Textual Growth in Isaiah 40:7-8? (Part 1)

This series of posts may be too ambitious for a blog, but I hope to present some of the key issues and the scholars involved with this textual problem and the other significant textual problems in Isaiah generally. I will present the texts in this post and the two theories used to explain the textual situation. In a second post, I will present the interpretation of Eugene Ulrich, “The Developmental Composition of the Book of Isaiah: Light from 1QIsaa on Additions in the MT,” Dead Sea Discoveries 8,3 (2001): 288-305. In a third post, I want to convey some of the main ideas in a recent article by Drew Longacre, “Developmental Stage, Scribal Lapse, or Physical Defect? 1QIsaa’s Damaged Exemplar for Isaiah Chapters 34-66,” Dead Sea Discoveries 20 (2013): 17-50. In a fourth post, I will offer my own conclusion to this textual problem. These texts are the most relevant to this problem but I will comment on all of the evidence in post four.

MT:  יָבֵ֤שׁ חָצִיר֙ נָ֣בֵֽל צִ֔יץ כִּ֛י ר֥וּחַ יְהוָ֖ה נָ֣שְׁבָה בֹּ֑ו אָכֵ֥ן חָצִ֖יר הָעָֽם ׃יָבֵ֥שׁ חָצִ֖יר נָ֣בֵֽל צִ֑יץ וּדְבַר־אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יָק֥וּם לְעֹולָֽם׃ ס. The text in red is what is under consideration.

NRSV: The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.

LXX: ἐξηράνθη ὁ χόρτος, καὶ τὸ ἄνθος ἐξέπεσεν, […] τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

NETS: The grass has withered, and the flower has fallen, […] but the word of our God remains forever.

1QIsaa: יבשׁ חציר נבל ציצ כי רוח ֑֑֑֑ נשׁבה בוא הכן חציר העם יבשׁ חציל נבל ציצ ודבר אלהינו יקום לעולם. The text in red represents a later addition to this text, perhaps written in a different handwriting by a later scribe. I provide the image from the manuscript (see here for the whole digital scroll).


As one can see, the Masoretic text is longer than the text of the LXX. Furthermore, 1QIsaa has an interesting and perhaps a mixed text. The image above shows that originally 1QIsaa had a shorter text similar to the LXX and that another hand added the longer reading of MT above the line and then continued the longer text down the left margin.

In order to describe this text and the factors involved one needs a theory which can explain these kinds of problems. Currently, the two theories on this problem and others like them are (1) 1QIsaa represents the shorter original and MT represents a growing and expanding text of Isaiah and (2) 1QIsaa and LXX represent a text that became shorter by a scribal error during the transmission of the longer text. In addition to a theory, one also needs an understanding of the character of these textual witnesses in order to describe the factors involved. For example, (1) would need to show that 1QIsaa usually has a shorter text than MT and the reason for MT’s longer text is due to intentional scribal additions. (2) would need to show that an unintentional scribal error is probable in 1QIsaa and would have to supply an equally probable solution for the rest of the shorter texts in that manuscript. In other words, a global knowledge of the textual character of 1QIsaa combined with a theory of its transmission is prerequisite to deciding between the two theories.

As we unpack this problem, I want to keep an eye on the theory which most simply explains the difference between these texts. Both theories are plausible from the outset, but which one will offer the simpler solution in the final analysis?

Update to καίγε in Joel 2:29 and Acts 2:18

I have made an update to the post καίγε in Joel 2:29 and Acts 2:18, which interacts briefly with Steve Runge’s comments on Acts 2:18.

I post the Update here as well:

UPDATE: Brian Davidson informed me that Steve Runge wrote a paper on Joel 3:1-5 in Acts 2. Steve gives a great discussion of the Hebrew discourse function of גם and the Greek discourse function of γε. The particles גם and γε disambiguate the intended function of the following prepositional phrases marking the fullest extent to which the outpouring of the Spirit will be experienced. The LXX is ambiguous with καί only, but γε in Acts 2:18 indicates that the fronting of the prepositional phrases is emphatic and not contrastive. Excellent analysis of the grammar. What Steve does not mention (not the intention of this paper) is the καίγε tradition, which probably influences Acts 2:18. Before Acts 2, the Jews were already revising גם/וגם with καίγε where the OG had only καί. Therefore, καί γε is not an adaptation on the part of Luke (Steve does not actually suggest this from what I read), rather Luke received a text with καίγε in all probability.

Let’s keep the discussion going.

