Chapter II:11: Cautions concerning the Use of the Samaritan Pentateuch

With respect to the SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH, of which our AUTHOR makes mention at the beginning of this §, from which, easily to be assessed from that most deplorable state (as they say) of that most corrupt Nation, he likewise removes Authenticity:  that Hebrew-Samaritan Pentateuch, that is, the Hebraic, but written in Samaritan characters, which is now read, first of all printed by the care of JOHN MORINUS[1] in Bibliis Polyglottis published at Paris, but then also inserted in the Bibliis Polyglottis published at London; formerly it lay hidden, but finally in the last century it was brought from the East into Europe.  Concerning its origin, age, and authority the Learned differ much.

1.  Negatively, there can be no agreement here with JOHN MORINUS, Presbyter of the Congregation of the Oratory, who thought this Pentateuch to be Authentic, transmitted from the age of Moses to Jeroboam, and to the Samaritans of afterages, and on that account to be set far ahead of the Hebrew Codex of the Jews.  He is also joined by others, who attribute to the Samaritan alphabet the greatest antiquity.  But as we saw in § 8 that their hypothesis is supported by exceedingly slight supports; so Morinus, perhaps too happy over the discovery of the treasure of this Pentateuch, set a value upon it far above its worth.  Whence to the Canonical αὐθεντίᾳ/authenticity of this Pentateuch, rashly asserted by John Morinus, the Most Illustrious JOHANN HEINRICH HOTTINGER with great industry opposed his own Exercitationes Anti-Morinianas, de Pentateucho Samaritano, ejusque udentica αὐθεντίᾳ.

2.  Certainly, although the first origins of this Pentateuch lie in obscurity, a more diligent examination of the same,

α.  Easily persuaded men of keen perception, that the same, as it is seen today, was copied from the Hebrew Codex only after the times of Ezra, indeed, that it is not more ancient than the Septuagint—Viralis Version, but was conflated from both the Hebrew and the Greek Codices, or at least in many things with the passage of time was accommodated to the Alexandrian Greek Version, and touched up from that:  accordingly,

a. Many errors are found in this Codex, having arisen from a confusion of the similar letters in the squared Hebrew alphabet, which letters do not have a resemblance of this sort in the Samaritan alphabet:  whence an especially probable argument arises that the Samaritan Pentateuch was copied from the Hebrew Codex written in squared letters, and not vice versa.

b. In many Places, where it departs from the Hebrew Codex, it is discovered to follow deliberately the Septuagint Version.  In place of an example now may be that single passage of Exodus 12:40, where in the place of the Hebrew,וּמוֹשַׁב֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָשְׁב֖וּ בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה וְאַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָֽה׃, now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years, the Septuagint, with an ἐπενθέσει/insertion added for the sake of explanation, has, ἡ δὲ κατοίκησις τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραὴλ ἣν κατῴκησαν ἐν γῇ Αἰγύπτῳ καὶ ἐν γῇ Χαναὰν ἔτη τετρακόσια τριάκοντα, now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, was four hundred and thirty years, which is exhibited in the same manner in the Samaritan Codex.  While in other things it departs in different ways from the Hebrew Codex and all Versions equally.

β.  Moreover, as far as the authority of this Pentateuch is concerned, although we acknowledge the excellent and diverse usage of the same indicated by CARPZOV, where he treats of this Pentateuch in his Critica Sacra Veteris Testamenti, part II, chapter IV, pages 611, 612:  yet with WALTON[2] we concede to it no other authority than to other ancient exemplars, which were able to contract their own marks and blemishes by the injury of time or the negligence of scribes; besides that in some things this Codex has been corrupted consistently in favor of Samaritan superstition.  And indeed, by a long series of examples the blemishes, with which this Codex is burdened, and its dissent from the Hebrew text, are brought to light both by HOTTINGER in his Exercitationibus Anti-Morinianis; and by WALTON in his Bibliis Polyglottis, even making use of the labor of EDMUND CASTELL[3] and JOHN LIGHTFOOT (see tome 1 in WALTON’S Apparatu Biblico, prolegomena XI, pages 74 and following, and tome 6 in Animadversionibus Samaritanis in Pentateuchum); and also by CARPZOV in his Critica Sacra Veteris Testamenti, part II, chapter IV, pages 604, 611:  whence all Authenticity is easily refused to this Codex, if attention be given, a.  to its innumerable errors, to which the similar writing, or sound and pronunciation, of certain Hebrew letters, supplied the origin and occasion:  b.  to those passages which clearly reveal malitious corruption in favor of Samaritan superstition; to which end the fraulent replacement of mount Ebal with mount Gerizim, Deuteronomy 27:4, had regard, which, so that they might maintain the corruption of the text, they did not fear to sew on to the Decalogue entire strips under the pretense of an Eleventh Commandment, which are found in this Pentateuch both in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5:  c.  to the examples of this sort, in which the Samaritan Text recedes equally from the Hebrew text and from all Versions; in which no credible reasons appears as to why we, with all the others abandoned, should follow the one Samaritan Codex:  d.  to the manifest glosses introduced into the text.  To which, finally, e.  one may add that this Samaritan Codex never had that authority in the Church, either Jewish or Christian, that with the Jewish it might be either treated equally, or preferred before it, or that the Jewish might be corrected and emended by it.

[1] John Morinus (1591-1659) was born into a French Protestant family, but converted to Roman Catholicism.  He was a great Oriental scholar, and he was a proponent of the priority of the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint over the Hebrew text.

[2] Brian Walton (1600-1661) was an Anglican priest and scholar.  The great work of his life was the Polyglot Bible, published in the 1650s.

[3] Edmund Castell (1606-1686) was an English orientalist.  Castell helped Walton in the preparation of the Polyglott Bible.  His great work was the lexicon Heptaglotton Hebraicum, Chaldaicum, Syriacum, Samaritanum, Æthiopicum, Arabicum, et Persicum.

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