Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Snaith Bible: A Critical Examination

Miles B. Cohen and David B. Freedman write a scathing review of the Snaith Bible, in which they basically attack the book and demonstrate its many errors. The conclusion to the piece serves as an excellent summary as well.


In conclusion, we have tried to show: (1) In matters of Masoretic spacing, vocalization, accentuation and use of Mem-Taf-Gimmel, Snaith's citing of the British Museum Manuscript Or.2626-8 as his basis is misleading, in view of the divergence of that manuscript and Snaith's printed text in an extraordinary number of instances (2) Snaith's claim that his text is independent of Biblia Hebraica is in need of substantiation (3) Snaith indicated his desired changes in a Letteris Bible which was not carefully checked to correct misprints and broken characters before it was submitted to the printer as the copy for Snaith's Bible (4) The typesetter was not made aware of the importance of some distinctions in the placement of certain accents (5) The proofreading was far below the caliber required for a project of this importance.

In the light of the above evidence, Snaith's edition must not be considered a reliable Masoretic text. It should therefore be noted that this Bible can no longer serve to substantiate Snaith's hypothesis that the Ben Asher tradition "is to be found in the first hand in the best Sephardi [manuscripts]," although the hypothesis itself may still be true.

Norman Henry Snaith has been a very demanding critic of Bible printings, as can be seen from his description of another scholar's Bible as "tragedy almost unrelieved." We would hope that if he were to reexamine his own text in the light of our evidence, he would agree that much serious revision of his Bible is needed.

(pages 125-126 or 29-30 depending on the article)


P.S. The only other time I've seen a review as negative as this one was Dr. Grach's "Responsa: Literary History and Basic History" about Peter J. Haas's work. It is also possibly the funniest review you'll ever read.


Gil Student said...

You should see Prof. Saul Lieberman's review of Jacob Neusner's translation of the Talmud Yerushalmi. The review's title is "Tragedy or Comedy?" http://www.jstor.org/pss/602175

Shasdaf said...

Prof. Lawrance Kaplan's critique of the editing of "Worship of the Heart" was pretty brutal (in the second half of the article)