καίγε in Joel 2:29 and Acts 2:18

Blogging has been a low priority for me this past year since my transition to Phoenix last summer. My first year of teaching at Phoenix Seminary was both challenging and satisfying. Currently I am teaching a course on the Septuagint, Readings in the Septuagint, and in my preparation I came across an interesting piece in Joel 2:29.

As I was reading Joseph Ziegler’s apparatus for the Duodecim Prophetae for Joel 2:29, I found a curious variant. I provide the first part of the Hebrew, LXX, and NT followed by the apparatus for LXX:

HT: וְגַ֥ם עַל־הָֽעֲבָדִ֖ים

LXX: καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς δούλους

NT: καί γε ἐπὶ τοὺς δούλους

καί 1° W* B-S*-V L-36 C-68 AchSa] + γε rel. = Act. 2:18.

No doubt Ziegler has determined the original text in this instance and perhaps Acts 2:18 influenced the rest of the Greek manuscript tradition with the addition of γε. Acts 2:18 is the earliest witness to this variant but it probably did not introduce this reading into the textual transmission. Where did γε come from? We now have enough evidence, especially for the Twelve Prophets, that shows that the Jews were revising the (O)ld (G)reek to a text closer to the proto-Masoretic Text long before the time of Jesus and the NT. One of the characteristics, indeed the characteristic after which the tradition became named, was the revision of the translation of וגם/גם with καίγε (sometimes two words καί γε) where OG had simple καί. This characteristic and the general tradition was brought to its pinnacle in the revision of Aquila. The most significant piece of evidence for the tradition comes from the Nahal Hever Scroll of the 12 Prophets dated to the middle of the 1st century BCE.

One can see that the use of καίγε brings the Greek text into greater quantitative alignment with the Hebrew source, for now גם has an equivalent in the Greek text.

What is intriguing to me in this example and others like it is that the NT has a reading which in all probability goes back to the καίγε tradition of the 1st century BCE and therefore a reading in close alignment with the proto-MT.

It is very intriguing to me that at times they cite what is close to the OG (even when it departs from the proto-MT) and at other times they cite what is closer to καίγε or Theodotion (a prominent member of the former tradition; see here). Did the NT authors have a choice between texts or did they simply use what they had at their disposal? This is an open question in my mind and I invite you to list your opinions in the comments.

UPDATE: Brian Davidson informed me that Steve Runge wrote a paper on Joel 3:1-5 in Acts 2. Steve gives a great discussion of the Hebrew discourse function of גם and the Greek discourse function of γε. The particles גם and γε disambiguate the intended function of the following prepositional phrases marking the fullest extent to which the outpouring of the Spirit will be experienced. The LXX is ambiguous with καί only, but γε in Acts 2:18 indicates that the fronting of the prepositional phrases is emphatic and not contrastive. Excellent analysis of the grammar. What Steve does not mention (not the intention of this paper) is the καίγε tradition, which probably influences Acts 2:18. Before Acts 2, the Jews were already revising גם/וגם with καίγε where the OG had only καί.

The Three and the New Testament

I have been thinking about ways in which the Three (Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion) provide an extra layer of Jewish Greek background for the study of the New Testament. There may not be direct influence of the Three on the NT authors, although, if Theodotion is first century, then his influence may be more direct than the others. What may be more plausible to claim is that the Jewish readings, which find their culmination in the Three, may have influenced the NT authors. The following is one example.

In 1 Cor. 15:54 Paul cites a version of Isaiah 25:8a: κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος, but it is not the LXX. The LXX reads: κατέπιεν ὁ θάνατος ἰσχύσας, which is not a very close translation of the Hebrew. Paul’s citation, therefore, is not from the LXX. Is this an ad hoc rendering of the Hebrew Bible on Paul’s part? I think not, for Paul’s text aligns with what we now know to be Theodotion’s version. Theodotion read the Hebrew verb (vocalized as a Piel in the MT) as a Pual (was swallowed) and he translated לָנֶצַח (“forever” in biblical Hebrew) with εἰς νῖκος (“in victory”; cp. Job 36:7 et al). For the latter translation, Theodotion has read the Hebrew with the Aramaic meaning “victory” as he does in many places. There is great discussion about the dating of Theodotion. I am persuaded that he worked in the first century, despite some patristic testimony which places him at the end of the second century. His translation technique fits the typology of translation/revision activity during 1 BC- AD 1. Also, Jerome comments that he lived after the time of Jesus, which may place him earlier than other testimonies. Furthermore, how do these texts, which are attributed to him, find their way into the NT, if he did not live at this time? Some want to posit Ur-Theodotion or Proto-Theodotion. It is time to place a moratorium on these categorizations and work within a context of historical Theodotion in the first century.

