Jan de Waard. A Handbook on Isaiah. Textual Criticism and the Translator, no. 1. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1997. Pp. vi + 227. US $29.50. ISBN 1-57506-023-X.
1. Generally speaking, the aim of the present publication is to give translators a better insight into the viewpoint of the textual critic and to help them to find a good base for their translation. Practically speaking, it is a help to the users of the fourth volume of the terse Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project (New York, United Bible Societies: 1979), and of the final detailed and learned report of D. Barthélemy, Critique textuelle de l'Ancien Testament, OBO 50/2 (Fribourg: Éditions Universitaires, 1986; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986) (CTAT).
2. The author treats most of the textual problems dealt with in CTAT. Occasionally a passage is omitted when the problem is judged to be unimportant to the tradition of exegesis or of little relevance for modern translators.
3. The treatment of each case is subdivided into three sections with the following headers: Textual Decisions, Evaluation of Problems, Proposals of Translation. The first section presents the problem and summarizes in a clearly readable language most of the data offered by Barthélemy. Thus in 7,11 the reader is told that the problem concerns the vocalisation and meaning of <heb>$)lh</heb>, which can be interpreted either as an imperative "ask" or as a noun "Sheol" + locative he. In the same section a survey is given of the ancient versions and of the decisions of the committee, with their justifications. In the second section de Waard gives his evaluation of the problems, situating them in their immediate and larger contexts. The third section suggests some proposals for translation, in dialogue with the conclusions noted in the Preliminary and Interim Report and with modern translations.
4. De Waard's main concerns are readability and intelligibility. He succeeds perfectly well in his project. The interested reader will find in his work an excellent and compressed English version of the data, arguments, and ratings provided by Barthélemy and the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project committee. The subject, however, remains complex, and some knowledge of Hebrew has to be presupposed. For some details the reader will have to turn to the more detailed, but also much more difficult, report composed by Barthélemy.
5. One objection remains unresolved. The Preliminary and Interim Report, as well as CTAT and de Waard's publication, discusses only a selection of textual difficulties. An example illustrates this. After the treatment of <heb>$)lh</heb> in 7,11, they all move to <heb>w)(ydh</heb> in 8,2. They omit other problems such as those connected with <heb>wqr)t</heb> in 7,14 and the identity of the one who names the child.
© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 2000.
Johan Lust Katholieke Universiteit Leuven