What is the Greek Septuagint (LXX)?

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WHAT IS THE SEPTUAGINT

There are currently over 2000 classified manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint. The Septuagint is the oldest translation from the original language of biblical Hebrew, and it has more significant deviations from the Masoretic Text (MT) than all other versions combined. The Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy) was translated first between 280-240 B.C.E. The rest of the books were translated between 240-150 C.E. Later translators used that OG Original Greek Pentateuch as a sort of lexicon to have Greek equivalents for certain Hebrew words. If you see the siglum OG Original Greek, this is scholars trying to distinguish between the original translation of the Septuagint (280-150 B.C.E.) from the later translations and revisions. The name Septuagint can refer to the original translation from the Hebrew into Greek and sometimes the term is used to refer to all later Greek translations and revisions. Some making translations of the Hebrew text into Greek had access to the OG translation and were aware of the differences with the standardized Hebrew text, and so, some endeavored to make corrections in the Greek text to bring it in alignment with the protomasoretic text. Others, instead, attempted to do what they felt was a better translation than the translators of the OG translation.

The kaige revision, or simply kaige, is the group of revisions to the Septuagint made in order to more closely align its translation with the proto-Masoretic Hebrew. … The individual revisions characteristic of kaige were first observed by Dominique Barthélemy in the Greek Minor Prophets Scroll from Nahal Hever. The kaige revision wrote out the Tetragrammaton, God’s personal name (JHVH) in Paleo-Hebrew script. The kaige revision is, at times, also called kaige-Theodotion because it has shared readings with Theodotion. This is a good place to explain that the Jews loved the Greek Septuagint and they initially saw it as being just as inspired as the original Hebrew books were. However, the Christians were drawn to the Septuagint as well. In the late first century and second century, these Christians used the Greek Septuagint apologetically in debates with Jews. Well, the Jews grew suspicious of the Greek Septuagint that they once saw inspired. They dropped the Greek Septuagint and returned to their Hebrew text, which ended up being a good thing. This also brought about three different Greek translations that rival each other.

Aquila of Sinope was a translator of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, a Jewish proselyte, and disciple of Rabbi Akiva. Aquila, also called Akilas, (flourished 2nd-century C.E.), a scholar who in about 150 C.E. completed an extremely literal translation into Greek of the Old Testament; it replaced the Septuagint (q.v.) among Jews and was used by the Church Fathers Origen in the 3rd century and St. … Jerome in the 4th and 5th centuries. It was so literal that he would use the same Greek word for the same Hebrew word in every instance even if the context demanded otherwise. Without having knowledge of the Hebrew text that lies behind it it is very much difficult to understand.

Symmachus (/ˈsɪməkəs/; Greek: Σύμμαχος “ally”; fl. … late 2nd century) was a Samaritan that converted to Judaism, who would then translate the Old Testament into Greek. His translation was included by Origen in his Hexapla and Tetrapla, which compared various versions of the Old Testament side by side with the Septuagint. It is thought that he used Aquila in his efforts to make his translation but unlike Aquila, he sought to be more varied in his use of the vocabulary to communicate more clearly in Greek.

Theodotion (/ˌθiːəˈdoʊʃən/; Greek: Θεοδοτίων, gen.: Θεοδοτίωνος; died c. 200) was a Hellenistic Jewish scholar, perhaps working in Ephesus, who in c. 150 CE translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek. … In the 2nd century, Theodotion’s text was quoted in The Shepherd of Hermas and in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho. The literalness of his version was between Aquila and Symmachus. He left some difficult Hebrew words untranslated. Many believe that he was also using the kaige revision, mention above because many of his readings were actually known before he lived.

