The scribal achievement of Codex Vaticanus (B) is magisterial. This oldest extant Greek Bible materialized the audacious Christian conviction of the unity of the Jewish and Christian scriptures by physically binding the testaments into a single compendium. The manuscript has had an elusive history for the public, which only enhances our gratitude to the Vatican Library for posting on its website, from 2015 to the present, free HD images of B in its entirety. It is my hope that this commentary on Leviticus in Vaticanus, hereafter LeueitikonB or LeuB, will guide others to encounter the manuscript afresh or for the first time. The LeuB text reflects “une ou plusieurs recensions ultérieurs” (Himbaza 2016: 32–33), but its recensional nature should not be overstated because, with LeuA and the fragmentary codices, it contains only a “relatively small number of variants” (Ulrich 1984: 82) against the rightly esteemed papyri (4QLXXLeva, 4QpapLXXLevb, Schøyen MS 2649). Irrespective of its convergences and divergences with the Old Greek, LeuB is worthy to be read as an independent text with its own coherent structure and message, and its own polyphony and complications. This commentary, then, is my attempt to move toward greater solidarity with the voiceless early Greek readers who, in the end, must have made sense of this now timeless manuscript. The original LeuB scribes have preserved a text form that perpetuates all the dense layers of intertextuality—Hebraic syntax and Koine Greek lexical choices, but with B’s own attractive, subdivided format and variant readings that recolor the ancient story of Israel’s encounter with the Lord, who speaks from out of his dwelling tent at the base of the desert mountain. It is only fitting that LeuB even had an idiosyncratic spelling for that nostalgic place: Mount Seina (Σεινά in 7:38[2×]; 25:1; 26:46; 27:34; cf. Σινα “Sina” Bb A GAmb; סִינָי “Sinai” MT).
I thank the editors of this series for granting me the delight of contributing this volume. Richard Hess alleviated undue pressure through a string of positive responses. His review in tandem with Stanley Porter’s has helped to improve the manuscript. I thank Jan Joosten for his feedback on a portion of the translation and introduction. His encouragement at the 2016 congress of the IOSOT/IOSCS in Stellenbosch compelled me to persevere when I was in the thick of this project. There also, Michaël van der Meer was uplifting and willing to publish my paper on LevLXX 16:1 in their volume, but I had already submitted it elsewhere. At the same congress, I sat with Peter Flint, who, without my prompting, offered his service: “I can tell you anything you would like to know about Leviticus in the Qumran scrolls.” Not even two months later, on Nov. 3, 2016, he died unexpectedly. In our grief, his kindness and scholarship live on as a source of inspiration. I am very grateful to Miika Tucker, who while researching in Helsinki under Professor Aejmelaeus, checked my reproduction of the precorrected text of Leueitikon in Vaticanus. I thank my colleague William Subash for suggesting that LevLXX 18:22 probably exhibits anacoluthon and my colleague Ernest Clark for assisting me in surveying how the NT writings assimilate and adapt Leviticus’ cult and temple motifs; a number of his thoughts appear in the introductory section, The Reception of LeviticusLXX in the New Testament. I am thankful for research assistants, Jim Wilson, who collected sources, and Brad Haggard, who created the indices. I offer my gratitude to Lydia Bax and her team at TAT Zetwerk for their gracious spirit and exemplary editing and formatting work. I thank Rebecca Williams for tirelessly and promptly copy editing the translation and commentary.
I am humbled by my astonishing wife and kids for always supporting me in my research, even when it added pressure to our household. At last, I thank ὁ κύριος, the Lord, whom I have come to love and fear more deeply through the perplexing beauty of the Greek version of Leviticus.
Mark A. Awabdy