by Tavis Bohlinger*
Yesterday we celebrated International LXX Day by publishing an essay on The Origin of the LXX. Today we are pleased to present the second half of that essay, because, well, we just love the Septuagint here at Logos (this proves it).
Enjoy the read, and be sure to bookmark this page for the detailed LXX bibliography at the end, to help you in your future research efforts in the Greek scriptures.
Ancient Life and the Septuagint
In the introduction to Rahlfs’ critical edition of the LXX (1935), he explains the significance of the Greek translations in ancient history. “The LXX proved of supreme importance in the work of the preservation and expansion of Judaism. . . . the LXX caused them to remain continuously faithful to the Law and to the other Sacred Scriptures, while it also enabled those who were not Jews to study these writings.”1
Whereas previously only devoted proselytes willing to learn Hebrew could directly access the teachings of the Jewish scriptures, in the three-hundred year period between the initial translation of the Torah and the completion of the rest of the books access was gradually made available to the Greek-speaking people in Hellenistic culture to study the ancient writings for themselves.
Later Greek Translations
The initial translation of the Pentateuch (Old Greek or OG) from Hebrew into Greek was a momentous occasion in and of itself. Yet, the effect of the OG on the translation work of the other books of the Hebrew Bible is also significant. Tov outlines four influences the OG had upon the rest of the translation work from Hebrew to Greek.
- The vocabulary of the Greek Torah continued in translation of later books.
- The Greek Torah served as a lexicon for later translators who often turned to that translation when encountering difficult Hebrew words.
- Quotations and allusions to the Torah in later books were often phrased in Greek in a manner identical to the translation of the Torah.
- The contents of the Greek Torah often influenced the wording of later translations on the exegetical level.2
As translators and revisers in later centuries leading up to the time of Christ and beyond continued to translate, correct, and amend their work, the OG was the standard by which their efforts were checked. The measure to which Tov’s assertions are correct has yet to be seen, however he is right to affirm textual implications of the OG. Still, the sociological impact of the LXX as a whole was even greater.
The LXX, especially the OG, had become entrenched in Jewish life by the time of Christ. But after the arrival of the church and its subsequent flourishing as a minority group, the Christians took hold of the sacred writings as their own. According to Rahlfs, “the earliest Christian communities were formed to a large extent from Jews of the Dispersion, while the LXX, being already everywhere widespread and well-known, was simply adopted by the Christians as the Church’s Bible.”3
Yet even in the different groups’ perspective on the holy writings there was disagreement. According to Bickerman, “The Jews always distinguished the Torah carefully from the other sacred books. In the Jewish tradition, the Greek Pentateuch alone was the authorized version . . . For it alone Philo claimed divine guidance. But for the Christians the prophets and the hagiographa were much more important than the law, obsolete under the new dispensation.”4 Although the diaspora Jews loved their Greek Bible, it wouldn’t be long before they rejected it completely due to its use against them by Christians in theological disputes and the establishing of the Hebrew text near the close of the first century.5
One of the major conflicts between Jews and early Christians was the interpretation of Isaiah 7:14. The Greek translation of Isaiah 7:14 was a key point in Justin Martyr’s debates with the Jews.6 He relied exclusively on the Greek version, which translates the ambiguous Hebrew word עַלמָה, “marriageable girl, young woman”7 with παρθενος, “virgin.”8 The Jewish community reacted decisively against the persistence of Martyr and other apologists who used the cherished Jewish translation. According to Müller, “When the Christian church from the middle of the second century openly began to argue, on the basis of the wording of the Greek translation, against the wording of the Hebrew text, Judaism dissociated itself from the old Greek translation, probably in connection with the synod of Jamnia.”9
In order to replace the once-revered LXX,10 other literal Greek translations were produced by Aquila (128 AD), Symmachus (end of 2nd c. AD) and Theodotion (end of 2nd c. AD), the latter the result of a revisionist tradition begun in the first century BCE. According to some, Aquila, a Jewish proselyte, may have intended to create a Greek translation so literal that it could only be understood by those familiar with Hebrew,11 which would have excluded most members of the Christian demographic by that time.
