Textual Issue (sample)

Gen 4:8, plus, ... said to Abel his brother 'let us go to the field' and when ...

Synopsis

A rendering similar to 'Then Cain said to Abel, his brother, "Let's go out to the field." And when….' is preferred to MT, from which the direct quotation, "Let's go out to the field," is missing. The quotation is attested in Hebrew in the Samaritan Pentateuch, נלכה השדה ('Let's go/walk to the field'), and is similarly reflected in the Septuagint, Peshitta, Vulgate, and (less directly) in two Targums. The quotation might have been lost due to scribal error, since both it and the following clause of the Hebrew text end with the same word.
Grp Source Reading Retroversion Gloss V TRV Variant Classes Comments
a MT וַיֹּ֥אמֶר קַ֖יִן אֶל־הֶ֣בֶל אָחִ֑יו - Then Cain said to Abel, his brother, - - - The structure of the Hebrew suggests that Cain is about to say s.th. to Abel. No quotation follows, however.
a Targ וַאֲמַר קַיִן לְהַבַל אֲחֻוהִי ויאמר קין אל הבל אחיו Then Cain said to Abel, his brother, NV - - Targum Onkelos (quoted) lacks the plus; Targum Pseudo-Jonathan adds a long section that includes dialogue (See on BHK below. In addition, Hendel, p. 128 in The Text of Genesis 1-11 indicates that the Palestinian Targums--Neofiti and Pseudo-Jonathan--reflect the plus.).
a 4QGen\b ויאמר קין אל הב]ל אחיו ויה[י ]בהיותם בשד[ה - Then Cain said to Abel, his brother, and while they were in the field NV - - The sequence אחיו ויה[י shows that the plus, which, when present, falls between these two words, is not reflected in the scroll.
b SP ויאמר קין אל הבל אחיו נלכה השדה - Then Cain said to Abel, his brother, "Let us go to the field" V TRV Plus
b LXX καὶ εἶπεν Καιν πρὸς Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πεδίον ויאמר קין אל הבל אחיו נלכה השדה And Kain said to his brother Habel, "Let us go through into the plain." V TRV Plus NETS Translation; cf. Tov-Polak on Vorlage
b Syr ܘܐܡܼܪ ܩܐܝܢ ܠܗܒܝܠ ܐܚܘܗܝ. ܢܪܕܐ ܠܦܩܥܬܐ. ויאמר קין אל הבל אחיו נלכה השדה Then Cain said to Abel, his brother, "Let us go to the field" V TRV Plus
b Vulg dixitque Cain ad Abel fratrem suum egrediamur foras Then Cain said to Abel, his brother, "Let us go forth outside" V TRV Plus

TRV = a translatable variant / variation, a difference from MT that is distinguishable in translation.

