Professor Sanders and I agree on a great many things, the most important of which is that textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible is currently an important and exciting field of study. Our main disagreement is about whether or not scholars should attempt to produce a fully critical text of the Hebrew Bible—as opposed to diplomatic critical editions of the Masoretic Text. Sanders writes that “The project is at best premature.” I think that it’s not. There are many “stealth” critical texts already out there in the form of commentaries and translations (including nearly all English translations). Why not do the job openly and with full discussion of all the issues and problems involved?

Let’s resolve to pursue this project with full awareness that the product will not be definitive, that it will be an ongoing task and that it will be improved by each generation. Professor Sanders’s discussion of the preferences individual scholars show for specific variants is part of the process of scholarly argument that conduces to this end.

I do not wish to denigrate the value of the other text-critical projects in process, such as the Hebrew University Bible and Biblia Hebraica Quinta. But there’s room for a third project—indeed one is already in the works, the Oxford Hebrew Bible (to be published by Oxford University Press)—which will contribute to the reinvigoration of this field of study.