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Title:Book of Psalms 151: Chapter 151: Bible textual variants analysed
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Textual Variants in the Book of Psalms 151

"Scripture cannot be broken" (Jesus, John 10:35)

"My word will accomplish what I desire and

succeed in the purpose for which I sent it." (Isa 55:11)

Steve Rudd November 2017

The Great Psalms Scroll from Cave 11 at Qumran: 11Q5

Textual Variants in the Book of Psalms Chapter 151:

Bible textual variants analysed

Introduction:

PSALM 151: This is an additional chapter found in the Septuagint which dates to 200 BC and is found in the great Psalms scroll (11Q5) in Cave 11 at Qumran. Though it claims to be written by King David himself, it doesn't contain any new information not already in the Bible, so it makes no difference if it is included or excluded.

Discussion:

1. The Dead Sea Scroll of Psalm 151:

a. The famous Psalms scroll was found in 1956 AD in cave 11 at Qumran.

b. The Septuagint (LXX) and Dead Sea Scroll 11Q5 (11Q5 Psalms a, 11QPsalmsa, 1Q1Psa) have Psalm 151, which is lacking in the Masoretic Text (MT)

2. Most Bibles used by Christians today lack Psalm 151 which is in the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

a. Ps 151 is written in the first hand from the mouth of King David.

b. It may be apocryphal and/or pseudepigraphal, meaning that it was not written by David but was penned much later as poetry etc.

c. There are no additional truths revealed in Ps 151 that are not already revealed in the Bible and especially 1 Sam 16-17 so its inclusion or exclusion in our Bible's makes no difference.

3. The Septuagint records Psalm 151 which is essentially the same as Dead Sea Scroll 11Q5:

a. "This psalm is written in his own hand by David, and outside of the number, when he fought in single combat against Goliath. I was small among my brothers and the youngest one in the house of my father. I was shepherding the sheep of my father. My hands made an organ; my fingers prepared a harp. And who will report to my Lord? The Lord himself, it is he who will hearken. He dispatched his messenger and raised me from the sheep of my father. He anointed me with the oil of his anointing. My brothers were handsome and big, but the Lord was not well pleased with them. I went out to a meeting against the foreigner, and he imprecated curses upon me with his idols. But I, after drawing the sword from him, beheaded him and took away the reproach from the children of Israel." (Psalm 151:title-7, LXX)

4. Archeological and literary details about Ps 151 from Dead Sea Scroll 11Q5:

a. "Although Psalm 151 is not included in the Masoretic Text, a Hebrew version, varying slightly from the Greek and Syriac, was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QPsa). The Hebrew version is extant as two psalms, labeled 151A and 151B, though most of B is damaged. This scroll includes other Psalms that were similarly excluded from later Christian canons and the Hebrew Bible canon, but may have held liturgical significance in the Second Temple period and after. Psalm 151 is included in the Greek Septuagint as represented by all three major early biblical codices, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Alexandrinus. In the Septuagint, the title of Psalm 151 says it is "not of the number" of the (150) Psalms ascribed to David though it is "written with his own hand." Psalm 151 also exists in some Syriac manuscripts, including a 12th-century Syriac Psalter that includes further additional psalms, numbered Psalms 152-155. In addition, Psalm 151 is included in many medieval manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate. Psalm 151 is canonical for the Eastern Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Syriac traditions. Since Psalm 151 is in ancient Greek Bibles that would have been used by early Christians, but is not part of the Hebrew Bible (and as such is noncanonical for the Jewish tradition), it is understood as apocryphal in the Protestant tradition. When it appears in Protestant Bibles, it is usually placed in a separate "Apocrypha" section." (LBD, Ps 151)

b. "PSALM 151. Whereas the Heb. contains 150 psalms, the LXX features an additional Psalm 151. In certain Greek codices, this psalm is placed in an appendix with the superscription "This psalm is ascribed to David as his own composition, though it is outside the number." In Codex Sinaiticus, however, the psalm is presented as canonical within "The 151 Psalms of David" (see SINAITICUS, CODEX). The Hebrew version is attested in the Qumran PSALMS SCROLL (11Q5; dated ca. 30-50 CE) and is preserved as two separate psalms (151A and the fragmentary 151B), which the Greek version has conflated and shortened. The LXX superscription situates Psalm 151 "after [David] fought in single combat with Goliath," while 11Q5 XXVIII, 3 has only "A Hallelujah of David the Son of Jesse" (DSSSE). Written in the first person and drawn from 1 Sam 16-17, the Greek psalm features David speaking of shepherding his father's flocks (Ps 151:1) and of his expertise with the lyre (Ps 151:2). David then recounts his selection by God and his anointing as king instead of his brothers (Ps 151:4-5). The final two verses briefly recount David's victory over Goliath." (The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Ps 151, Vol 4, p 661, 2009 AD)

c. "Psalm 151, a psalm included at the end of some manuscripts of Psalms in the LXX, where one manuscript, Codex Sinaiticus, numbers it Psalm 151. It is not found in the book of Psalms in the Jewish canon of scripture, which enumerates 150 psalms; however, a version of this psalm in its Hebrew original was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (in 11QPsa, a manuscript containing both canonical and noncanonical psalms). That original Hebrew version makes clear that the Greek version is actual a summary of two seemingly autobiographical psalms, one telling the story of the anointing of David, the young shepherd, maker of instruments and singer of psalms, and the other telling of David's defeat of Goliath. The psalm is significant, because it reflects the developing role of David in Second Temple Judaism (515 BCE-70 CE) as the founder of temple worship and writer of hymns, as the anointed of God, and even as an inspired "prophet," since the psalms attributed to him became scripture. The two Hebrew psalms behind Psalm 151 seem to antedate the Qumran community, indicating that they must have originated prior to the second century BCE." (The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, Ps 151, p 842, 2011 AD)

Conclusion:

While Ps 151 is not found in most Bibles today, it is found in the Septuagint (LXX) and Dead Sea Scroll 11Q5 (11Q5 Psalms a, 11QPsalmsa, 1Q1Psa) but it is missing in the Masoretic Text (MT). It contains no new information not already contained in the Bible so it makes no difference if it is included or excluded.

In the final analysis, we can be certain that we possess the word of God!

This is what Jesus meant, when He said: "Scripture cannot be broken" (Jesus, John 10:35)

"My word will accomplish what I desire and succeed in the purpose for which I sent it." (Isa 55:11)

The Septuagint LXX

"Scripture Cannot Be Broken"

Start Here: Master Introduction and Index

Six Bible Manuscripts

1446 BC

Sinai Text (ST)

1050 BC

Samuel's Text (SNT)

623 BC

Samaritan (SP)

458 BC

Ezra's Text (XIV)

282 BC

Septuagint (LXX)

160 AD

Masoretic (MT)

Research Tools

OT Textual Variants

Messianic expectation

300 OT quotes in NT

Canon of the Bible

Chronology Charts

Seder Olam Rabbah

Steve Rudd, November 2017 AD: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections

By Steve Rudd: November 2017: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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