Tracing the Pre-Massoretic text of the Book of Habakkuk

The Book of Habakkuk is well-known for using a very sophisticated language in terms of semantics, poetics, or rhetorical structure, causing tremendous difficulties to later interpreters, both ancient and modern. For this reason, from a diachronic perspective, textual deviations from the canonical Massoretic tradition could be mere relics of the perplexity of confused translators or scribes. This study argues, however, that there are cases where the independent, divergent textual traditions coalesce into a reading that could be considered a historically more reliable variant than the reading survived within the Massoretic Text. This appears to be the case with בגוים in Hab 1:5 and היין in Hab 2:5, for which three independent traditions presuppose a common pre-Massoretic ancient alternative reading.