Volume 25 (2022)

John Daniel Meade, A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22-42, Origen’s Hexapla: A Critical Edition of the Extant Fragments (Leuven: Peeters, 2020)

Zhan Chen Beijing Normal University at Zhuhai Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College
John Daniel Meade, A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22-42, Origen’s Hexapla: A Critical Edition of the Extant Fragments (Leuven: Peeters, 2020). Pp. XIII + 453; $127.96.

This volume is the first one to be published in the long-expected series, Origen’s Hexapla: A Critical Edition of the Extant Fragments, initiated at the Rich Seminar on the Hexapla held at Oxford in 1994. Based on his dissertation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary under Prof. Peter Gentry, who has been serving in the editorial committee of this Hexapla project, this volume is dedicated to replacing the edition of Frederick Field, who compiled the fragments of Origen’s Hexapla known to him in the mid-19th century, and also to complement the Hexaplaric readings included in the second critical apparatus of the Göttingen Septuaginta by Joseph Ziegler (which Meade abbreviates, not surprisingly, as “the Edition”).

Meade opens his prolegomena with an explicit statement that “this edition does not provide a new collation of materials but rather a fresh presentation of former sources collected into one place.” By “former sources” he means, in addition to Field’s version and Ziegler’s apparatus as mentioned above, new witnesses to Job’s Hexaplaric text made available by Ursula and Dieter Hagedorn, as well as several other manuscripts (such as minuscules 161 and 555) that were not accessible to previous editors of Hexapla. For the Syro-Hexapla, one of the essential sources for reconstructing the Hexapla, Meade relies on the edition of Ceriani as did Field, while for the Armenian tradition he draws on the edition of Claude Cox.

This volume is not the first in the project: Nancy Therese Woods critically edited the first twenty-one chapter of Job in her 2009 at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also under the supervision of Gentry. However, Meade’s is the first to be published in the series. Therefore, the apparatus format Meade adopts as well as adapts will be crucial for all potential users of this new Hexapla edition. For a critical edition, it is necessary to present in an understandable way how different sources are evaluated and pieced together: According to which principles is the apparatus organized? Where does one find the information for solving the enigmatic numbers or symbols the editor(s) decided to employ? How does each section of the apparatus relate to the others?

With regard to the numbering system of the manuscripts, Meade sticks to the Verzeichnis of Rahlfs and thus with the Göttingen Septuaginta, with which most biblical scholars are familiar. Abbreviations and sigla are largely carried over from Ziegler’s Edition, except for sigla for the catena. Meade inherited the latter from the Hagedorns who devised a system different from that of Ziegler. Ziegler subdivided the cantena manuscripts he used into two groups: the main group, designated by the capital letter C, and the subgroup, c. In the Hagedorns’ system, the group cI largely corresponds to Ziegler’s C (with additional minuscules 395 and 3006) while cII corresponds to Zieler’s c (with 512 in addition). The Hagedorns created another main group C (not to be confused with Ziegler’s C!) for their purposes. With these differences in mind, the new sigla system should not confuse those familiar with Ziegler and Rahlfs.

With respect to the layout of the new apparatus system, Meade very kindly offers three examples to demonstrate how it works (pp. 20-22): The first witness apparatus (Wit 1) contains the primary Hexaplaric witnesses, the second apparatus (Wit 2) lists witnesses outside “the Three” (Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion) that may betray influence from the Three. The third apparatus (Attr) presents variants to the attribution, the fourth (Var) shows variations within those witnesses mentioned in Wit 1, while the fifth (NonGr) lists all available non-Greek sources.

For reconstructing the Hexapla, at least two types of information should be properly registered in a critical edition. One is the diacritical signs which Origen applies to his fifth column (designated in the following as Type I information), especially the asterisks: As it is generally supposed, when verses are missing in the Septuagint in comparison to the Hebrew text, Origen adopted readings from Theodotion and marked the borrowing with asterisks (and metobelis) to make his fifth column more isomorphic to the Hebrew text. In the case of Job, asterisked verses are in a relatively large quantity: one-sixth of the Göttingen LXX of Job, according to Gentry, or 600 to 700 stichoi, according to Jerome, are asterisked. The second type of information registered concerns base texts, including the texts of different Septuagint versions and the Three (Type II).

These two types of information are two dimensions that quite often cross over into each other: For instance, according to the base text of the Syro-Hexapla, the verses Job 22:13-16 are under the asterisks (Type I), while according to the marginal notes on the same page, readings of Symmachus are provided for verse 14b as well as for verse 15 (Type II). Meade (as well as Woods) decided to present both types of critical notes in an undifferentiated way by keeping strictly to the five-section apparatus system, first presenting Type I information and then Type II that might relate to the same verses. In this seemingly redundant but sophisticated manner, both types of critical information are well organized and presented parallel to each other. The three examples Meade gives in his introduction are a great demonstration of the power of this system: the first two examples belong to Type II, and the third one belongs to Type I, yet they all follow the same format. It might be beneficial to make a more explicit statement about the difference there-between to avoid confusion for the readers.