Grp Ref Pages Ref. Argument Ref. Conclusion CTP Comments
1 Keil & Delitzsch Vol. 1, 70-71 "What he said is not stated." Either supply 'it' as object of wayyomer ('it' standing for what God had just said) or "we may supply from what follows some such expression as 'let us go into the field,' as the LXX, Sam, Jonathan, and others have done. This is also allowable, so that we need not imagine a gap in the text…." "This supposition is preferable to the former…." read 'Let us go into the field' following LXX, Sam, Jonathan, and others, even though MT is textually sound as it is and these others supply these words by context. amelioration; uses context to supplement (fix?) MT without stating that there is a textual problem. Seems to view the versions as likewise having supplied the quotation by context.
1 Speiser, Genesis 30-31 "The original must have contained Cain's statement, but the text was accidentally omitted in MT, owing, no doubt, to the repeated 'outside' (literally 'the field'); the ancient versions supply the missing clause. Words have dropped from MT by accident. "Versions supply;" Does that mean they preserve the original or do they simply fill the gap? S's language is not completely clear. The plus is included in S's rendering but appears within square brackets. Versions are preferred over MT but the question of the original reading remains open. Biblio: Speiser, E. A. 1962. Genesis: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. Vol. 1, The Anchor Bible. New York: Doubleday.
1 BHK 5 hic compl MSS et Edd interv; ins c SP,LXX,Syr,OL נלכה השדה (vel frt c TargJ TargP לכה ונצה החוצה ); Vulg egrediamur foras There is a gap apparent in MT; read 'Let us go to the field' with some versions, though two Targums may reflect a slightly different Hebrew (with similar meaning) BHK notes that the Old Latin also reflects the plus
1 BHS e mlt Mss Edd hic interv; frt ins c SP,G,S,V נֵלְכָה הַשָׁדֶה cf TJ JII There is a gap apparent in MT; perhaps insert 'Let us go to the field' with some versions
1 Ramban ad loc. ועל דעתי שהוא דבק עם ויהי בהיותם בשדה, כי אמר לו נצא השדה והרג אותו שם בסתר. After quoting Rashi, Ramban writes, "In my opinion it (i.e. the first clause of the verse) is [rather] connected to 'And while they were in the field,' for Cain would have said 'Let's go out to the field' and then killed him there stealthily." Torat Chaim, Vol. 1, 71
2 HPR Vol. 1, 8-9 MT is recommended with a B rating. MT "may be corrupt" but the versions do not reflect the original, either. Translate wymr "in an absolute way," i.e. so that no quotation need follow; thus "Cain talked to Abel his brother…." Translate MT, adjusting the rendering so as to avoid the grammatical requirement of a direct quotation. amelioration of the verb
3 Rashi ad loc. נכנס עמו בדברי ריב 'And he began to quarrel with him' is the implied sense of the first clause of the verse, which carries on the thought of what immediately precedes. Torat Chaim, Vol. 1, 71
Grp Trans. Eng. Rend. [or Gloss] [Other Lang. Rend.] Marginal Note Other Note C TC Comments
n KJV And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, NC - amelioration of the verb, as the Hebrew direct quote frame 'said to' is softened to 'talked with.'
o RV And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, Many ancient authorities have, said unto Abel his brother, Let us go into the field. NC amelioration of the verb
o ASV And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came to pass, NC - amelioration of the verb
p JPS And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother. And it came to pass, NC - amelioration of the verb
q JM But Cain quarrelled [sic.] with his brother, Abel, and NC - amelioration of the verb
r AT Then Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go off into the country." When… C TC Nuance of 'off into the country' seems to match LXX directly.
r RSV Cain said to Abel his brother, "Let us go out to the field." And when Sam Gk Syr Compare Vg: Heb lacks Let us go out to the field. C TC-n
r JB Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let us go out'; and while… 'Let us go out' versions C TC-n
r NAB Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out in the field." When… Hartman 328 (wayyomer qayin 'el-hebel 'ahiw) nelka hassadeh: so Vrs. C TC-n
r NEB Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let us go into the open Country.' While… Let us…country: so Sam.; Heb. om. נֵלְכָה הַשָּׂדֶה + º1 אָחִיו C TC-n
o NASB And Cain *told Abel his brother. And it came about * Lit., said to NC - amelioration of the verb
r TEV Then Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out in the fields." When… Some ancient translations Let's go out in the fields: Hebrew does not have these words. C TC-n
r NIV Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; Masoretic Text does not have "Let's go out to the field." C TC-n
n NKJV Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, Lit. said to NC - amelioration of the verb
n RAV brother; Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac and Vulgate add Let’s go out to the field. NC (*check full rendering) "add" is a key word of the note
r NJB Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let us go out'; and while… 'Let us go out' versions. Hebr. omits. C TC-n
s NJPS Cain said to his brother Abel ... and when Ancient versions, including the Targum, read "Come, let us go out into the field." NC The ellipsis dots are present in the NJPS rendering itself. The marginal note mentions the "Targum," singular. For details see our observations on the Targums in the Textual Evidence chart.
r REB Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let us go out into the country.' Once there… Let us … country: so Samar.; Heb. omits. C TC-n
r NRSV Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field."1 And when 1 Sam Gk Syr Compare Vg: MT lacks Let us go out to the field C TC-n
r CEV Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go for a walk." And when… Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's…walk": most ancient translations; Hebrew "Cain spoke to his brother Abel." C TC-n The marginal note both specifies that CEV has followed the variant AND offers the amelioration "spoke…" that we see in some other translations.
r NLT One day Cain suggested to his brother, "Let's go out into the fields." 1 And while 1 As in Samaritan Pentateuch, Greek and Syriac versions, and Latin Vulgate; Masoretic Text lacks "Let's go out into the fields." C TC-n
p ESV Cain spoke to his Abel brother. Hebrew; Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate add Let us go out to the field. NC
r NET Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field."* While 21 tc … It is more likely that the ancient versions (Samaritan Pentateuch, LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac), which include Cain's words, "Let's go out to the field," preserve the original reading here….This would be an error of virtual homoioteleuton. In older phases of the Hebrew script the sequence יו (yod-vav) on אָחִיו is graphically similar to the final ה (he) on בַּשָּׂדֶה. C TC-n The note is lengthy, discussing the possibility of aposiopesis, a "sudden silence"--a way of understanding MT as it stands. This is ruled out, however, in favor of the variant. The note also spells out the process of homoioteleuton as it would have happened in this situation.
r TNIV Let’s go out to the field. Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; Masoretic Text does not have Let’s go out to the field. C TC-n (*check full rendering)