Back to Paul. The word “victory” is rhetorically important for Paul here, since he is talking about Jesus’ victory over death in the resurrection and therefore the church’s victory through Jesus Christ. The Hebrew Bible and LXX also have generally mean YHWH’s victory, but they are not as clear as the Theodotion version. Paul’s choice of this text is deliberate, for it uses the catch word νῖκος, which in turn becomes the ultimate meaning of the resurrection: victory over death. In this case, the doctrine of the NT has benefited from the revision of the LXX accomplished by Theodotion. Hopefully, in weeks to come I will be commenting on a couple of other cases, which are not as clear as this one, but which may still be important for this topic.

Ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ, Septuagintalism in Ephesians 1:6?

I have been thinking about the whole matter of Septuagintalisms in the NT, and in Sunday School we are studying Ephesians. Basically, my thesis is that in Ephesians 1:6, Paul uses ὁ ἠγαπημένος, “the Beloved,” a term to describe Israel in the Hebrew Bible and even more clearly in the LXX, to echo or signal to the readers that Christ is the New Israel and consequently the Gentile believers are the New Israel since they have been chosen in him. The post concludes by returning to the question of whether ὁ ἠγαπημένος is a Septuagintalism or whether the LXX is the primary influence on Paul in this case.

The Context of Ephesians 1:6

The text says:

Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ,

4 καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ,

5 προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ,

6 εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ.

The church was blessed in Christ, chosen in Him, predestined through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace which he gave us in the Beloved.

In Greek, the discourse resumes with relative clauses down to the end of verse 14, which perhaps marks 3-6 as a unit, which is the paragraph scheme used in the NA 27. Within this unit, it is clear that the expressions ἐν Χριστῷ and ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ are in parallel with each other, since the former is at the end of the first line indicating the location of all the spiritual blessings, while the latter is at the end of the final line indicating the location of the glorious grace given to us.  The intervening lines use pronouns referring back to the first line and treat the topics of election and predestination. We will return to the significance of this parallelism later.

The latter term τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ is a PfPPtc DMS from ἀγαπάω, and it is used as a substantive with the meaning “the one having been loved” or “the beloved.” In Greek there are at least two other ways of communicating this concept: 1)use of the -τος adjective αγαπητος, which of course is how Paul addresses Christians in a number of places (e.g. Eph. 5:1 “beloved children”; 6:21) and how Matthew describes Jesus at his baptism and his transfiguration (This is my beloved Son; Matt. 3:17; 17:5); 2) the use of a simple relative clause with an active verb (e.g. “the son, whom he loved” cp. Is 3:25).

The PfPPtc is used in two ways in the LXX: 1) places where it renders Hebrew words for “love” or “beloved” including references to Israel and references to individuals in Israel’s history, and 2) places where it renders Hebrew Yeshurun, which is an unexpected translation as we shall see.

References to Israel

II Suppl (Chr) 20:7 – καὶ ἔδωκας αὐτὴν σπέρματι Αβρααμ τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ σου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. The participle modifies either the seed of Abraham or Abraham himself (i.e. Israel or Abraham)

Judith 9:4 – a reference to υἱων ἠγαπημένων ὑπὸ σοῦ: sons beloved by you (the LORD)

Hosea 2:23(25) – The variant to the OG equals Rom 9:25 (see Ziegler’s Edition)

Isaiah 5:1 – a clear reference to Israel as beloved

Isaiah 5:7 – “the man of Judah is a beloved young plant”

Jeremiah 11:15

Jeremiah 12:7 – God gives my beloved soul into the hands of her enemies

Baruch 3:37 – Israel who was beloved by him (God)

III Macc 6:11 – the beloved as a reference to the Jews

References to individuals

Deut 21:15-16 – in reference to a beloved wife in contrast to a hated one in case law

Deut 33:12 – Tribe of Benjamin

II Reigns (II Samuel) 1:23 – Saul and Jonathan are called beloved

2 Esdras 23:26 (Neh 13:26) – Solomon is called “beloved to God.”

Sirach 24:11 – reference to the beloved city in the A line and Jerusalem is the city mentioned in the B line.

Sirach 45:1 – a reference to Moses as beloved by God and men

Sirach 46:13 – a reference to Samuel as beloved by the LORD

LXX Da 3:35 – Abraham beloved by you (God)

It is clear that this participle refers either to Israel or to individuals in both canonical and deutero-canonical works. In all of the canonical examples, the Greek word is rendering the following Hebrew words: yadid, yadiduth, ‘ahab, sha’ashu’im, which means the Greek translations were  predictable in these instances and cannot be used to establish theologizing on the part of the translators, since it is difficult to discern what is the theology of the Hebrew Bible and what is the theology of the translators. These references, however, are not the only relevant ones in our corpus. The LXX translators also translated Yeshurun with this participle.

