Henry Barclay Swete’s Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint is an authoritative edition of the Greek text of the Old Testament. Work first began in 1875 at the initiative of F. H. A. Scrivener, and continued under the editorship and direction of Swete. The first volume appeared in print in 1887, and subsequent volumes were published during the following two decades. Swete’s Septuagint uses the Codex Vaticanus as its base texts, and also uses other important manuscripts, including the Alexandrine MS, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Cottonianus, Codex Ambrosianus, and other texts. For years after its initial publication, Swete’s Septuagint remained the standard edition in print, and has been widely used by students and scholars of the Septuagint.
Henry Barclay Swete (1835-1917) was an Anglican scholar. Theological professor in London (1882–90) and Cambridge (1890–1915), he published works on the Old Testament and New Testament, and on Christian doctrine. Though he espoused modern critical methods in biblical studies, he respected those who reached different conclusions from his own. He himself was oddly conservative on occasion—on some of the Johannine discourses, for example, and on miracles. He edited various Greek texts, including the LXX, stimulated his students to undertake serious research, and founded the prestigious Journal of Theological Studies (1899). His work in The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church (1912) was long used as a standard textbook. He was the chief architect of the work known popularly as Cambridge Theological Questions (1905), a symposium written by leading scholars of the day. In it Swete commented on what he saw as the most important work of the twentieth century church—to assimilate new truth without sacrificing the primitive message, and “to state in terms adapted to the need of a new century the truths which the ancient church expressed in those which were appropriate for its own times.” A sequel, Cambridge Biblical Questions, followed in 1909. In it Swete rejected the suggestion that the spread of knowledge would shake the credit of the Bible in the public estimation.
Pastor Reginald D. Cole