04 October 2012

Qumran, Isaiah, and Stern

Introduction

This post is a follow-up to Qumran, Isaiah, and the NJPS, answering a question posed there by Rabbi Stein himself. How has Qumran influenced Stern's translation of the Isaiah haftarot that appear in the URJ chumash (TAMC)?

Executive summary

Stern and NJPS both note a Qumran variant of 40.6 but do not let it influence their body texts.

Stern and NJPS seem to ignore the Qumran variant of 49.24, "tyrant". But, neither do they cling close to the literal meaning of the Masoretic here, "the just". They both opt for "victor."

Stern's Isaiah body text seems to be influenced by Qumran in 51.19 and 60.19, though this influence is not noted. The NJPS body text is influenced by Qumran only in 60.19, but both places are noted.

The Details

Isaiah 40.6

Stern and NJPS both note a Qumran variant of 40.6 but do not let it influence their body texts.

NJPS page 698 Stern (TAMC) page 1223
A voice rings out: “Proclaim!”
Another asks, “What shall I proclaim?”
“All flesh is grass,
All its goodness like flowers of the field"
A voice rings out, “Announce!”
Another asks, “What shall I announce?”
“All flesh is grass,
and all its grace like a flower in the field"
[footnote:] 1QIs-a and Septuagint read “And I asked.” [footnote:] Or, vocalizing differently, following the text of an Isaiah manuscript discovered at the Dead Sea, as well as the Septuagint: "And I ask."

Isaiah 49.24

Stern and NJPS seem to ignore the Qumran variant of 49.24, "tyrant". But, neither do they cling close to the literal meaning of the Masoretic here, "the just". They both opt for "victor."

Because of that point of interest, and because it is a verse for which Qumran has influenced many other translations, I include it here.

NJPS page 725 Stern (TAMC) page 1252
Can spoil be taken from a warrior,
Or captives retrieved from a victor?
Can spoil be taken away from a warrior?
Can a victor's captives escape?
[no footnote] [no footnote]

"The just" comes from the Masoretic tsaddiq (צדיק). (If you and/or your browser are Hebrew impaired, the letters are tsadi, dalet, yod, and qof.)

"Tyrant" comes from the Qumran arits (עריץ). (If you and/or your browser are Hebrew impaired, the letters are ayin, resh, yod, and tsadi-sofit.)

Here's what Scanlin has to say about it (p. 131). (Note that his transliteration of עריץ is `ryts.)

The phrase "captives of the just" in the second half of 49:24 is somewhat awkward in this context. The NIV, RSV/NRSV, NEB/REB, and NAB all follow the 1QIsa-a reading `ryts (tyrant/ruthless), citing the manuscript evidence from Qumran. GNB also translates "tyrant" without a textual note, since GNB does not cite textual variants that have the support of at least one Hebrew manuscript. HOTTP recommends that translations follow the Qumran reading.

[NIV: New International Version]
[(N|)RSV: (New |)Revised Standard Version]
[(N|R)EB: (New|Revised) English Bible]
[NAB: New American Bible]
[GNB: Good News Bible]
[HOTTP: Hebrew Old Testament Text Project]

Isaiah 51.19

NJPS notes a possible variant in "several ancient versions", whereas Stern seems to accept this variant without note.

NJPS page 730 Stern (TAMC) page 1317
These two things have befallen you:
Wrack and ruin—who can console you?
Famine and sword—how shall I comfort you?
These two things have befallen you:
devastation, destruction—who will console you?
famine and sword—who can comfort you?
[footnote:] Several ancient versions render "who can." [no footnote]

Here's what Scanlin has to say about it (p. 131-132).

This verse ends in the MT with the question, "How can I comfort you?" In 1QIsa-a the word for comfort begins with the letter yod instead of aleph (third person instead of first). The NAB, NIV, RSV/NRSV, and NEB/REB all follow the Qumran reading, although HOTTP believes the MT should be followed in translation and considers the 1QIsa-a reading an assimilation to the third person verb used earlier in the verse. There is no compelling reason to doubt that in the prophetic style, God would be speaking in the second half of the verse. The acceptance by most modern translations of this Qumran variant illustrates how an evaluation of manuscript evidence can be combined with a decision regarding literary appropriateness. This has been the traditional approach of translators when dealing with textual problems. A new trend, as exemplified by HOTTP, tends to evaluate variants such as found in 1QIsa-a here, as just as likely to be the result of an ancient scribe adjusting the text in response to some perceived difficulty. Accordingly, modern translators would be advised to be a bit more cautious in accepting textual variants of this type.

[MT: Masoretic Text]
[NAB: New American Bible]
[NIV: New International Version]
[(N|)RSV: (New |)Revised Standard Version]
[(N|R)EB: (New|Revised) English Bible]
[HOTTP: Hebrew Old Testament Text Project]

Isaiah 60.19

Stern makes pretty much the same bracketed addition as NJPS, but does not note any sources for it. One could even imagine making this clarifying addition without influence from ancient sources, but I doubt this was the case with Stern.

NJPS page 748 Stern (TAMC) page 1370
No longer shall you need the sun
For light by day,
Nor the shining of the moon
For radiance [by night];
For the LORD shall be your light everlasting,
Your God shall be your glory.
No more shall the sun be your light by day,
nor shall the moon's glow brighten [your night];
the Eternal will be your everlasting light,
and your God [will be] your glory.
[footnote:] So 1QIs-a, Septuagint, and Targum. [no footnote]

Here's what Scanlin (p. 132) has to say about it. (I assume blylh is the transliteration of בלילה. (If you and/or your browser are Hebrew impaired, the letters are bet, lamed, yod, lamed, and he.))

The NJV and RSV/NRSV follow the addition of blylh [] "in the night" in 1QIsa-a. As in several other cases such as 53:11, this Qumran addition gives the parallelism of the verse better balance. However, one must be cautious about accepting readings that could have been motivated by the scribe's sensitivity to Hebrew poetic style. This is why HOTTP does not advise translators to follow 1QIsa-a here, even though many modern translations do.

[NJV: New Jewish Version (NJPS)]
[(N|)RSV: (New |)Revised Standard Version]
[HOTTP: Hebrew Old Testament Text Project]

Conclusion

Like NJPS, Stern's Isaiah shows Qumran influences.

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