starting B2).  If the remains starting B1 are 
compared with the other, undefaced Ayins in columns B and C this 
becomes clearer.  For the shape and position of the defaced 
letter of B1 as Shin compare with the Shin in B7.  At B1 the tops 
of the two left arms of the Shin are visible as well as the tip 
of the bottom of the Shin.  Unfortunately the reading is so difficult 
that it does take a microscope (and not simply a printed 
photograph or a microfiche reader) to confirm this point.  But this 
is my report on the level of eyes and description alone--it is a Shin 
and it is not ambíguous.

As a separate and distinct issue the Shin is wholly expected
in this position.  If there were nothing of the three letters visible
for the first word of B1 a large number of biblical Hebrew parallels 
would give an expectation that "song", Shin-Yod-Resh, would be
restored in this position.  (The examples of this are so many
there is no need to cite here--see BDB on "ShYR".)  The letter
remains give a completely routine type of sentence giving the
title of the hymn: "Sacred song for Jonathan the king and all
the congregation of your people Israel who are in the four winds
of heaven".

I agree that if the reading of the first letter of B1--the reading of 
Eshel, Eshel & Yardeni 1992, and also independently Harrington/
Strugnell 1993 and Puech 1996--is indeed Ayin, then there would 
be some room for argument on whether the hymn is pro-Jonathan
or anti-Jonathan.  But the reading with Shin, "ShYR", is (a) correct 
on letter-reading grounds; (b) expected on formal considerations; 
(c) called for in agreement with the Waw connecting the second 
part of the clause (it is a nonsensical reading to have God rise up 
against Jonathan _and Israel_--and it requires what seems like 
special pleading to render that any differently); and (d) there is no 
demonstrated reason on context grounds, or in any other Qumran 
text, to suppose "king Jonathan" would not be regarded favorably
in 4Q448.  (As I have noted before, 4QpNah explicitly condemns 
the enemies of Alexander Jannaeus, rather than identifying with 
those enemies.)

But the real issue is the reading of the first letter of B1--there 
is no other prior issue.  Is Martinez listening?  Do you have a
microscope and can take a look and say what you see?  (Or
alternatively the FARMS very-high-resolution image for 4Q448?)

To repeat, the claim is that the reading is not equivocal but
rather is certainly a Shin, "song", and that the hymn is 
therefore unambiguously pro-Jonathan.  If the reading is
actually Shin then there is no issue of any other reading 
of the hymn than pro-Jonathan.  And if it is accepted that 
"Jonathan the king" is Alexander Jannaeus then this text is 
an explicit and unambiguous pro-Jannaeus text.  For those 
who see an objection in the "wicked priest" polemics
in the Qumran "yachad" texts, I can only observe that there
is no evidence that the number of wicked Israelite priestly 
ruling regimes in the Qumran "yachad" texts exceeds one.  
There is no point in talking about the Wicked Priest maybe 
being Jannaeus without setting forth some specific reason as
to why one would suppose this to be the case.  In any case, 
that has no bearing on the issue of the reading and rendering
of the lines of 4Q448.

Greg Doudna
For private reply, e-mail to Greg Doudna <gd@teol.ku.dk>
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