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The Masoretic Text and NRSV versions of the opening verses of Proverbs 5 are as follows (the MT follows the Aleppo Codex and is taken from the Mechon-Mamre website):

MT NRSV
א בְּ֭נִי לְחָכְמָתִ֣י הַקְשִׁ֑יבָה לִ֝תְבֽוּנָתִ֗י הַט־אָזְנֶֽךָ׃ 1 My child, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding,
ב לִשְׁמֹ֥ר מְזִמּ֑וֹת וְ֝דַ֗עַת שְׂפָתֶ֥יךָ יִנְצֹֽרוּ׃ 2 so that you may hold on to prudence, and your lips may guard knowledge.
ג כִּ֤י נֹ֣פֶת תִּ֭טֹּפְנָה שִׂפְתֵ֣י זָרָ֑ה וְחָלָ֖ק מִשֶּׁ֣מֶן חִכָּֽהּ׃ 3 For the lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil;

Note the sudden, non-introduced (or is it – vide infra) description of the 'loose woman' in v. 3.

However, the text of the NJB is rather different, adding an extra 'line' at the end of v. 2 (emphasis added by me):

NJB
1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen carefully to what I know;
2 so that you may preserve discretion and your lips may guard knowledge. Take no notice of a loose-living woman,
3 for the lips of the adulteress drip with honey, her palate is more unctuous than oil,

A footnote to the "Study Edition" of the NJB explains that this extra text follows the LXX, μὴ πρόσεχε φαύλῃ γυναικί (as per Ralph Hancock's transcription of Codex Alexandrinus).

So, my question is this: Does the LXX preserve text that was accidentally 'dropped' by scribal error, either by the Masoretes (highly unlikely) or by those who wrote the MSS from which they worked? Or did the translators of the LXX make a deliberate, 'editorial addition', to make the transition (from what is now v.2 to v. 3) smoother?

Note that the reference to 'lips' in the (MT) version of v. 2 may be sufficient to link it with the following text, even without the LXX 'addition'.

Is there any other textual evidence for this extra line? (Qumran MSS? Targumim? Peshitta? Other Hebrew MSS?)

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  • This is my first post on this site. I hope it is (mostly) OK ... but I can't work out how to format the Hebrew text as right-to-left. If someone can advise (or edit), I would appreciate it. Commented Mar 27 at 7:29
  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics! While table formatting may look better, it is not accessible for users with visual disabilities. Please see Standard format for biblical quotations. You may also find How do I write an accessible Stack Exchange post? useful.
    – agarza
    Commented Mar 27 at 13:51
  • @AdrianMole (1) I would suggest stacking the MT/NRSV together. (2) While I have not typed in Hebrew, I have never had a problem copy/pasting in Hebrew into the editor. You could try using SE's stackedit.io as a preliminary editor to test out formatting.
    – agarza
    Commented Mar 27 at 14:53
  • @AdrianMole—Ultimately, you are not required to adhere to any particular formatting. Format your posts — because they are yours — at your discretion. Personally, I like how you used the table to compare the texts; I feel that is a fitting use of the table. Commented Mar 27 at 15:07

1 Answer 1

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I am not a textual critic, but can find no evidence that there is significant variation in ancient Hebrew texts. Dr. John Gill (1690-1771) gives an explanation in John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible describing the phrase added in the Septuagint and Arabic versions as an unnecessary supplement. (See note on the verse in question.) This is not uncommon in the Septuagint.

Calling this an "editorial addition" might suggest a connotation not completely fair to the translators. Translation work is not an exact science. For example, compare a several English translations. They can be very diverse, and yet each can be accurate according to the objectives of the work. The conclusion is not that only one is correct.

We are evaluating text that has been translated from ancient Hebrew to Greek and then to English. To fully comprehend why this was rendered this way, we would have to be an expert in all three languages and cultures.

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  • Hmm. I am not here (really) concerned with the translation into English. I added those English lines merely for clarity, as most readers here may not read Hebrew or Greek. The point is that an addition has apparently been made, as the 'extra line' in the LXX has no counterpart in the MT. Commented Apr 14 at 14:30
  • My suggestion is that you evaluate whether this is an addition. For example, if Hebrew poetry expects a contrasting idea (pay attention to wisdom but do not pay attention to a loose woman) but Greek readers do not anticipate a contrasting idea, would it be most faithful to supply the understanding in the Greek or leave this out of the translation? If the objective is to provide the same understanding to Greek readers, you would not see this as an addition.
    – llessurt
    Commented Apr 15 at 11:52

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