More on Idolatry, but Not Really…

Roland Boer was kind enough to take the time to respond to my thoughts on his initial post about the critique of idolatry in Isaiah.  I do want to respond to his new post, but I really don’t have time today.  So for the moment let me just say that Roland’s response is basically the reason why I like the blogosphere and engage with other people in this virtual space.  This is an instance where a well-known and established author and scholar has taken the time to engage in discussion with a second year doctoral student. And it’s not like I’m Boer’s student or anything.  We don’t even live on the same continent.  Additionally, his response is measured and considerate, which it certainly needn’t have been (being a scholar and being impolite are, unfortunately, not mutually exclusive).  I still don’t really know how blogging fits in with my broader academic life, but at least one of the reasons that I like it so much is that I get to engage in discussions with exceptional minds.  So, thanks for the response Dr. Boer, I’ll give it a think.

A Nice Development…

Well here’s a nice little development.  It turns out I’m going to be going to SBL after all.  I’d resigned myself some time ago to missing the annual meeting in New Orleans, but due to a happy turn of events, and some help from a number of different parties (a thousand thanks to all of them), I get to head on down to the Big Easy for a few days come November.  The one bummer is that I don’t get to do the full lecture and translation time for Intermediate Hebrew for that Tuesday (I TA for the class), but that’s a concession I can live with.  And I imagine the IH students will be happy to have the day off as well.

Now I have to set about the task of deciding which sessions I want to attend.  Too bad I’m way too late for the biblioblogger’s dinner, but I guess I’ll just have to find some other way to meet some of my online acquaintances in person.  In any case, if you’re gonna be at SBL I hope to see you there.  And if you see an average sized guy (read here, a kinda short guy) with glasses, a very likable disposition, and a name-tag that says “Colin Toffelmire,” please stop me and say hi.

Oh Right, Mid-Term…

I haven’t had a post in a while due to school work and editing responsibilities, so today was the first time I’ve checked in on the old blog in a few days.  I took a quick look at the graph that displays my hits per day and for some weird reason yesterday had this huge spike.  Huh?  I haven’t even been posting.  Oh wait, tomorrow’s the Intermediate Hebrew mid-term.  And IH students have the address for my Hebrew Stuff page, where I keep links to vocab and paradigm drills.  Now I get it.  And yes, my average daily hits are so low that I do notice a couple of dozen people all of sudden checking out the site on a given day.  Ah well.

Also, Roland Boer has made the move over to WordPress, so update your links accordingly.  And just in case he reads this, you still owe me a response about idolatry in Isaiah, Boer (shakes fist warningly).

Isaiah again…

Still working with Isaiah 53, trying to think through all of the text critical problems that the text presents.  Isaiah 53:2 presents a classic text critical problem:

In all of the extant witnesses to the Greek tradition of Isaiah 53:2 opens with:

ἀνηγγείλαμεν ἐναντίον αὐτοῦ ὡς παιδίον*

which one might render roughly as “We have reported before (or against?) him as a child.”  Compare this to the MT:

וַיַּ֨עַל כַּיּוֹנֵ֜ק לְפָנָ֗יו וְכַשֹּׁ֙רֶשׁ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ צִיָּ֔ה

which one might render roughly as “And he went up like a shoot/branch before him.”  (Note the NASB follows MT alone here and throughout Isa 53).**

Joseph Ziegler, who edited the Göttingen LXX volume for Isaiah has a fairly lengthy discussion in his intro regarding this problem (second half of p. 99).  He suggests that the text be emmended here to read ἀνατεῖλeι μεν ἐναντίον αὐτοῦ ὡς παιδίον.  The trouble is, this is nowhere attested by manuscripts, versions, or tradition (i.e. quotations).  But, as he suggests in this discussion, there is considerable internal evidence in Isaiah where both ἀνατεῖλeι and ἀνηγγείλαμεν are attested and the preferable reading is ἀνατεῖλeι.  He points to Isa 42:9, 43:19, 45:8, and 47:13, as examples of this preference for ἀνατεῖλeι.

This stands, however, against the general preference in text criticism for the more difficult reading.  The more difficult reading is preferred because it is easy to see how one might emend the text to make it more sensible or to make it follow a more commonly found pattern or collocation.  Of course, the preference for a more difficult reading doesn’t extend to readings that are incomprehensible garbage, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.  Tov (in his LXX/MT parallel) has no explanation for the Greek variant apart from an alternative text tradition.  So both Ziegler and the NASB are countermanding one of the standard principles of text criticism.

What seems most likely to me is that the LXX represents a different Vorlage (that is, a different underlying Hebrew tradition) than the Massoretic tradition.  I don’t even have a guess at which Vorlage, the MT or LXX, is the more original reading in this case.  I just can’t see a clear reason why either text would produce the other.  Any suggestions?

* Sorry, having trouble with my Greek fonts.

**Just in case anybody’s curious, both 1QIsa a and b follow Codex Leningrad in this case, as does Aleppo.

Re: Play-date…

Let me begin with this – no, I’m not making this up.

A friend of mine got a memo today.  She got it from another parent in the neighborhood, and it was written to invite her child to a play-date with a friend from school.  It was an honest to goodness paper memo, with a subject line and contact info, information about pets and allergies, and times and dates and everything.  The only thing missing was the automated Outlook meeting scheduler.

When I was a kid this wasn’t how you scheduled a play-date.  Well, first off, we didn’t have play-dates, we just played.  And if I wanted to play with a friend I either called him and said “Hey, wanna play?” or went across the street and knocked on his door and said, “Hey, wanna play?”  My parents didn’t write memos.

This is what a Hallidayan linguist would call register confusion.  Register is Michael Halladay’s way of describing the constellation of linguistic features that attach themselves to particular social situations.  Say you’re at the till at the grocery store.  There are a finite number of things that you can say in that social situation that the clerk won’t find odd or confusing or totally meaningless.  You can say how many bags you’d like, you can decline their polite request to help you out to your car, you can give two dollars to the charity the store is sponsoring.  All of that works just fine.  You can’t confess your undying love for the stranger running the till, or ask politely about his/her thoughts on Benjamin Disraeli, or talk about your deep-seated emotional issues with your mother.  Well you can, but you’re gonna get a funny look.  You would only do those things if you’d confused the linguistic register that was in operation at the time.

I call the play-date memo register confusion because the person who wrote it apparently thought that you use the same language when interacting with your neighbors as you do interacting with other department heads at the office.

Just to be clear, you don’t.  Well, you can, but you’re gonna get a funny look.


Ran across the so-called “Conservative Bible” in a post on Jim’s blog.  I went and had a quick look, and though it is clearly as ridiculous as Jim says I don’t think that Jim’s commentator Mark Begemann is correct when he suggests that the CB and its parent site Conservapedia are hoaxes.  I wish they were, but they sure look serious.  Not serious in the sense of something we should pay any attention to whatsoever, but serious in the sense that the site designers and maintainers clearly take themselves rather seriously.  My favorite find on Conservapedia thus far?  The following quote from the “How We Differ from Wikipedia” page (number 16):

We do not encourage anti-intellectual editor names that are attracted to Wikipedia. For example, the Wikipedia administrator who initially deleted the entry about Conservapedia uses the name “Nearly Headless Nick.” The Hartford Courant observed that another editor posted under the name “The Ostrich.” These names send an inappropriate anti-intellectual message for an encyclopedia.

Really?  I mean, really?  Anti-intellectual?  Really?!  Incredulity is the only response I can manage at the moment.