Description

After the first clause of the verse, MT וַיֹּ֥אמֶר קַ֖יִן אֶל־הֶ֣בֶל אָחִ֑יו (lit. 'and Cain said to Abel his brother'), the reader expects a direct quotation (cf. NJPS). The absence of one in the traditional Hebrew text, which follows immediately with וַֽיְהִי֙ בִּהְיוֹתָ֣ם בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה 'And when they were in the field,' raises the question of whether the quotation has been omitted by accident. The Samaritan Pentateuch holds the quotation, נלכה השדה "Let us go to the field," and the Septuagint, Peshitta, and Vulgate appear to reflect just such a text base. Among the Targums, Onkelos lacks the quotation but Pseudo-Jonathan and Neofiti seem to reflect it, even though their analysis is complicated by lengthy additions in this context (cf. Hendel, The Text of Genesis 1-11, 128; NJPS margin). The fragmentary 4QGenb witnesses to a text like that of MT.

Often preferring to read MT, Keil and Delitzsch open with the suggestion of supplying 'it' in place of a quote and allowing that Cain told Abel about the Lord's pronouncements, which we read in the immediately preceding context; Keil and Delitzsch end, however, by favoring the quotation that is found in SP and reflected in several of the versions. The debate is an old one. Rashi was willing to allow that ויאמר connected with the previous context and implied that Cain began to argue with his brother (presumably in response to the negative pronouncement from the Lord), whereas Ramban, after quoting Rashi, stated that he preferred to connect ויאמר with the following context, positing that Cain must have first made the suggestion "נצא השדה" ('let us go out to the field') and then killed his brother (Torat Chaim, Vol. 1, 71). In general terms, Speiser (Genesis, 30-31), BHK, and BHS give the textual evidence for accepting the plus reflected in the versions though not without deliberations, and HPR expresses a preference for adjusting the verb according to the needs of context, thus eliminating the grammatical need for a quotation.

Several translations that do not adopt the attested quotation follow MT but remove the difficulty it entails by choosing verbs that do not require the quotation: KJV and NKJV 'talked with'; RV, ASV, and NASB 'told'; JPS and ESV 'spoke (un)to'; JM 'quarreled with.' Only NJPS, with 'said,' models MT precisely, using ellipsis dots to mark the place of the missing direct quotation. A significantly large number of translations do adopt the quotation 'Let us go to the filed' (or similar) as it is attested in SP and several ancient versions: AT, RSV, JB, NAB, NEB, TEV, NIV, NJB, NRSV, REB, CEV NLT, and NET.

Evaluation

The function of ויאמר in numerous similar contexts within biblical Hebrew narrative is to introduce direct speech. The basic pattern of 'and he said' plus quotation is so common in biblical Hebrew that the breaking of that pattern here becomes a strong signal of textual mishap, particularly when there is wide attestation of the missing quote in the versions and even in the Samaritan Pentateuch. The alternatives to adopting the plus, נלכה השדה 'let us go to the field,' are (1) adjusting the verb so as not to require a quote and (2) modeling the difficulty of MT in a literal way (cf. NJPS). The latter recognizes but does not solve the problem; the former covers the problem via amelioration, which amounts to a kind of semantic conjecture.

While it cannot be proven that נלכה השדה is original (it is theoretically possible that it was supplied at an early time to fill a gap that was left when a still earlier quote was lost), it is reasonable to think that it might be original, particularly since the repetition of שדה (at the end of נלכה השדה and at the end of the next clause in MT וַֽיְהִי֙ בִּהְיוֹתָ֣ם בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה) sets up a complex kind of homoioteleuton, wherein the first element of two with similar endings would have been accidentally omitted (cf. NET margin). It is for good reason, then, that a high number of modern translations render the quotation, נלכה השדה 'Let's go out to the field,' as an integral part of the biblical text.

