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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Observations on Early Papyri and MSS for LXX/OG Study

This is by Robert A. Kraft

""Some Observations on Early Papyri and MSS for LXX/OG
by Robert A. Kraft (University of Pennsylvania)
pre-Constantinian Developments of LXX/OG in Light of Early Papyri and Related
Texts" [alternate title]

For the conference on "The Bible as Book: The
Transmission of the Greek Text" (Hampton Court, Herefordshire ENG; 27-30 May

My interest in this subject is nearly as old as my own
wissenschaftlich career. When it came to choosing a subject for my Harvard
dissertation some 40 years ago, I was torn between analyzing the pre-Hexaplaric
fragments of Greek Jewish scriptures, and the topic I finally selected, the use
of Jewish sources in the Epistle of Barnabas. My Doktor-Vater, Krister Stendahl,
encouraged me towards the latter since he felt that it could receive better
direction at that time than the LXX/OG topic. He also recommended me for my
first full-time teaching job, at the University of Manchester, since he thought
I might find there the archives from the Brooke-McLean- Thackeray-Manson "larger
Cambridge Septuagint" project to nourish that side of my developing interests. I
found no such archives.

Meanwhile, however, I had compiled a loose-leaf
notebook with as much information as I could gather on the earliest LXX/OG
fragments, arranged book by book in order of the current canonical sequence, and
when Bas Van Elderen offered me this assignment, it seemed like a good
opportunity to reacquaint myself with some old fragmentary friends.

Gathering the Raw Data. -- My first impulse was to create a computer
file of the materials of which I had been aware 40 years ago, which I hastened
to do, and then to rearrange those materials in roughly chronological order --
based on the well known vagrancies of available paleographical estimations.

I then turned to the main tools of which I was aware that had appeared
since about 1959, that could help me supplement the list --

Kurt Treu's
1973 Kairos article on

"The Significance of Greek for Jews in the Roman
Empire," with its appendix on possibly Jewish biblical fragments,

van Haelst's 1976 Catalog of Jewish and Christian Papyri,

Eric Turner's
1977 The Typology of the Early Codex,

Colin Roberts' 1977 Schweich
Lectures on Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt (published

and the new editions of individual Greek texts, especially by
John Wevers in the Goettingen series.

Initially, I spread a wide net,
attempting to catch everything prior to the success of Christianity under
Constantine, and thus listing all papyri and related materials in Greek dated to
the 4th century ce and earlier. As I said, it was a wide net, and it caught
about 120 separate items (not all of them papyri), including a dozen that are
dated to the first century ce or earlier and are almost certainly certifiably
Jewish in origin. Of the 2nd - 4th century ce fragments, another half dozen have
been claimed as Jewish by one or another of the respected authorities.
Unanimity, of course, is difficult to obtain in this sort of Wissenschaft.

The textual work of Origen (c 185-253) in producing the multi-columned
tool for studying and improving the extant text of Jewish scriptures in his day
is usually viewed as a watershed in the study of the development of the Greek
Christian "OT" manuscripts. Not only does Origen's "Hexapla" (in its various
forms and formats) offer information about the Greek and Hebrew- Aramaic texts
available to him in the first part of the third century, but to the extent that
his endeavor to improve existing LXX/OG texts was successful, his work became a
major factor in complicating the subsequent textual situation. In the two or
three generations immediately following Origen, we also hear of extensive
"recensional" work attributed to the now-mysterious persons of Hesychius and

With this in mind, the quest for texts not affected by these
well-intentioned efforts becomes important to the student of the development of
Greek Jewish scriptures -- the LXX/OG and related materials. One way of
approaching the problem is to try to identify texts and readings that do not
show influence from Origen's "Hexapla," or other roughly contemporary
recensional developments, and use that as a criterion for identifying presumably
earlier materials. The textual apparatuses of the best available LXX/OG editions
are filled with relevant information about such textual affinities.

Another approach, to which this report attempts to contribute, is to use
chronological considerations for isolating materials that could not have been
influenced by the work of these early critics because the materials predate the
period when the 3rd and early 4th century products would have begun to cast
their shadows. Manuscripts and fragments that predate the early third century
are obviously the most significant in this regard, but any items that can
reasonably be considered pre-Constantinian (early 4th century) have an excellent
chance of being "uncontaminated" for these purposes.

The Manuscript

There are various convenient lists and collections from which
to gather these early witnesses to the development of LXX/OG. A new one was
released on CD-ROM in August 1998 by Willy Clarisse at the papyrological
congress in Florence. Otherwise, to my knowledge, the most complete is the
catalog by Joseph van Haelst, which appeared in 1976. Van Haelst includes
appendices in which he lists Jewish and Christian materials by date, from
earliest to latest, and also provides statistics for what he has listed, roughly
generation by generation (early 2nd century, 2nd c in general, late 2nd c,
2nd/3rd c, etc.). Around the same time, the respected papyrologist Eric G.
Turner produced his study of the development of the Early Codex, which also
provides similar chronological lists of all codices known to him. Finally, still
from the late 1970s, the Schweich Lectures by Colin Roberts also in their own
way survey much of the relevant material, partly in response to Kurt Treu's list
of possibly Jewish fragments from his 1973 article (see the appendix). I've put
those lists together in what follows, and have tried to adjust the controversial
datings towards Turner's judgment, on the belief that an experienced
paleographer looking at the entire range of materials in a comparative way is
more likely to be accurate than are individual editors who have seen only parts
of the picture. Of course, paleographical judgments remain subject to
modification, and are at best approximations based on certain assumptions about
consistency, development, etc.

In the following list, which is arranged
in roughly chronological order (according to paleographical estimations), the
Jewish and possibly Jewish fragments (including some unidentified early pieces)
and marked with *. Items are presented with the Goettingen number in brackets,
when known, followed by the van Haelst number (vh###). Generous assistance in
locating some of the fragments has been received from Matthew Hamilton, Moore
Theological College Library, 1 King St Newtown NSW 2042 Australia
[], and is gratefully acknowledged. See also
Emanuel Tov's article in the Pietersma Festschrift (2001) mentioned in my draft
linked below.

===[*summary section on fragments discussed in the article
-- images of most of these can be found linked from the article.

4QLXXDeut [#819] (2nd bce, parchment roll, Dt 11)
2. PRyl 458 [#957 = vh057]
(2nd bce, papyrus roll, Dt 23-28)
3. 7QLXXEx [#805 = vh038] (2nd/1st bce,
papyrus roll, Ex 28)
4. 4QLXXLev\a [#801 = vh049] (2nd/1st bce, parchment
roll, Lev 26)
5. 7QLXX EpJer [#804 = vh312] (2nd/1st bce, papyrus roll,
5+. Qumran cave 7 has produced several other Greek fragments
have not yet been identified convincingly. In general, many of
seem to be bilinear and showing serifs. No attempt is made
to include them
in the current listing, although in some ways
they are also of relevance as
attesting Jewish literary activity."

for the rest of his paper, go to his website:



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