I almost called this post “A Text Critical Laboratory” because of what we can learn from omen series about certain classes of text critical problems.
Most of the omens in the first 22 lines of CT 40 35-37(K. 3836+7211+) fill more than one line on the tablet. Superficially, line 11 looks like an exception:
If (a king or a prince a chariot) rides and he splits open his left side or near his left side and blood [flows . . .
There is only room for, at best, three or four signs after the break at the end on the line. This is certainly not enough room for the kind of apodosis we would expect when we compare this protasis with surrounding omens. The next omen begins on line 12. But Nötscher, 20, n. 1, provides an interesting note, “There is an additional line in K. 3944 that, without doubt, provided the interpretation of the omen (my translation).” K. 3944 is a fragmentary duplicate of K. 3836+. My guess is that Nötscher could not read anything, or anything meaningful, on this additional line. Otherwise, he would have told us what he saw.
The scribe of K. 3836+ apparently didn’t see Nötscher‘s missing text on the source tablet or somehow skipped or omitted it. Unless the few missing signs at the end of line 11 read otherwise, there is no indication that the tablet from which K. 3836+ was copied had an unreadable line. Scribes would often write GAZ (ḫepû), “broken” if they couldn’t read something they were coping. So, it is likely that somewhere in the history of this omen some part of its text went missing. The part of the text that went missing is not just any part of the text but the part of the text that provided the (full?) portent of the omen.
It’s things like this that remind me that one can never be sure, when faced with differing witnesses to what otherwise appears to be the same text, what is an addition and what is an omission. And if an omission, one cannot be certain if that omission was purposeful.
See yesterday’s post.