Following are three general methodological reflections upon the volume. The first reflection concerns the first witness apparatus (Wit 1). This apparatus is for variants from “the Three” of the Hexapla. However, by definition, “the Three” are not necessarily Hexaplaric. As Woods raised the question in her prologue, “can we be sure that attributions are truly ‘Hexaplaric’ or are they attributions added or circulated outside of Origen’s Hexapla,” since, “‘the Three’ have also a history of their own, outside of Origen’s Hexapla” (p. 8)? In other words, it is sometimes only taken by default that, if there is any attribution to the Three from a specific manuscript, this attributed citation, and the attribution as well, must descend from the Hexapla itself. Yet, theoretically, we can never exclude the possibility that a specific fragmentary citation could be ascribed to some scribe or translator rather than to Origen himself. For those readers that only interested in how the original Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion read, it might be unimportant whether a reading attributed to the Three stands inside or outside the Hexaplaric tradition; however, for those who are interested in how the original Hexapla looked like, the nuance between the theoretical definition of “Hexaplaric” as confined to the very production of Origen, and the practical identification of almost any witnesses of the Three with “Hexaplaric” is worth being mentioned.

The second reflection concerns the second witness apparatus (Wit 2), which records readings that “have been corrupted by Hexaplaric readings.” These readings are primarily taken from Ziegler’s first apparatus. I highly appreciate the effort Meade makes to keep all relevant readings for the convenience of the readers; however, it is often subjective to determine whether a variant stands under the influence of the Hexapla. For instance, in Job 24:22b, where Meade records υπερ L [sic] (Lucianic recension main group) as against κατά of the Old Greek text in the apparatus in question, it is far from certain that υπερ is inspired by περί in Symmachus. It is quite a strenuous effort to build causal relationships among the already very fragmentary witnesses if practically too many possible candidates are missing.

The final reflection concerns the last apparatus (NonGr) in the case of asterisked verses (Type I): In these cases, Meade kindly provides all translations available (e.g., Syrohexapla, Latin version of Jerome, and Armenian for Job 22:13-16), which occupies much space. However, as noted above, Type I variants are not variants of a biblical base text but variants of Origen’s diacritical signs. For this purpose, it seems unnecessary to provide concrete texts of all available translations. A simple note in the fourth apparatus signifying the status of the signs, like in the case of Greek manuscripts, should suffice for the purpose.

While producing this critical edition, Meade also undertook highly relevant research on individual manuscripts, which is not to be taken for granted. For instance, he confirmed that the minuscule 476 is a descendant of 139 (p. 16), and further determined that the minuscule 788, which had been ignored by Field, Ziegler, and the Hagedorns, is the ancestor of 250. This latter discovery is quite crucial for the purpose of this edition since 250 is the major witness to the Hagedorns’ α-catena group (the C group). These insights lead to a slight but significant modification of the Hagedorns’ catena system, which itself differs from Ziegler’s, as presented above. Especially valuable for scholars interested in the Syro-Hexapla is Meade’s research on Syro-Hexaplaric Job published 2016, which analyzed several essential aspects of the marginalia of the Codex Ambrosianus.

With his solid research, accompanied by the well-designed system for registering the critical notes, Meade has produced a marvelous milestone for the new Hexapla Project. There are sporadic errors spread in this volume, which might impede the understanding for a moment: e.g., on page 33, the down arrow for manuscript 248 leads us to expect more information down below while non-existent; or in Job 24:22b, “+ τῆς ἑαυτοῦ ζωῆς” is provided for the marginal note of the Syro-Hexapla in comparison to the lemma in question, περί (or ܥܠ in the case of the Syro-Hexapla ), while the marginal note of the Syro-Hexapla does not need a “harmonization with the bible text of the LXX” to produce the whole prepositional phrase, but the note is addressed to the whole phrase ܥܠ ܚ̈ܝܐ ܕܝܠܗ in an understandably redundant way. These minor deficits can be easily fixed once detected. Overall, Meade’s volume has successfully provided proof of the practicability of the format employed by the critical project and has thus laid a robust foundation for all future volumes of Origen’s Hexapla: A Critical Edition of the Extant Fragments, of which we are excited to see the publication in the next years. He deserves the congratulations and profound thanks of all scholars working on Origen, biblical textual criticism and the Syro-Hexapla. 


Syriac Lexeme

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Status: Published  
Publication Date: March 4, 2022
Zhan Chen, "John Daniel Meade, A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22-42, Origen’s Hexapla: A Critical Edition of the Extant Fragments (Leuven: Peeters, 2020)." Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 25.1 (2022): 277-282.
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