There are additional influences of the LXX on Christian communities worth noting. First of all, once Christians started using the Greek scriptures in public forums, they faced opposition targeting the awkwardness of the Greek itself.12 “Christian apologists had a hard time in vindicating this Greek spoken by the Holy Ghost against gentile ridicule.”13 The emperor Julian wrote a polemical letter against the Christians that is “impregnated with the language of the Septuagint.”14 The koine15 Greek of the LXX which made the scriptures so accessible also had the negative effect of being a source of derision.
Second, the lack of understanding of the Hebrew language by the majority of the Christian population meant that their doctrine was based upon the Greek documents on hand, not the Hebrew. The impact of the LXX on the New Testament has recently been a focus of scholarly attention. Paul seems to have relied upon the Greek scriptures when citing the OT. The Gospel writers often quote Jesus in Greek and in accord with the LXX, even though he likely spoke in Aramaic. According to Harrison, “Few of the Greek Fathers were conversant with Hebrew, so they read their Old Testaments in Greek and built their homilies on this text.”16 This has important and pervasive ramifications for patristic exegesis and theology that have yet to be explored in modern biblical studies.
Finally, there are examples of the LXX being used by those outside of Christianity for philosophical and historical purposes. Numenius, “an avowed disciple of Plato,”17 was a syncretist in the last half of the second century who sought philosophical truth in manifold systems of religious thought, including the Jewish cultus. In his writings, he refers to ο μεν γε ων, which is probably sourced from the LXX rendering of Exodus 3:14: εγω ειμι ο ων, “I am who I am.”18 Josephus also paraphrased portions of the LXX in his Antiquities of the Jews (cf. 12.12-118).19 Unlike Philo, however, he did not grant the LXX inspired status.20 Clearly, the Jews and Christians of the first century were not the only ones who acknowledged the usefulness of the Septuagint; “the secular community of Hellenists recognized its importance as well, including Philo, Paul, and Josephus among others.”21
Modern Studies and the Septuagint
The importance of the LXX is not confined to the few hundred centuries before and after the Christ-event but is critical to modern studies in four main areas. First, the LXX is a primary witness to the original text of the Old Testament.22
Second, the LXX is an important witness to the state of post-classical Greek used in the Hellenistic era.23 Our understanding of the Greek language as a whole and in perpetual transformation is expanded through the LXX.
Third, the LXX informs our understanding of Jewish thinking in the few centuries before Christ.24
Fourth, a proper view of the Christian understanding of “the scriptures” in the centuries after Christ demands intimate knowledge of the LXX.25 For these reasons alone, the importance of the Septuagint to modern scholarship cannot be overstated. And yet, as the opening quote by Deissmann stated, this area of study has been neglected.26
The accessibility of the LXX thanks to technology has made an impact on modern studies never before seen in history, yet the lack of understanding about the LXX is a danger. Advanced software tools and new critical editions such as the French initiative, La Bible d’Alexandrie, the Göttingen edition,27 the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS), and the Lexham English Septuagint (LES) are exciting developments. But for anyone who uses these tools, there must be a conscious avoidance to view the LXX as a single, cohesive work. Williams makes the important point that “the earliest use of [the term] Septuagint as a translation is from 1633,”28 while prior to that the reference was used exclusively for the translators as people. According to Williams, “the term the Septuagint was simply unavailable as a label for a Greek translation of any scriptures during the period of the Second Temple, New Testament, Rabbis or Church Fathers, and perhaps even later.”29
Failure to comprehend the plurality of the translations that make up the LXX can result in misleading conclusions. For example, Jesus’ or Paul’s use of the Greek translations may have been limited to certain books or restricted in accessibility, affecting accuracy in citation. Their ancient concept of the term “Septuagint” and “scriptures” was different from the misguided sense of a unified codex, and modern biblical studies must not take that for granted. As Bickerman warns, “The student of the Greek Bible must always distinguish between the Pentateuch, the Septuagint in the proper sense, and the other scriptural books rendered into Greek.”30
Furthermore, for modern studies to be profitable, some consensus must be reached with regard to origins. Lagarde’s working hypothesis may dominate the field presently, but others warn against the undue attention it places on text-critical issues.31 There are important theological and sociological contributions to be made from LXX studies as well which have yet to be exploited.32
This essay has sought to present a brief survey of the origin and influence of the Septuagint. First, the various theories so far offered to establish the purpose for and place of the work have arrived at beneficial conclusions. However, an eclectic approach that considers all the factors in Alexandria in the 3rd century BC will yield the greatest value to scholarship. Tov’s prioritization of internal over external evidence is sound and should be followed in future studies, with appropriate modifications. More work needs to be done in determining as much as possible the translation history of the books outside of the OG.
