The Oxford Hebrew Bible

Via Ralph the Sacred River and Tyler Williams at Codex, I came across this article from Biblica by Professor Hugh Williamson on the Oxford Hebrew Bible Project.

There seem to be problems downloading the samples from the project site, so I haven’t been able to form much of an informed opinion, but I did want to mention two things that struck me in the short sample from Deuteronomy.

Like the earlier Biblia Hebraica editions which claim to conform as closely as possible to the Leningrad Codex, this edition makes no attempt to reproduce the distinctive layout of Deuteronomy 32 in Masoretic manuscripts.

Professor Williamson mentions a number of anomalies created by the editorial policy of reproducing the MS text with vowels and accents, but letting emendations to the text appear unvocalized. An additional effect of this policy appears in verse 5 in the sample: שִׁחֵ֥ת ל֛וֹ לֹ֖א בָּנָ֣יו דּ֥וֹר עִקֵּ֖שׁ וּפְתַלְתֹּֽל׃. The editor has chosen to emend the text by omitting the word מוּמָם, but the other words of the verse are left with their original accents. The result is nonsense, because the accent system of the Hebrew Bible operates with longer units than single words. I’m not sure myself that the emended text improves the reading*, but that is beside the point. In terms of the accent system, omitting one word implies an emendation to the surrounding words as well. In this case “בָּנָיו” has become the last word of the clause, but the editor has left it with a conjunctive accent. This may seem like a quibble to people unaccustomed to reading the Bible with the accents, but I personally was unable even to parse the result until I had worked out what was intended by reading the critical notes.

* I suppose that I belong to the group of whom Professor Williamson says “some may be wedded to a conservative textual approach for religious or similar reasons, and they would be likely either to use another edition or to pick out the unemended text of their choice without full understanding of the issues anyway.”