Friday, November 19, 2010

Hab. 2:4

I've been reading through some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and today in particular, I was reading through 1QpHab (A commentary on Habakkuk) and found something interesting with regard to Habakkuk 2:4. The tradition of this text is not unanimous, as seen in the differences in the MT and LXX:

MT (2:2-4)
2 Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. 4 Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

LXX (2:2-4)
2 And the Lord answered me and said: Write a vision, and clearly on a tablet, so that the reader might pursue them. 3 For there is still a vision for an appointed time, and it will rise up at the end and not in vain. If it should tarry, wait for it, for when it comes it will come and delay. 4 If it draws back, my soul is not pleased in it. But the just shall live by my faith.

Hab. 2:4b in particular is cited three times in the NT: Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, and Heb. 10:38 with all sorts of interesting questions surrounding those passages. It makes me think that this verse in Habakkuk was received in various but also in important ways, evinced, for example, by how Paul goes to it twice in important discussions regarding Law and faith. Now, how does this connect to the Dead Sea Scrolls? While the translators and early NT writers seemed to take this verse as an interesting point of departure for all sorts of discussions, the 1QpHab has only three lines about this verse that's relatively straightforward:

Col. VIII, 1-3
1 This refers to all those who obey the Law among the Jews whom 2 God will rescue from the place of judgment, because of their suffering and their loyalty 3 to the Teacher of Righteousness.

This is interesting because with Paul and the other witnesses, the big deal is with the "subject" of the faithfulness, i.e., individual believers, a Christian community, God, etc. But here, the focus seems to be on none of that, but rather on being loyal to the Teacher of Righteousness. It just made me wonder how else the Dead Sea community modulated faithfulness as faithfulness to their Teacher.

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