Secondly, the influence of the Greek translations was considered in various spheres. The OG can be demonstrated to have affected the translation of other books. Also, Jewish/Christian hostilities led to the abandonment of the LXX by the Jews and the production of new translations and revisions, since the Christians adopted the LXX for their own purposes in worship, teaching and apologetics. Additionally, the relevance of the LXX for modern study is tremendous. But such study must be undertaken by scholars who are not only well-versed in the languages and history but also able to navigate the complexities of a field fraught with uncertainties, even at the level of defining the term “Septuagint.”
Future scholarly efforts may tend towards either textual, historical or theological concerns, but the essence of the LXX may be most clearly understood through the exegetical approach utilized by the ancient rabbis: “For them, as for the ‘Seventy,’ Philo, the Dead Sea sectarians and church fathers, Scripture was not a monument of the dead past but a way of their own life.”33 The same must be said for the current generation of scholars, pastors and laypeople.34 I hope that future scholarship will become invigorated by the profitability inherent in the study of the Septuagint for the sake of our understanding of ancient Jewish and Christian theology, and for the daily life of faith of all who approach the text with humility today, scholars and non-specialists alike.
*I would like to publicly thank Marieke Dhont for her many insightful contributions to this essay. Marieke earned her PhD from KU Leuven and Université catholique de Louvain, and is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Her first monograph, entitled Style and Context of Old Greek Job, will appear with Brill in 2018.
The LXX discount code will get you 30% off any or all of the following LXX resources, but only today, February 9, until 5pm (PST):
- Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint: H.B. Swete Edition
- Swete, H. B., The Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint
- Conybeare, F. C., Grammar of Septuagint Greek
- Ottley, Richard R., A Handbook to the Septuagint
- Aitken, James K., T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint
- Müller, Mogens, The First Bible of the Church: A Plea for the Septuagint
- Hengel, Martin, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of its Canon
- Dines, Jennifer, The Septuagint
- Thackeray, Henry, A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint
New to Logos, or unfamiliar with its capabilities in all things LXX? Check out this video on the LXX Translation Ring:
Aejmelaeus, Anelli. “What Can We Know About the Hebrew Vorlage of the Septuagint?” In On the Trail of the Septuagint Translators. Edited by Anneli Aejmelaeus, 71-106. Dudley, MA: Peeters, 2007.
Barthelemy, Dominique. Les Devanciers d’Aquila. Supplement to Vetus Testamentum, 10. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1963.
Beck, John A. Translators as Storytellers: A Study in Septuagint Translation Technique. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2000.
Bickerman, E. J. Studies in Jewish and Christian History: A New Edition in English Including The God of the Maccabees. 2 volumes. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.
Blenkinsopp, Joseph. The Pentateuch: An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Brown, John Pairman. “The Septuagint as a Source of the Greek Loan-words in the Targums.” Biblica 70, no. 2 (1989): 194-216.
Collins, Nina L. The Library in Alexandria and the Bible in Greek. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.
Combs, William W. “The Transmission-History of the Septuagint.” Bibliotheca Sacra 146, no. 583 (Jul 1989): 256-269.
Deissmann, Adolf. The Philology of the Greek Bible: Its Present and Future. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908.
Dell’Acqua, Anna Passoni. “Translating as a Means of Interpreting: The Septuagint and Translation in Ptolemaic Egypt.” In Die Septuaginta – Texte, Theologien, Einflusse. Edited by Wolfgang Kraus and Martin Karrer, 322-339. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010.