Origen (184-253 C.E.) brings us to the next stage in the history of the Greek OT. The Hexapla (Ancient Greek: Ἑξαπλᾶ, “sixfold”) is the term for a critical edition of the Hebrew Bible … Origen’s eclectic recension of the Septuagint had a significant influence on the Old Testament text in several important manuscripts, such as the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. The original work, which is said to have had about 6000 pages (3000 parchment sheets) in 15 volumes and which probably existed in only a single complete copy, seems to have been stored in the library of the bishops of Caesarea for some centuries, but it was destroyed during the Muslim invasion of 638 at the latest. The first column was the Hebrew text. The second column was a transliteration of the Hebrew text in Greek letters. The third column contained Aquila’s version, the fourth Symmachus’s, the fifth Origen’s own revision of the Septuagint text, and the final column Theodotion’s version. Origen’s fifth column contained obelus symbols in the text to mark readings that were found in the Greek version but not the Hebrew, and asterisk symbols for omissions from the Greek that were in the Hebrew. This revision of the Greek text was so significant that it “dominated the subsequent history of the [Septuagint].” In spite of the importance of Origen’s work, today we only have fragments of partial copies. 19 It can be consulted in the classic edition by Frederick Field. – Brotzman, Ellis R.; Tully, Eric J.. Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction (p. 70). Baker Publishing Group.

Ellis Brotzman Chart On History of Greek Septuagint, p. 71. ORIGINAL IMAGE Source: Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015), 49.

Lucian of Antioch (240-312 C.E.) is credited with a critical recension of the text of the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament, which was later used by Chrysostom and the later Greek fathers, and which lies at the basis of the textus receptus. “This revision was a stylistic update of an existing Greek text that was not Origen’s edition in the fifth column of the Hexapla. Like Theodotion, it contains distinctive readings that were known long before Lucian lived in the fourth century. We call this earlier Greek text proto-Lucian. The Lucianic revision tends to fill in gaps in the Greek text (in comparison with the Hebrew MT), adds clarifying elements, and corrects grammatical difficulties. It is a full text, and less woodenly literal than the previous translations and revisions.” – Brotzman, Ellis R.; Tully, Eric J.. Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction (pp. 70-71). Baker Publishing Group.

Ellis R. Brotzman, 

Therefore, there were five stages in the development of the Septuagint as a group of Greek translations. First, there was an original translation (Old Greek) of the Pentateuch and then the rest of the OT. Second, there were early revisions of the Greek text (proto-Lucian and kaige-Theodotion). Third, the translations/ revisions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion were completed. Fourth, Origen included the preceding work along with his own revision in the Hexapla. Finally, Lucian completed a new revision (see image above). The Septuagint “was produced by many people unknown to us, over two or three centuries, and almost certainly in more than one location. Consequently, the Greek OT does not have the unity that the term the Septuagint might imply.” – Brotzman, Ellis R.; Tully, Eric J.. Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction (pp. 71-72). Baker Publishing Group.

The collection of compositions commonly known as the Septuagint is an ancient translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Jewish Scriptures, into Greek. Although there are many English translations of the Bible, only a few English translations of the Septuagint exist. Most English translations of what Protestant Christians call the “Old Testament” are translations from Hebrew and Aramaic, because these are the languages in which these books of the Bible were originally written. By contrast, the Septuagint is, for the most part, itself a translation of these Hebrew and Aramaic biblical books into Greek.

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And yet, the Septuagint itself should be studied—and therefore translated—because of the important role it plays in biblical studies. More often than not, when the New Testament writers quote the Jewish Scriptures, they quote the Septuagint. Other early Christian literature does the same, including the apostolic fathers, post-New Testament extracanonical material, and later patristic writings. Not only is it likely that the Septuagint was the Bible of the apostle Paul, it was probably also the one consulted by Josephus, Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, and perhaps even John Chrysostom.

https://christianpublishinghouse.co/2019/03/20/the-septuagint-a-bible-translation-that-changed-the-world/

The Origins of the Septuagint

The pseudepigraphal Letter of Aristeas contains a legend of the miraculous completion of the Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch into Greek. This legend pointed to a committee of seventy-two translators, and it is the basis for the title we use today. The Latin word for “seventy” is septuaginta. (The common abbreviation for the Septuagint is “70” given in Roman numerals: “lxx.”) Still today, writers will refer to the Septuagint’s translators as “the seventy.” Legend has it that all the translators sat down separately to translate the entire Hebrew Bible, and they emerged with precisely identical translations. It has clearly always been a concern of believers that their translations be accurate, and the story of the seventy is an appeal to miraculous divine providence as a guarantee for accuracy.

