"Let us sing to the Lord": The Biblical Odes in the Codex Alexandrinus

James A Miller, Marquette University


This dissertation looks at two sets of what should be redundant texts within a single ancient biblical manuscript---the fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus. The manuscript contains the bulk of what we consider today to be Bible , but also witnesses to some other works that at present are not widely considered a part of the biblical canon. Among this latter material is a collection of hymns or poems called the "Biblical Odes," which consists for the most part of brief excerpts from books of the biblical canon (e.g., Exod 15:1-19---an excerpt containing the phrase quoted in this dissertation's title). This collection is the earliest known manuscript witness to the Biblical Odes and so is of special interest with regard to the history of its manuscript tradition. A cursory reading reveals numerous instances of divergence between the text of the Biblical Odes and the portions of books from within the larger canon of the codex to which they correspond. Following after other scholars who have noted such divergences, I set out to document them more thoroughly and to offer a possible explanation for them. Incidental scribal error is considered as a hypothesis explaining the divergences and is rejected as inadequate. An alternate hypothesis, one based on a supposition of a leading authority on the Biblical Odes---Heinrich Schneider, who also noted divergences---is explored as a more appropriate explanatory framework for them. This supposition---namely that the divergences are to be explained as owing to the use of variant Vorlagen for the two sets of texts---proves to be the more appropriate explanatory framework. Having provisionally established Schneider's supposition as the more credible explanation for the divergences, I conclude by addressing its relevance to study of the Biblical Odes and related fields, namely to fields of Septuagint studies, and history of worship: (1) an established manuscript tradition for the Biblical Odes can be proximately projected, via the supposition that the divergences in evidence in the texts contained in Codex A owe to use of a preexisting Biblical Odes manuscript for the Biblical Odes portion of the manuscript, into at least the era preceding Codex A's production; (2) Septuagint and biblical scholars need to canvas and incorporate the text of the Biblical Odes as witness to heretofore overlooked fifth-century readings; and (3) a pre-fifth-century Biblical Odes tradition, though such can be inferred from citations in ancient authors, receives additional, firmer, testimony with appreciation of the fact that an established manuscript tradition likely preceded the transcription of Codex A.

Recommended Citation

Miller, James A, ""Let us sing to the Lord": The Biblical Odes in the Codex Alexandrinus" (2006). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3231313.