DeSilva, David A. “Reading the Bible at Qumran, Alexandria, and Ephesus.” Ashland Theological Journal 36 (2004): 18-41.
Dines, Jennifer M. The Septuagint. New York: T&T Clark, 2004.
Dodd, C. H. The Bible and the Greeks. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1935.
Gentry, Peter J. “The Septuagint and the Text of the Old Testament.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 16, no. 2 (2006): 193-218.
———. “The Text of the Old Testament.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52, no. 1 (Mar 2009): 20-45.
Gooding, David Willoughby. “Aristeas and Septuagint Origins: A Review of Recent Studies.” Vetus Testamentum 13, no. 4 (Oct 1963): 357-379.
Graetz, Heinrich. History of the Jews. 6 volumes. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1891.
Greenspoon, Leonard. “At the Beginning: The Septuagint as a Jewish Bible Translation.” In Translation is Required: The Septuagint in Retrospect and Prospect. Edited by Robert J. V. Hiebert, 159-69. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010.
Hackett, H. B. “The Greek Version of the Pentateuch.” Bibliotheca Sacra 4, no. 13 (Feb 1847): 189-196.
Harrison, Everett F. “The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies: Part One.” Bibliotheca Sacra 112, no. 448 (Oct 1955): 345-355.
———. “The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies: Part Two.” Bibliotheca Sacra 113, no. 449 (Jan 1956): 38-45.
Hengel, Martin. The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of its Canon. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.
Jellico, Sidney. The Septuagint and Modern Study. Oxford: Clarendon, 1968.
———. “Septuagint Studies in the Current Century.” Journal of Biblical Literature 88, no. 2 (Jan 1969): 191-199.
Jobes, Karen H. and Moisés Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000.
———. “When God Spoke Greek: The Place of the Greek Bible in Evangelical Scholarship.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 16, no. 2 (2006): 220-235.
Koehler, Ludwig, and Walter Baumgartner, eds. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. 5 volumes. Revised by Walter Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm. Translated and edited by M. E. J. Richardson. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994–2000.
Law, Timothy M. When God Spoke Greek. Oxford: OUP, 2013.
Lust, Johan, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie. Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint. Revised ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2003.
McLay, Timothy R. The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2003.
Metzger, Bruce M. “Important Early Translations of the Bible.” Bibliotheca Sacra 150, no. 597 (Jan 1993): 36-49.
Müller, Mogens. The First Bible of the Church: A Plea for the Septuagint. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996.
Peters, Melvin K. H. “Septuagint.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary. 6 volumes. Edited by David N. Freedman, et al., 5:1093-1104. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
———. “Why Study the Septuagint?” Biblical Archaeologist 49, no. 3 (Spring 1986), 174-181.
Porter, Stanley. “Septuagint/Greek Old Testament.” In Dictionary of New Testament Background. Edited by Craig A. Evans and Stanley Porter, 1099-1106. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
Rahlfs, A. Septuaginta: Id est Vetus Testamentus graece iuxta LXX interpretes. 2 volumes. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1935.
Roth, Cecil. “Septuagint.” In Encyclopedia Judaica. Edited by Cecil Roth, et al., 14:1178. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing, 1972.
Schniedewind, William M. Society and the Promise to David: The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1-17. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Shutt, R. J. H. “Letter of Aristeas.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 volumes. Edited by James H. Charlesworth., 2:7-35. New York: Doubleday, 1985.
Stern, Menahem. Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism. 3 volumes. Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1980.
Swete, Henry Barclay. An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914.
Thackeray, Henry St. John. A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909.
Tov, Emanuel. “The Impact of the Septuagint Translation of the Torah on the Translation of the Other Books.” In The Greek and Hebrew Bible: Collected Essays on the Septuagint. Edited by Emanuel Tov, 183-194. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.
———. “Loan-words, Homophony and Transliterations in the Septuagint.” Biblica 60, no. 2 (1979): 216-236.
———. “The Nature of the Large-scale Differences Between the LXX and MT S T V, Compared with Similar Evidence in Other Sources.” In The Earliest Text of the Hebrew Bible: The Relationship between the Masoretic Text and the Hebrew Base of the Septuagint Reconsidered. Edited by Adrian Schenker, 121-144. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.