References to Yeshurun as Beloved by the LXX Translators

Deut 32:15

וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט שָׁמַנְתָּ עָבִיתָ כָּשִׂיתָ וַיִּטֹּשׁ אֱלֹוהַ עָשָׂהוּ וַיְנַבֵּל צוּר יְשֻׁעָתֹו׃

καὶ ἔφαγεν Ιακωβ καὶ ἐνεπλήσθη, καὶ ἀπελάκτισεν ὁ ἠγαπημένος, ἐλιπάνθη, ἐπαχύνθη, ἐπλατύνθη· καὶ ἐγκατέλιπεν θεὸν τὸν ποιήσαντα αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπέστη ἀπὸ θεοῦ σωτῆρος αὐτοῦ.

Deut 33:5, 26

וַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶלֶךְ בְּהִתְאַסֵּף רָאשֵׁי עָם יַחַד שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ ἄρχων συναχθέντων ἀρχόντων λαῶν ἅμα φυλαῖς Ισραηλ.

אֵין כָּאֵל יְשֻׁרוּן רֹכֵב שָׁמַיִם בְעֶזְרֶךָ וּבְגַאֲוָתֹו שְׁחָקִים׃

Οὐκ ἔστιν ὥσπερ ὁ θεὸς τοῦ ἠγαπημένου· ὁ ἐπιβαίνων ἐπὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν βοηθός σου καὶ ὁ μεγαλοπρεπὴς τοῦ στερεώματος.

Isaiah 44:2

כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה עֹשֶׂךָ וְיֹצֶרְךָ מִבֶּטֶן יַעְזְרֶךָּ אַל־תִּירָא עַבְדִּי יַעֲקֹב וִישֻׁרוּן בָּחַרְתִּי בֹו׃

οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας σε καὶ ὁ πλάσας σε ἐκ κοιλίας Ἔτι βοηθηθήσῃ, μὴ φοβοῦ, παῖς μου Ιακωβ καὶ ὁ ἠγαπημένος Ισραηλ, ὃν ἐξελεξάμην·

A few comments are in order. First, the translation of the LXX is not a straightforward “literal” translation of Yeshurun as the work of the Three Jewish Revisers shows in Deut. 32:15 (α΄ εύθύτατος “very straight”; σ΄θ΄ ὁ εὐθής “the straight one” (cp. τῳ εύθει in Deut. 33:5); contrast ο΄ ὁ ἠγαπημένος). Second, there is no possibility of scribal error in this situation, and thus the translators seem to diverge from the plain sense of their Vorlage for theologizing purposes. Their contextual rendering of the proper name still maintains the title of honor for Israel, but it focuses on God’s love for them in election (Deut 7:8 et al.). Third, the Isaiah translator is probably dependent on the work of the Deut. translator, who preceded him. LXX-Is also provides a doublet for Yeshurun when he translates it ὁ ἠγαπημένος Ισραηλ, “The Beloved Israel.” It is also important to note the theme of the election of Israel (Jacob) (ἐκλεγομαι) in Isaiah 44:1-4, which is also present in Ephesians 1:3-6.

Paul’s Use of the LXX in Ephesians 1:3-6

This analysis leads to the following conclusions in Ephesians.

1) ὁ ἠγαπημένος is used of both individuals in Israel’s history and of Israel herself. Since Deut translates Yeshurun (a title for Israel) with this form, it cannot be dismissed that this book begins the pattern for the following books, both canonical and deutero-canonical that refer to Israel as God’s Beloved. In fact Deut most probably does set the trajectory. As was noted earlier, LXX-Is combined Beloved and Election of Israel together and Paul seems to be influenced by this connection.

2) Paul is capitalizing on the term’s original meaning in the LXX. The term refers corporately to Israel and to individuals within Israel.  Paul places it in parallelism with ἐν Χριστῳ in Eph 1:3, indicating that it refers to an individual and the family of the Messiah. Primarily, via the parallelism Paul communicates that Christ is the Beloved or the New Israel. Also, the terms Χριστω and ηγαπημενος are used as incorporating (ἐν) terms. Regarding the former, N.T. Wright says, “I suggest, in other words, that Paul uses ‘Christ’ here as a shorthand way of referring to that unity and completeness, and mutual participation, which belongs to the church that is found ‘in Christ’, that is, in fact, the people of the Messiah” (Climax of the Covenant, 54; cf. 46).

