In 1896 D. A. Chwolson discovered a Hebrew manuscript containing large portions of 1Maccabees in Hebrew (Chapters 1-4; 7:27-9:22, 28a, 31, 73; 6:1-14a) in the Biblioteque National in Paris France. In 1901 this Hebrew Text was published again by Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer was convinced that these were large extracts from the original Hebrew of the book.
The Hebrew text in this edition appears to be an abridged text preserving three major extracts from the book, 1the “Channukah Story” (Chapter 1-4) the death of Nicanor (7:27-9:22, 28a, 31, 73) and followed (out of order) by the death of Antiochus (6:1-14a).
In his 1903 review (JBL xxii, 51-59) two years later (1903) Charles Cutler Torrey criticized Schweizer's analysis in the Journal of Biblical Literature ("Schweitzer’s 'Remains of a Hebrew Text of 1Maccabees."(JBL Vol. 22, No. 1), 1903). Torrey concluded that Schweizer was "too optimistic" and that the Hebrew is "a secondary recession" and "in no instance is there any ground for the contention that it has preserved the original reading, as against the other versions" Charles Cutler Torrey concluded that this version of 1Maccabees was “translated… from the Latin.” (p. 58). Since Torrey’s dismissal of Schweitzer’s theory, this Hebrew text of 1Maccabees has been largely ignored.
Nonetheless an analysis of the Hebrew text and a critical comparison of the Hebrew text with the Greek, Latin and Syriac versions makes it clear that Schweitzer was in fact correct, that we do in fact have in this Hebrew text a preservation of the original Hebrew.
(c) Copyright James Scott Trimm
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