Common Text

נֵלְכָה הַשָּׂדֶה (vqi1cp{1}Ct הלך; Pa הַ ncsma שָׂדֶה) 'Let's go out to the field'
Textual Evidence
4QGenb Ulrich, Eugene, ed. 2009. The Biblical Qumran Scrolls: Transcriptions and Textual Variants. Vetus Testamentum, Supplements, 134. Leiden: Brill.
LXX Rahlfs, A., ed. 1935. Septuaginta, id est Vetus Testamentum graece iuxta LXX interpretes. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

Septuaginta, Vetus Testamentum graecum auctoritate academiae scientiarum gottingensis editum. 1931-. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

MT Freedman, David Noel, ed. 1998. The Leningrad Codex: A Facsimile Edition. Grand Rapids / Leiden: Eerdmans / Brill.

SP von Gall, August F., ed. 1914-1918. Der hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner. 4 vols. Giessen / Berlin (repr. 1966): Alfred Toepelmann.
Syr Jenner, K. D., and Arie van der Kooij, eds. 1966-. The Old Testament in Syriac according to the Peshitta Version. Leiden: Brill.
Targ The Aramaic Targums according to Cohen, Menachem, ed. 1992-. Mikra'ot Gedolot 'Haketer'. Ramat-Gan: Bar Ilan University (as reproduced in the database of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project) with variants from Sperber, Alexander, ed. 1959-73. The Bible in Aramaic: Based on Old Manuscripts and Printed Texts. 4 in 5 vols. Leiden: Brill.
Vulg Weber, R., ed. 1994. Biblia Sacra iuxta vulgatam versionem. 4th ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
Published Evaluations
BHK Kittel, R., and P. Kahle, eds. 1937/62. Biblia Hebraica. 3/7 ed. Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt.
BHS Elliger, K., and W. Rudolph, eds. 1967/77, 1983. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
HPR Barthélemy, Dominique, et al. 1979-1980. Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project / Compte rendu préliminaire et provisoire sur le travail d'analyse textuelle de l'Ancien Testament hébreu. 5 vols. New York, N.Y.: United Bible Societies.
Keil & Delitzsch Keil, C. F. and F. Delitzsch. 1866-91. Commentary on the Old Testament. 10 vols. Peabody, Mass. (repr. 2006): Hendrickson Publishers.
Ramban The biblical commentary of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Ramban) according to Katzenellenbogen, Mordechai L., ed. 1986. תורת חיים / Torat Chaim. Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook; מקראות גדולות מאורות / Mikra'ot Gedolot Me'orot. 1996-2001. Jerusalem: B. Brukhman.
Rashi The biblical commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Yitsḥaki (Rashi) according to Cohen, Menachem, ed. 1992-. 'מקראות גדולות 'הכתר / Mikra'ot Gedolot 'Haketer'. Ramat-Gan: Bar Ilan University; Katzenellenbogen, Mordechai L., ed. 1986. תורת חיים / Torat Chaim. Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook; מקראות גדולות מאורות / Mikra'ot Gedolot Me'orot. 1996-2001. Jerusalem: B. Brukhman.
Speiser, Genesis Speiser, E. A. 1962. Genesis: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. The Anchor Bible, 1. New York, N.Y.: Doubleday.
Modern Translations
KJV 1611 The Authorized Version / King James Version (London)
RV 1885 The Revised Version (Oxford / Cambridge)
ASV 1901 American Standard Version (Nashville)
JPS 1917 The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text (Philadelphia / New York)
JM 1924 A New Translation of the Bible, trans. by James Moffatt (London / New York)
AT 1931 An American Translation (Chicago)
RSV 1952 Revised Standard Version (London / Glasgow)
JB 1966 The Jerusalem Bible (London)
NAB 1970 The New American Bible (New York / London)
NEB 1970 The New English Bible (Oxford / Cambridge)
NASB 1971 New American Standard Bible (Carol Stream)
TEV 1976 Good News Bible / Today's English Version (New York)
NIV 1978 New International Version (Grand Rapids)
NKJV 1982 The New King James Version (Nashville)
RAV 1982 Revised Authorized Version (London)
NJB 1985 The New Jerusalem Bible (London)
NJPS 1985 Tanakh, The New JPS Translation (Philadelphia)
REB 1989 The Revised English Bible (Oxford / Cambridge)
NRSV 1989 New Revised Standard Version (New York / Oxford)
CEV 1995 Contemporary English Version (New York)
NLT 1996 New Living Translation (Wheaton)
ESV 2001 English Standard Version (Wheaton)
NET 2004 New English Translation (Richardson)
TNIV 2005 Today's New International Version (Colorado Springs)