Friday, February 29, 2008

Text Criticism Terms

Those of us involved in Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible like to throw around certain terms to describe the textual phenomena that we see in the Masoretic Text (MT). Early on in my grad studies, I found myself hopelessly confused about that terminology. Words like homieoteuleton, homeoarcton, dittography, haplography, parablepsis, and Vorlage were thrown around like everybody knew what they meant and had been using them in everyday speech for years. I wish I'd known where to find a list of those terms with definitions (most are in Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible - if you're in the same position I was).

Here's a quick and basic guide to those terms and their typical meaning:

Parablepsis, haplography, homeoarcton, and homieoteuleton all refer to a similar phenomenon. Words or letters get skipped. Parablepsis means the scribe's eye skipped over some text. It's usually caused by homeoarcton (skipping between words with similar looking beginnings) or homieoteuleton (skipping between words with similar endings). Haplography just refers to letters being not written.

Dittography means a word or phrase was written twice. I've done that before with writing "the" twice and and not not noticing it it in in proofreading.

Vorlage is a German term that refers to the master copy that a text was taken from. We usually use it to refer to the original language text behind a translation. We only have the translation but we try to figure out what the Hebrew text they were using looked like. This is mostly used in relation to ancient translations where we don't have a copy of their original text. For modern translations, we usually have the original that was used to make the translation.

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