Friday, December 09, 2005

A Lost Scrap of Tobit from the Schoyen Collection

It has been little noticed that the website of the Schoyen Collection contains a hitherto unpublished scrap of 4Q196, a papyrus copy of the Aramaic version of the book of Tobit. (Edit 2019: A high resolution photo of the fragment has been taken down from the Schoyen Collection website.)

The Schoyen site stated that the fragment is part of Fragment 14 of 4Q196, but this can hardly be true. Fragment 14 contains parts of Tobit chapter 6, and the present fragment, as the site correctly notes, contains part of Tobit chapter 14. Evidently "Chapter 14" and "Fragment 14" were at some point confused when the site catalog was being composed. In fact, the Schoyen fragment belongs between Fragments 18 (Tobit 13:12-14:3) and 19 (Tobit 14:7) of 4Q196. It contains part of Tobit 14:4.

Here is a transcription of the text followed by a translation:

ואמר ל
די ממל
די ממלל
בכל די
יתבין ב

1. ] and he said to [
2. ] that [Nahum] is speak[ing
3. ] that [the prophets] speak [
4. ] will take place [
5. ] in all that [
6. ] dwelling in [the] l[and
7. ] Israel [

There's not a whole lot new here. The Schoyen fragment overlaps with 4Q198 frg. 1, and has a slightly different reading at line 2: די ממלל, where 4Q198 has די מלל. The Greek translations of Tobit are closer to 4Q198, translating "that Nahum (or Jonah) spoke" instead of "is speaking." Line 3 also suggests the reading ממללין "(they) speak" instead of the text J. Fitzmyer (in DJD) reconstructed for 4Q198 מללו "(they) spoke."

The Schoyen site notes that the Tobit text is "rather different from the Septuagint and shorter." This is a little misleading. There are in fact two Greek versions of Tobit, one of them the "standard" Septuagint text, and another significantly longer version, preserved in Codex Sinaiticus and a few other witnesses. As a rule, the Aramaic and Hebrew versions of Tobit found at Qumran show more affinity (although not exclusively) with the Long Recension.

Tobit 14:3-4 in the Long Recension (NRSV): When he was about to die, he called his son Tobias and the seven sons of Tobias and gave this command: “My son, take your children and hurry off to Media, for I believe the word of God that Nahum spoke about Nineveh, that all these things will take place and overtake Assyria and Nineveh. Indeed, everything that was spoken by the prophets of Israel, whom God sent, will occur. None of all their words will fail, but all will come true at their appointed times. So it will be safer in Media than in Assyria and Babylon. For I know and believe that whatever God has said will be fulfilled and will come true; not a single word of the prophecies will fail. All of our kindred, inhabitants of the land of Israel, will be scattered and taken as captives from the good land; and the whole land of Israel will be desolate ...

In this particular fragment, once again the affinity is with the Long Recension, but the Qumran text here must have been somewhat shorter than the Semitic Vorlage of the Long Recension (VLR). We know that the lines of 4Q196 average about 50 characters/spaces per line, but a reconstruction of the VLR that includes all that is in the Greek will not yield the right line lengths. (A PDF of my reconstruction of the VLR for this verse is available by request via email; the old link has rotted.)

Maybe the most interesting thing about this text is its provenance. According to the site, the text was sold by Kando in 1972 to an "American priest, later serving in Switzerland," who had it until 1995, when it was presumably sold to Martin Schoyen. Kind of makes you wonder what else is out there, doesn't it?

POSTSCRIPT (Dec. 2019):  This fragment is now considered a modern forgery; see A. Justnes, "Fake Fragments, Flexible Provenances: Eight Aramaic 'Dead Sea Scrolls' from the 21st Century," pp. 242-271 in Vision, Narrative, and Wisdom in the Aramaic Texts from Qumran: Essays from the Copenhagen Symposium, 14–15 August, 2017 (eds. M. Bundvad & K. Siegismund; Leiden: Brill, 2020).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Discoveries in the Judean Desert: Qumran Cave 4, XIV: Parabiblical Texts, Part 2 (1995) contains Joseph Fitzmyer's exemplary publication of Qumran Tobit (pp. 1-76).


Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Edward,

"Schoyen is very well known as a fantastically wealthy and credulous
purchaser of fakes."

I was given this assessment of the Schoyen collection by Peter Daniels. I don't know what others think.

EMC said...

I'm sure there are some fakes in Schoyen's collection, but not all of them are fakes. I'm confident this piece is authentic, for many reasons too abstruse too specify; but one is that the strands of papyrus in this fragment line up nicely with those of (authentic) frg. 19. Etc....

SH said...

Wow, I really like your reconstruction!

but the Qumran text here must have been somewhat shorter than the Semitic Vorlage of the Long Recension

You're probably right about that; but here and there I think you could "squeeze" the reconstruction without losing the meaning, e.g.

די אנא ידע וסבר

instead of

די ידע אנא ומהימין אנא


וכל אחינא יתבדרון

Instead of

ואחינא... כלהון יתבדרון

So I think there might be a possiblility that it's the same Vorlage afterall.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Edward,

I hope you didn't mind my asking since I wanted a second opinion on the Schoyen.

EMC said...

Suzanne: No problem.

Shai: Good suggestions. The reconstruction was tossed off rapidly and no doubt can be improved and shortened in many ways. It would have to lose 50+ characters, however, to fit. I like your first suggestion and even prefer it to mine; as for the second, though, the wording of my reconstruction was mandated by the parallel in 4Q198.

Anne and Mike said...

You might be interested to know that The Literary Form of the Parable has been found in Tobit.

Tobit is one of my favorite books. The day after I got back from the SBL Conference with my dad, I looked in Tobit, and happily found the literary form there.

My dad discovered the Literary Form of the Parable and has identified that the entire New Testament has been written using this specific literary form. The Literary Form of the Parable is one of the narrative traditions in the Hebrew Scriptures that has until only recently been identified as being well-defined and invariable.

It's imperitive for sholars to understand the literary form in which the New Testament Scriptures are written. My dad will have a book out shortly which contains the Literary Form of the Parable in detail and shows the four gospels diagramed into its literary form. The book will also show examples from the Old Testament.

EMC said...

It is now commonly accepted that this fragment is fake (update Dec. 6, 2019). I withdraw my previous endorsement of its authenticity.