← Back to index of posts

Starting on Hosea

Posted on Dec 22, 2018

About Hosea

One of the earliest of the prophetic books, Hosea has 14 chapters, with versification in the NRSV and JPS differing towards the beginning and end.

Hebrew Source

As for the rest of the OEB Hebrew Bible, we are using the Masoretic Text as found in the Leningrad Codex and transcribed in the Westminster Leningrad Codex.

However, as the NET Bible translators note:

The textual problems in Hosea are virtually unparalleled in the OT. The Masoretic Text (MT), represented by the Leningrad Codex (c. A.D. 1008), which served as the basis for both BHK and BHS, and the Aleppo Codex (c. A.D. 952), are textually corrupt by all accounts and have a multitude of scribal errors. Many medieval Masoretic MSS preserve textual variants that differ from the Leningrad and Aleppo Codices. The Qumran materials (4QXIIc,d,g) contain numerous textual variants that differ from the MT; unfortunately, these texts are quite fragmentary (frequently in the very place that an important textual problem appears). The textual tradition and translation quality of the LXX and the early Greek recensions (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion) is mixed; in some places they are inferior to the MT but in other places they preserve a better reading. The textual apparatus of BHK and BHS contains many proposed emendations based on the ancient versions (Greek, Syriac, Latin, Aramaic) that often appear to be superior readings than what is preserved in the MT. In numerous cases, the MT readings are so difficult morphologically, syntactically, and contextually that conservative conjectural emendations are necessary to make sense of the text. Most major English versions (e.g., KJV, ASV, RSV, NEB, NAB, NASB, NIV, TEV, NKJV, NJPS, NJB, NRSV, REB, NCV, CEV, NLT) adopt (either occasionally or frequently) textual variants reflected in the versions and occasionally adopt conservative conjectural emendations proposed in BHK and/or BHS. However, many of the textual problems in Hosea are so difficult that the English versions frequently are split among themselves. With this in mind, the present translation of Hosea must necessarily be viewed as only preliminary. Further work on the text and translation of Hosea is needed, not only in terms of the NET BIBLE but in Hosea studies in general. NET Bible notes

Base English Translation

As for the other books of the Bible, we are using a base English translation which is in the public domain and editing it, rather than starting from scratch. This has proven to be a great time-saver and without it, the OEB would likely be impossible.

For Hosea, as for many of our other books from the Old Testament, we are using a translation by Charles Foster Kent (1867 - 1925), who was Wolsey Professor of Biblical Literature at Yale. He translated the various books of the Hebrew Bible a number of times for differing audiences, for Hosea the relevant volume is Student’s Old Testament: Sermons, Epistles and Apocalypses of Israel’s Prophets (1910).

Professor Kent’s work has many of the obvious defects of the scholarship of his era, however it is the work of a serious scholar and is less deliberately anachronistic and tied to traditional renderings than contemporaneous translations such as the American Standard Version (1901) and Jewish Publication Society Version (1917).

Next Steps

The next step in the process is to turn the base English translation into USFM, and commit it to our Git repository. At the time of writing, this is about half done. After than, we turn to updating it to become part of the OEB.