3) Regarding the latter, the term was originally intended to be a title for God’s people or individual Israelites, and it denoted God’s love for them, but now Paul applies it to Jesus. This conclusion, of course, is consonant with Matthew in 3:17 and 17:5, where Jesus is called “my beloved Son.” Matthew has already made clear that Jesus is the new Israel on a new exodus from his use of the OT in chapter 2 (e.g. “Out of Egypt I have called my Son.”).

4) Εν Χριστω and εν τω ηγαπημενω, therefore, denote the people of God or the New Israel incorporated into Christ. Frank Thielman concludes, “It seems likely, therefore, that when Paul calls Jesus, “the Beloved” in this passage he has in mind Jesus’s embodiment within himself of the beloved and elect people of God” (2010; 54).

What is astounding about this observation, of course, is the overall context. Paul is commenting on the status of Gentile churches and he is saying that they are elect in Christ, that is, incorporated into the people of God, for whom the Messiah stands. By being incorporated into Christ, the Gentiles have become members of the people of God. In Christ, Israel’s history has become ours. We have truly been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Gen 12:1-3?) through identification with the people of God, who is Christ.


Returning to the original question of whether τω ηγαπημενω constitutes a Septuagintalism, it is too difficult to know whether Paul has in mind specifically the Yeshurun texts,which would almost certainly indicate that it is, but that is not the present concern. The question is whether the LXX is the fundamental contextual influence on Paul in this text and others. The Hebrew Bible certainly preserves Israel as the beloved, but clearly the LXX (280 BC and post) in both the canonical and deutero-canonical books went beyond the Hebrew Bible in at least four cases surveyed in this post. I want to suggest that this example cannot be used as a foundational piece of evidence for Paul’s use of the LXX, but it may be a corroborative piece of evidence to a larger portfolio of Paul’s use of the OT. The LXX provides a bridge from Hebrew OT to the NT in this case, since Paul’s argument may firmly stand on the Hebrew Bible and be further strengthened by appealing to the Greek OT.

Comments on “Multiple Originals” by Gary D. Martin (part 1)

[Caveat: the following is not a review since I am not attempting to summarize the book. I’m simply recording some of the more salient points in the book and I hope to interact with them.]

Multiple Originals: New Approaches to Hebrew Bible Textual Criticism by Gary D. Martin (SBL, 2010) is one of the most recent monographs treating methodologies of text criticism of the Hebrew Bible. As the title suggests, Martin does not find the search for the Urtext or original text of the Hebrew Bible as the proper goal of text criticism. He concludes chapter one, “In Search of the Original,” with a paragraph containing massive implications:

In recent years, at both scholarly conventions and in published works on textual issues of the Hebrew Bible and its versions, the term “fluidity” has become a household expression. To what extent are the texts fluid, and what does one do with such a preponderance of fluid texts? These questions have become the current focus for textual critics of the Hebrew Bible. There is much work to do in moving forward with the mass of new textual data at our disposal. Scholars are increasingly less inclined to look to the past for answers. If a trifaria varietas ever existed, it is no longer evident, and is therefore no longer a useful model for the analysis of extant manuscripts. Perhaps, however, the earliest testimony [Letter of Aristeas, Prologue to Sirach] I have examined in regard to the state of our texts, taken at face value, tell us that the situation we face now is as they described it then. Aristeas said manuscripts had been “carelessly copied” [ἀμελέστερον σεσήμανται Arist. 30-31a] and Ben Sirach was concerned that translations often miss the sense of the original. Removing the pejorative adverb “carelessly,” the implication is that there were a variety of biblical Hebrew texts in circulation. Aristeas sees that as a problem to be resolved. For the most part, modern textual critics agree, although their numbers are diminishing.

It seems to me that although Aristeas acknowledges that Hebrew mss have been copied carelessly so that in his day there were differing texts, he also acknowledges that this resulted from “carelessness” in transcription, not multiple originals. Martin has a difficult way forward if he is to show that the texts of the Hebrew Bible resulted from anything more than carelessness or translation technique deviating from the original text (difficult to define, but I favor the final canonical form of the text for my definition. See here and here for my view of the closed canon.). I doubt “multiple originals” can account for the evidence with the simplest explanation, but I will continue to give Martin a fair reading.

I will interact next with his chapter 4, “Split Visual-Aural/Oral Tradition in the Song of Songs,” which will occupy a couple of posts at least.