The form and function of 4QJudga as a witness to degenerative scribal and copyist activity. Doctoral Dissertation on the 8th of June 2004 at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. Koot van Wyk


The research focuses on the fragment of Judges found in cave four at Qumran. Trebolle Barrera has published it in full but in this research some aspects of the form of this document are investigated again. Trebolle Barrera found that the Vetus Latina and Lucian traditions appear to be the closest to the fragment and concluded that this fragment may point to the survival of the Old Greek, which predates the time of Origen 230 CE. The fragment is also shorter than the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition. Therefore, it was decided, with strong direction from Prof. John Lübbe, that scribal activities in the sources should be analysed to see what could be learnt from scribes and copyists in the Qumran material. The research of Malachi Martin (1958) was utilized for this purpose and other probes were undertaken, namely the condition of manuscripts, scribal activities and copyist activities at the libraries of Alexandria in the Ptolemaic period, with the help of the research of P. M. Fraser (1972). The research was further broadened to investigate cases of book burning, library robberies, library building activities, censorship and other activities that may explain the purpose of hiding books in caves. In this regard it was found that hiding and availability of good exemplars are connected and that dictation was almost the only method of copying. The role of dictation as outlined by T. Skeat (1956) was also investigated. The process and mechanics of making a book were investigated, with the research of Clement (1995) and others. With the above data as background material, it was possible to place 4QJudga in some form of context in the Ptolemaic times. 4QJudga may therefore be viewed as part of trends that were identified in those times in and around Palestine. With a better understanding of scribes, copyists and bookmaking processes, as explained by the ancient Greek and Latin authors cited in the endnotes, the focus then fell on the relation of the variants in 4QJudga to the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition and a wider discussion of variants in the versions of the same pericope.

The methodology was to consider all versions from the angle of scribes, copyists and notebooks. The sources were: the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition, codex Aleppo, medieval Hebrew manuscripts with annotations by De Rossi, Targum Jonathan, the Septuagint edition of Brooke-MacLean, the Syro-Hexapla by Field (1875), Coptic texts and fragments, and Syriac and Latin texts in three forms: Vetus Latina of codex Lugdunensis, the Vetus Latina of Lucifer of Cagliari and the Vulgate of Jerome. As far as possible all the versions were retroverted to a simulated Hebrew text and variants were then compared on that level.

The endnotes and the appendix contribute as a source for the reader to consult the fuller readings of the witnesses. The sources are presented in the appendix with comments and notes.

The conclusions, within the framework of the limitation of 4QJudga, are tentatively as follows: 4QJudga follows in essence the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition but variants originated due to the fact that copying was done not by direct consultation but by dictation. This fact accounts for many other variants in the versions as well. Copying was done in the case of 4QJudga from a degenerated exemplar perhaps in the form of a notebook with supra-linear corrections so that the order of certain words was confused or words were omitted. On the basis of 4QTestimonia and other witnesses from cave four, we assert that the scribe of 4QJudga intended to cite two passages from two close but different pericopes, and placed them side by side omitting on purpose another pericope that connected these two pericopes. We identified 4QJudga as a para-biblical text and not a biblical text. As far as variants in the version are concerned, we found that a literal Aramaic text in the second century CE may have been the cause of some variants in 4QJudga and that a notebook with misreadings and corrections in supra-linear position, subsequently copied, was the basis of the Syriac and Targum and at times links the two. The Lucian is heterogenic and does not explain all the variants of 4QJudga or vice versa. The Vetus Latina of codex Lugdunensis seems to be a copy of the original Vetus Latina and contributes to an understanding of the origin of variants in the versions. The Vetus Latina of Lucifer of Cagliari is a secondary improvement and revision of the Vetus Latina of codex Lugdunensis. The Coptic contributes to an explanation of the origin of variants as well. A variant in the Syriac can be understood better by reading or referring to the Coptic. For the purposes of a Bible translator, 4QJudga, although an ancient text, is firstly not an example of a perfect copy; secondly, not an example of a copy done by direct consultation; and lastly, not a biblical text but a para-biblical text.