———. “The Septuagint.” In Mikra : text, translation, reading and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in ancient Judaism and early Christianity, edited by Martin Jan Mulder, 161-88. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1988.
———. The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research. Jerusalem: Simor Ltd., 1981.
———. “Reflections on the Septuagint with Special Attention Paid to the Post-Pentateuchal Translations.” In Die Septuaginta – Texte, Theologien, Einflusse. Edited by Wolfgang Kraus and Martin Karrer, 3-22. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010.
———. “The Qumran Hebrew Texts and the Septuagint – an Overview.” In Die Septuaginta – Entstehung, Sprache, Geschichte. Edited by Siegried Kreuzer, Martin Meiser and Marcus Sigismund, 3-17. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.
Van der Meer, Michael N. “The Natural and Geographical Context of the Septuagint: Some Preliminary Observations.” In Die Septuaginta – Entstehung, Sprache, Geschichte. Edited by Siegried Kreuzer, Martin Meiser and Marcus Sigismund, 387-20. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.
Williams, Peter J. “The Bible, the Septuagint, and the Apocrypha: A Consideration of their Singularity.” In Studies on the Text and Versions of the Hebrew Bible in Honour of Robert Gordon. Edited by Geoffrey Khan and Diana Lipton, 169-80. Leiden, The Netherland: Brill, 2012.
Wright III, Benjamin G. “Moving Beyond Translating a Translation: Reflections on A New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS).” In Translation is Required: The Septuagint in Retrospect and Prospect. Edited by Robert J. Hiebert, 23-39. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010.
- A. Rahlfs, Septuaginta: Id est Vetus Testamentus graece iuxta LXX interpretes, 2 vols. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1935), xxiii.
- Emanuel Tov, “The Impact of the Septuagint Translation of the Torah on the Translation of the Other Books,” in The Greek and Hebrew Bible: Collected Essays on the Septuagint, ed. Emanuel Tov (New York: Brill, 1999), 183.
- Rahlfs, xxiii. It would be a mistake, however, to think that the earliest Christians had a clear understanding of the origin of their beloved Greek translations. According to Williams, 177, “Whether or not translations of books beyond the Pentateuch shared close historical origins with the translation of books of the Pentateuch, we do not know what degree these translations were perceived in the first century of Christianity as having common origins.”
- Bickerman, 165-66. He later adds, “it was on account of the contents and not of the style that Christian readers liked Esther, Judith and Tobit, but shunned Leviticus and Numbers” (Bickerman, 1:171).
- William W. Combs, “The Transmission-History of the Septuagint,” Bibliotheca Sacra 146, no. 583 (Jul 1989): 256.
- See the extended treatment of this issue in Hengel, 29-35.
- See Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, ed., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 5 vols., rev. Walter Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm, trans. and ed. M. E. J. Richardson (New York: Brill, 1994–2000), 836. The Greek translations of Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, produced to replace the LXX, all use the unambiguous νεανις, ״young woman״ instead of the LXX’s παρθενος, “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14.
- Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie, Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, rev. ed., (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2003), 471. In ancient Greek, however, παρθενος did not originally require the specific translation “virgin” at all; see TLG (http://stephanus.tlg.uci.edu/lsj/#eid=82029&context=lsj&action=from-search).
- Mogens Müller, The First Bible of the Church: A Plea for the Septuagint (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 40. Everett F. Harrison, “The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies: Part One,” Bibliotheca Sacra 112, no. 448 (Oct 1955): 350, relates that “Christians pressed the fact that it was the Jews themselves who had translated the Hebrew עלמה by παρθεν́ος, virgin.”
- Philo considered the LXX divinely inspired and superior to the original Hebrew: “Philo believed that the translators of Scripture knowing that they had to present the original form of the divine Law had not added or taken away or transposed anything.” Bickerman, 1:185.
- According to Müller, 40, “Aquila, who was a proselyte, distinguished himself by rendering the text almost word for word, thus making it almost unintelligible to those who did not master the Hebrew language. But exactly this may have been the point with the enterprise, because it made the Hebrew text indispensable.”
