September 29th, 2012
Dead Sea Scrolls Update – 1 Samuel
Some more Dead Sea Scrolls transcriptions for everyone today. I’ve completed the four manuscripts of the book of 1 Samuel found among the Dead Sea Scrolls: 1Q7 Samuel (1QSam), 4Q51 Samuela (4QSama), 4Q52 Samuelb (4QSamb) & 4Q53 Samuelc (4QSamc).
Thanks to these four manuscripts, at least some of the text from 30 of the 31 chapters of 1 Samuel have been preserved (missing text from chapter 13), showing us what the text of this historical book looked like over 2000 years ago.
One of the most striking things about these manuscripts are their correlations with the text of the Greek Septuagint (translated around 250-200 BCE) compared to that of the Masoretic text (produced 1000+ CE). Striking enough were these similarities/correlations of the text, that the scholars who produced The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible were led to declare the following:
These manuscripts have also helped to realign scholars’ assessments of the value of the ancient Septuagint translation. Traditionally, when the Septuagint differed from the Masoretic Text (which had been considered the Hebrew original), the Septuagint was routinely thought to be a “free” translation (or even a paraphrase, or just plain wrong). The Hebrew manuscripts of Samuel found at Qumran, however, very often agree with the Septuagint when it differs from the Masoretic Text. This demonstrates that the Septuagint was translated from a Hebrew text form similar to that of the Qumran manuscripts. The problem in assessing the Septuagint, as with so many historical documents, had been with scholars’ vision and criteria, not with the data… the important lesson here is that the Septuagint is not a free or false rendering, but rather a generally [trustworthy] translation of its Hebrew source.
Summary: the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Tanakh actually demonstrates an older Hebrew version than the Masoretic. The problem wasn’t the Septuagint – but the Masoretic, which isn’t as close to the original Hebrew that people thought.
1Q7 Samuel (1QSam)
4Q51 Samuela (4QSama)
4Q52 Samuelb (4QSamb)
4Q53 Samuelc (4QSamc)
Edit: For all the above, please refer to the Downloads Page