A Matter of Choice: On the Feasibility and Utility of an Eclectic Text of the Hebrew Bible
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The exegesis of any biblical text is only as good as the text it examines. This thesis will lay out the case for the feasibility and utility of an eclectic text of the Hebrew Bible. First it explains the necessity and goal of textual criticism, while noting the unique challenges that textual critics of the Hebrew Bible face. It then surveys the methodologies that have been proposed for producing critical editions of the Hebrew Bible. This is followed by an analysis of the three main Hebrew Bible critical editions currently in progress, namely, Biblia Hebraica Quinta, the Hebrew University Bible, and the Oxford Hebrew Bible. Therein the methodology of each project is examined. These examinations serve to highlight the weaknesses and inadequacies of a diplomatic text, which in turn serve to highlight the utility of an eclectic text. After showing the utility of an eclectic text, it briefly surveys the extant textual witnesses and principles that need to be exercised in order to make an eclectic text feasible. Much of this advancement is due to the discoveries in the Judean desert and the maturity of the discipline of Hebrew Bible textual criticism, which can overcome, at least in part, the unique challenges Hebrew Bible textual criticism faces. Next a sample eclectic text is given using the previously laid out principles and methodology in order to demonstrate the utility and feasibility of an eclectic Hebrew Bible text. In conclusion this thesis summarizes arguments for the utility and feasibility of an eclectic Hebrew Bible Text. It argues that despite the unique challenge a textual critic of the Hebrew Bible faces, an eclectic critical text is preferable to a diplomatic one for getting closer to the most pristine text. Therefore, endeavors such as the Oxford Hebrew Bible should be embraced.