Dr. Moses Gaster, the eminent Hebrew scholar and archaeologist, describes
in Tuesday's Times the discovery of what he believes on good ground to be the authentic text of the Samaritan version of the Book of Joshua, which had been lost to the world for two thousand years. Three hundred• years ago Scaliger obtained an Ambit, chronicle, based on this text, from some Samaritans in Cairo, but failed to secure the original, the existence of which has been denied by Biblical scholars. Last year, however, Dr. Gaster, while visiting the Samaritans at Nablus, was given a copy by the High Priest, and purchased a second copy from the verger of the sanctuary. The text of the Samaritan version is substantially identical with our Canonical or Massoretic version up to the end of chap. xiii., after which there are radical differences, and omissions of incidents derogatory to sacred history or discrediting the claims of the Samaritans. But as to the genuineness of the text Dr. Gaster has no doubt, alike on the grounds of style, on its having served as the basis of the Arabic chronicle, and on its close correspondence with the narrative of Joseph us, who evidently used it as a genuine source. The internal evidence of the text and the history of the Samaritans induce Dr. Gaster to fix the date as prior to the middle of the second century B.C. The High Priest seemed quite unaware of the importance of the book, which apparently has not been pre- served in any old manuscripts; but in view of the isolation of the Samaritans, Dr. Gaster considers this in no way to invalidate the authenticity of the text, which with intro- duction, translation, and notes is appearing in the current issue of the Journal of the German Oriental Society.