Writing Commentary on the Life of a Text

In: Vetus Testamentum
Ronald L. Troxel University of Wisconsin-Madison

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In preparing to construct a new critical edition of Isaiah 1-39, the author argues that textual criticism is not merely preparatory to exegesis and literary criticism, but is best presented in the form of a commentary on the life of the text. Doing so requires eliminating the old divide between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ criticism, only the former of which Eichhorn mentioned in order to commend literary-critical reading over against theological reading, not philological. The later backformation ‘lower criticism’ designated textual criticism practiced on the basis of rules and stemmata that made it a substantially mechanical task. Study of manuscripts from the Judaean desert has already raised questions about the validity of the divide for some books, and Troxel’s analysis of problems in Isaiah 6:13b raises similar skepticism for study of the text of Isaiah. Accordingly, he proposes writing a commentary on the life of Isaiah’s text, without the ‘higher’/‘lower’ divide.

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