Now, which of you took a look at the title of this post and said, “that sounds like a revetting topic of study?” Me neither. The first half of the article was excruciatingly boring and difficult to follow. Granted, this could have been due to the fact that all I had to eat this morning/afternoon was a bowl of soup, some mac and cheese, sour patch kids, and m&ms, oh yeah, I was also lying down. After I woke up and the vestiges of sleep slowly faded into lucidity, I found the article quite fascinating.
Kristin de Troyer wastes no time in introducing her reader to the striking differences between the LXX and MT’s (Masoretic Text) version of Joshua 10:15, 23, and 43. Although there are other differences between the two texts, the one of central concern for her purposes is the omission of verses 15 and 43 from the OG (Old Greek). Within the MT these two verses report Joshua and Israel’s movements back to Gilgal after two major battles.
On the surface it would appear as if this makes the MT reading the more difficult of the two. See, Joshua would have to travel out from Gilgal into battle, returned to Gilgal, then travelled out to Makeda in search of the five kings only to return back to Gilgal. This is a lot of movement within a short period of time, whereas the Greek “omissions” would have allowed Joshua to travel from one location to the next.
de Troyer proposes two solutions to the problem of Joshua 10: 1) the translator acted with a free hand and eliminated perceived difficulties, 2) the Vorlage (the text behind the translation) did not have verses 15 and 43. It is unlikely that the translator acted freely as he/she consistently translated Gilgal in all other instances. It is more likely, according to de Troyer, that a different Hebrew text lay behind the OG.
But what about the fact that the OG reading seems to be the easier reading? de Troyer finally shows her hand. Upon further analysis the structure of the Hebrew text reveals that the presence of Gilgal in these two verses further supports the literary structure of the book as a whole. In these two instances Gilgal serves as a marker for the conclusion of the first battle and the last battle in a series.
Pretty straightforward right? Why I am so interested in the article? It raises a question in my mind, unknown/intended by the article itself. Which reading is to be preferred? Wait. Didn’t you say that the OG reading, the older reading, doesn’t support the presence of these two verses? Well, yes. There has been a great deal of attention garnered from those of the compositional approach to the Old Testament. These additions to the MT seem to be the result of a redactor’s final touches on the text, which scholars such as Sailhamer, if I have understood him appropriately, would not necessarily discredit as the inspired work of the Spirit working through the redactor. After all, we are taught to read the book of the Twelve prophets as if their canonical arrangement lends to some meaning, i.e. Jonah is to be interpreted in light of the threat of God’s forthcoming wrath to be executed against Israel if they do not repent (a theme throughout the Twelve). The union of the Twelve through authorial intent (both human and divine) is oft accepted by the scholarly community.
So, in other words, did the Spirit inspire the redacted or non-redacted text?
Which text is to be preferred?