- Bickerman, 1:171-72, clarifies the balance attempted by the “Seventy” in producing a vernacular translation: “[They] knew well the rules of Greek syntax. Constructions which have no place in Hebrew, such as the absolute genitive, frequently occur in the Greek Pentateuch. The translators exactly distinguished between the tenses of the indicative in if-clauses, used the subjunctive to represent the Hebrew imperfect in the conditional sentences and alternated the tenses of the subjunctive in order to express different shades of Hebrew meaning. Nevertheless, the language of the Greek Torah is foreign and clumsy.” Though the language of the LXX has been shown to be standard koine (see, for example, John A. L. Lee, A Lexical Study of the Septuagint Version of the Pentateuch [SCS 14; Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1983]; Trevor V. Evans, Verbal Syntax in the Greek Pentateuch: Natural Greek Usage and Hebrew Interference [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001]), and is as such not “bad Greek,” the register of Koine used is in most books that of non-literary, documentary sources.
- Bickerman, 1:171.
- Menahem Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, 3 vols. (Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1980), 2:502-9.
- Swete, 9.
- Harrison, 346.
- Stern, 2:206.
- Stern, 2:216.
- Metzger, 38.
- “Josephus (Ant. XII 2), presumably because he was not a Hellenist, and could read his bible in the Hebrew, does not see the necessity for this doctrine of the inspiration of the Septuagint. He follows Aristeas closely, except at the end, where he actually turns the curse pronounced on alteration into an invitation to retrench superfluities or supply defects!” F. C. Conybeare and St. George Stock, A Grammar of Septuagint Greek (Ginn and Company: Boston, 1905), 9.
- Peters, 5:1102. “Secular” here refers to those outside or on the fringes of “mainstream” Judaism, if there was such a thing.
- Peter J. Gentry, “The Septuagint and the Text of the Old Testament,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 16, no. 2 (2006): 194, remarks that, although the importance of the Qumran discoveries cannot be overstated, “the Septuagint remains in many cases the earliest witness to the text of the OT and therefore of immense significance and value.” Indeed, manuscript evidence of the LXX antedated our extant Hebrew mss until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Swete, 21, observes that “the LXX as a whole, or at any rate the earlier part of the collection, is a monument of Alexandrian Greek as it was spoken by the Jewish colony in the delta under the rule of the Ptolemies.”
- Peters, 5:1100, makes the point that “the real value of LXX resides not so much in its function as a corrective to some Hebrew text of which we have a copy, but rather as a record of the way in which a group of Jews in the 3d century and for some time thereafter understood their traditions.” According to Schniedewind, “there lies behind the Greek translation both an intimate knowledge of the theological discourse and a complex intertextual interplay that derive from the Alexandrian community rather than from any individual.” See William M. Schniedewind, Society and the Promise to David: The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1-17 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 145.
- Harrison urges that the student of the scriptures be familiar with the Semitic influence of the Septuagint on the New Testament (and possibly the MT), and not just the Hebrew alone. See Everett J. Harrison, “The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies: Part Two,” Bibliotheca Sacra 113, no. 449 (Jan 1956): 45.
- Protestant scholars may have shied away from LXX studies due to a predisposed bias towards the MT, and the difficult questions raised about canonicity. See Jobes, “When God Spoke Greek,” 224.
- This edition is a welcome advancement over Rahlfs, which was based on only three manuscripts (א, A, B) that are later than the 4th century AD. See Combs, 255.
- Williams, 176.
- Williams, 176. He continues by addressing the loss over time of the plural designation for the Bible, the Septuagint and the Apocrypha, with the implication that these collections of numerous writings have been misleadingly identified as single, bound volumes.
- Bickerman, 1:166.
- See Jobes, “When God Spoke Greek,” 219. Textual plurality in the LXX is an area of research that is wide open right now (future PhD students take note!).
- Schniedewind, 144, cautions that “the creative power of the LXX has often been lost in the search for an urtext.”
- Bickerman, 1:191.
- As an example, John Barclay recently expressed to me that there is potentially much to be gained by New Testament scholars in becoming intimately familiar with the Greek Psalter.