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I noticed a similarity in two sets of passages from 1 Kings 19, and was wondering if either (1) there is any historical textual evidence that might point to dittography having occurred, and that a single passage was accidentally copied twice by a scribe at some point in time, creating a corrupted stream of texts that have the duplication (from which English versions translated from), or (2) that it is in fact an intentional duplication?

Here are the texts using the NKJV translation:

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:9-10 NKJV)

So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 And he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." (1 Kings 19:13-14 NKJV)

In both responses he mentions "Your prophets". So the response from Elijah is to God.

In Both Passages a similar question is asked

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9b NKJV)

"What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:13b NKJV)

In Both Passages a similar answer is given

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:10b NKJV)

"I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." (1 Kings 19:14b NKJV)

  • Is there an extant Hebrew source that does not have the duplication?
  • Is there extant ancient translations that omit one or the other passage, possibly indicating the ancient version was translated from a source that did not have the duplication?
  • If the duplication appears purposeful, what does it indicate for understanding the meaning of 1 Kings 19?
  • Is not the only repetition on the bible, I'd like to talk with you about God, could you lease contact me? I left my contact email on my profile, thanks! – Hacktivista Jul 5 '15 at 23:17
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    They are two different encounters, separated by a certain amount of time, corresponding to a journey's length (from the wilderness to the mountain). And each time, Elijah introduces himself. First, to an Angel carrying the word of God; and then to God Himself. The fact that both the messenger and the One who sent it speak and are addressed in the same manner should not surprise you, since this is commonplace throughout Scripture. As are repetitions, for that matter. – Lucian Jul 30 '17 at 15:57
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You're not alone in having noticed this repetition. Various hypotheses have been proposed for its existence, from those suggesting it is a thematic choice by the narrator to highlight Elijah's change in character, to a more critical position that there was an intentional addition (perhaps from an alternate tradition of the same story).

While in the process of explaining how this Elijah episode is a deliberate parallel to Moses' sighting of God (Exodus 33), Cross notes this:1

Unhappily, in verses 9b-14, there appears to be a doublet in the tradition which has obscured the interpretation of the climax of the legend. Carlson has argued that the so-called doublet is merely repetition natural to style of the Elijah cycle. Others have argued that a dittography or gloss has intruded, and that verses 9b-11aα are to be omitted, or alternately, verses 13b-14. I am inclined to believe that the original account possessed both an incubation and a "passing by" of Yahweh as Elijah stood in the door by the cave.

Other than Carlson, he only names one 'other' scholar in a footnote, Würthwein, who suggests 'that vv. 11-13a are to be omitted, as an addition, that is, the entire theophany'. Cross calls this excessive.

Summarizing Carlson's argument, Becking writes:

Over against the literary-critical approach, Carlson stated that this approach contains a misjudgment of the literary and ideological character of the stories on Elijah. With 'literary character' he refers – among other things – to the fact that 'repetition' is a repeated literary technique within the stories on Elijah. 1 Kgs. 17-19 is characterised and structured by this technique. With 'ideological character' he refers to his observation of a contrast between the way in which YHWH reveals himself – i.e. by way of the divine דבר – and the way in which Baal makes himself known. According to Carlson, 1 Kgs. 19 is a coherent unit that has been part of the greater unit of the stories on Elijah.

Also drawing a bit on Würthwein, Keinänen writes:3

The angel feeds Elijah twice, which is a clear repetition. 1 Kings 19:10 and 14 are parallel repetitions describing Elijah's accusating the people.

Subjecting the passage to heavy literary criticism, he continues:4

1 Kings 19:14 is a parallel and almost literal repetition of 1 Kings 19:10. However, the more original reading of 19:10 in the LXX does not contain the concept "covenant". In the case of 19:14 the concept occurs in the LXX (ὅτι ἐγκατέλιπόν τήν διαθήκην σου ὁι ὑιοὶ Ἰσραήλ), The [sic] text of 19:10 should be: "They have abandoned you" (ὅτι ἐγκατέλιπόν σε ὁι ὑιοὶ Ἰσραήλ).

Both 19:10 and 19:14 include the repetitious question: "Why are you here Elijah?" 5 (19:19bβ par 19:13bβ). The parallel units consist of 19:9bβ-10 and 19:13bβ-14. 1 Kings 19:14 is theologically more developed than 19:10 because of the mention of the covenant.

1 Kings 19:11-13 between the parallel units (19:9bβ-10; 19:13bβ-14) differ from the textual context. The question of Yahweh's presence in the natural phenomena does not provide a direct answer to Elijah's distress and escape culminating in 19:10 and the connection with 19:15-18 remains obscure and strained. The dialogue between Yahweh and Elijah is suddenly changed into a revelation, the meaning of which is not explicated; the functions of the forms of the revelations seem ambiguous. Yahweh's appearances and his revelations are not dealt with anywhere else in 1 Kings 19. Therefore the approach in 19:11-13 is different. Revelation forms of Yahweh in the natural phenomena are more obscure than the revelations of the angel in 19:5-8. 1 Kings 19:11-14 interrupts the scheme, deviates from the textual context, and makes the logic obscure.

...

1 Kings 19:9b-10 does not appear to be an addition.

...

1 Kings 19:9b-10 and 13b-14 form a circular-construction, with the help of which 19:11-13a was added to the text. 1 Kings 19:13b-14 is a literary technical repetition creating a bridge back to the content of 19:9b-10. The differences in style and content along with the circular-construction indicate that the section 19:11-14 is secondary.

Note, however, that none of the authors provide tangible evidence for or against their hypotheses; none of them uses an existing manuscript tradition to argue for their case. This is all strictly speculative, although in my opinion the literary-critical hypothesis represented by Keinänen is very strong.


Footnotes

1 Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (1997), p.193.

2 Bob Becking, From David to Gedaliah: The Book of Kings as Story and History (2007), p.25.

3 Jyrki Keinänen, Traditions in Collision: A Literary and Redaction-Critical Study on the Elijah Narratives 1 Kings 17-19 (2001), p.142.

4 Ibid., p.143-145. Bold mine.

5 The quotation includes the Hebrew at this point, but I'm having formatting problems trying to include it in the quote. It should read: "Why are you here Elijah?" מה לך פה אליהו

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