This monograph examines the manuscript variants of the Peshitta (the standard Syriac translation) of Kings, with special attention to the manuscript 9a1. Manuscript 9a1 is of critical importance for the textual history of Kings, and Walter argues that there is overwhelming evidence that the non-9a1 Mss attest to an extensive revision. This monograph also discusses translation features of the Peshitta of Kings with special attention paid to harmonization and the leveling and dissimulation of vocabulary. Walter also treats the vorlage for the translation and treats its relation to the LXX and the Targumim.
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This monograph dealing with 1 and 2 Kings was prepared at the invitation of Piet Dirksen when he was the editor-in-chief at the Peshitta Institute, Leiden.
The first part is primarily devoted to a detailed examination of the manuscript variants of the Peshitta (the standard Syriac translation) of Kings, with special attention to the manuscript 9a1. The alternative approaches to mss like 9a1, which in some OT books frequently have readings which reflect the Masoretic Text, are introduced. The study of the unique readings of 9a1 provides massive evidence that in Kings it commonly preserves the original Peshitta, although there is also evidence that 9a1 in Kings and other books has had its own independent history of deviating from the original translation.
A study of the shared variants also confirms the special status of 9a1 in preserving readings which agree with MT. A number of quantitative statistical techniques were used including Pool Tests and Multi-dimensional Scaling in the analysis of the data. Not only is the importance of 9a1 for the textual history of Kings established, but overwhelming evidence is found that the non-9a1 mss are ultimately shaped by an extensive intentional revision – a phenomena also found in a much lesser degree in Jeremiah, and sporadically in other books.
Since Kings overlaps extensive portions of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Chronicles, a chapter deals with them. The original translation is shown to have used the text of Isaiah, almost assuredly the Peshitta rather than the Hebrew of Isaiah. The revision represented by the non-9a1 mss also has made extensive deliberate use of the Peshitta of Isaiah and also the Peshitta of Jeremiah.
The second part of the monograph presents the results of Walter’s doctoral dissertation on 2 Kings, updated on the basis of the analysis of part 1. The question of the Hebrew text used and the rendering of names are treated. Translation features are examined with special attention to harmonization and the leveling and dissimulation of vocabulary, and to exegetical and theological changes. These features of the original translation were carried further in the revision identified in part 1, and presumably were intended to provide an improved Syriac translation, although there is no evidence of the use of the Hebrew text after the original translation. The possible influence of the LXX, and especially the Lucianic recension, is considered occasionally relevant, although not in places which may have provided translation problems. Any relations to the renderings of the Targum are best explained in terms of similarity of the languages.
After completing his doctoral dissertation under Charles T. Fritsch, James Barr, and Philip C. Hammond, Dr. Donald M. Walter became the editor of Psalms and later Jeremiah for the Peshitta Institute’s critical edition of the OT. He has served as an editor of Vol. 1 of the Concordance to the Torah also issued by the Institute, and is currently the first translator for Kings of the Institute’s Edessa Bible.