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Third edition of Emanuel Tov’s Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible

October 12, 2011

tchbThe third edition (marked “revised and expanded”) of Emanuel Tov’s classic Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (hardcover, Fortress Press, Amazon price $56.70) is now out, and I just received my copy moments ago. 

As most readers of the blog probably know, Tov is the J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible at Hebrew University and also the Editor in Chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project.

Unlike the rather disappointing minimal changes to the second edition, it appears that the changes to this edition are extensive. 

The preface to this new volume begins:

This edition, the third in English, is formally a sequel to the second edition (2002).  However, in many ways, it is a rewriting of the first edition (1992) since, in preparation of the second edition, I needed to limit myself to the existing camera-ready page format, thereby not permitting extensive omissions or additions.  Thus, for the present edition, I covered two turbulent decades of research in an area that is developing very rapidly.  When reviewing the literature of these twenty years, I was amazed by the number of studies written on each of the areas covered by the umbrella term “textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible.”  The many studies quoted in this book that date between 2005 and 2011 bear witness to this abundance.  The study of Greek Scripture is a prime example of the advancement in learning.  During these two decades, the publication of the biblical Judean Desert scrolls has been completed and their impact is felt in almost every chapter of Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.  The description of the scrolls (ch. 21C) has been greatly enriched and, equally important, the status of the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Septuagint is now much clearer in the wake of the new discoversies.  the newly found scrolls also greatly enriched the description of the technical aspects of the textual transmission in ch. 4B, necessitating a complete rewriting.

At the same time, I also had to cover two decennia of my own evolving views on large and small matters.  I can safely say that no stone was left unturned.  Even if the book appears to resemble the previous editions due to only slightly modified tables, a closer perusal of the text will reveal many changes in every paragraph, including their expansion or even deletion, as well as completely novel sections, and, in one case, a new chapter.  Six plates were altered, while most have been improved.  The larger scope of this edition is not immediately obvious as many sections are presented in a smaller font. 

Some obvious changes include a new glossary (words are marked in the text), a new didactic guide, major overhauls especially to chapters 2, 3, and 9, (chapter 9 on “Scholarly and non-Scholarly Editions” in particular has grown from 9 to 35 pages) and a new chapter 10 on “Computer-Aided Tools for Textual Criticism.”

The text overall seems to have decreased its focus on the Masoretic text in several places, and increased its coverage of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, and Samaritan texts.

All-in-all, it looks like this standard handbook has been greatly improved, and I am looking forward to reading it cover-to-cover.

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