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The reality, however, is that the various books of the lxx were translated by various people over several centuries, beginning in the third century bce. We know next to nothing about these translators, but we do still have their work. They translated not just the canonical Hebrew Bible but also several other books, often called “apocryphal” or “deuterocanonical” (though they are accepted in some Christian traditions). There is even some noncanonical material present in what we now call “the Septuagint”—4 Maccabees and the Psalms of Solomon—because it is present in some of the oldest Greek biblical manuscripts.

Because the books of the Hebrew Bible were translated by different people at different times, the Septuagint is not so much a single, uniform document as it is a compilation of translations, each of differing quality and philosophy. Some are relatively literal, translating word for word; others are fairly dynamic, translating phrase for phrase or idea for idea. Some translate similar Hebrew terminology in different ways. The lxx also includes some documents that appear to have been composed originally in Greek. So any translation of this body of literature, itself (largely but not entirely) a translation, will end up being diverse.

The Greek Septuagint and Other Versions

Translations of the Septuagint

Today there are only three English translations of the Septuagint that are widely available in print. One is the work of a single man, Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton, dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Another translation is found in the Orthodox Study Bible, published in 2008 by Thomas Nelson. The third is the New English Translation of the Septuagint (nets), produced by a committee of Septuagint scholars and published by Oxford University Press in 2007, with a revision in 2009.

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Each of these works has particular strengths and weaknesses.

  • Brenton’s translation is simply dated, and in two respects: its textual basis does not reflect more recent discoveries of Septuagint manuscripts, and it relies on older views of the meanings of certain Greek words.
  • The nets is up to date with regard to these two issues, and it seeks a careful transparency to the Greek. But the nets editors decided to transliterate rather than translate many proper names that are familiar to English readers. “David” is “Dauid,” “Joshua” is “Iesous.” This policy is helpful for certain readers in very specific circumstances, but it makes following the narrative more difficult for others. Also, in order to reflect that the Septuagint is subservient to the Hebrew text, the nets was designed to be subservient to an English translation. But this means that rather than being an original translation from the Greek, the nets is a modified nrsv.
  • Similarly, as its translation of Psalm 22:5 (23:5 in Hebrew) shows, the Orthodox Study Bible is a revision of the nkjv that draws some vocabulary from Brenton’s translation.

The Lexham English Septuagint (les), then, is the only contemporary English translation of the lxx that has been made directly from the Greek. It is not our goal to supplant any of these earlier translations. But just as those who use English translations in their study of the Bible find that insight and understanding of a given passage can be enhanced by comparing translations, our desire is that the les would be one of the primary English translations of the Septuagint consulted in one’s study of the Jewish Scriptures, of apocryphal/deuterocanonical literature, and even of the New Testament and patristic literature.

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In languages other than English, the Septuagint has recently been translated into German as Septuaginta Deutsch (lxx-d) from 1999–2008. A Spanish translation, La Biblia griega, was published in four volumes from 2008 to 2015. A French translation project, La Bible d’Alexandrie, was started in 1986 with a volume on Genesis and is now nearing completion.

https://christianpublishinghouse.co/2019/03/02/hebrew-text-the-septuagint/

Textual Basis and Critical Editions of the Septuagint

There are two main types of editions of original language texts: eclectic and diplomatic. An eclectic edition attempts to recreate the earliest form of the text based on available manuscript evidence and text-critical principles. It represents no single manuscript but uses the best readings from all available manuscripts in an effort to represent a form of the text that best explains how the alternate readings came about. Many eclectic editions have a textual apparatus that lists evidence for the reading adopted in the text as well as for the variant readings. For the New Testament, the Nestle-Aland family of printed Greek New Testaments provide examples of eclectic editions. For the Septuagint, Alfred Rahlfs’s edition (1935) and the still in-progress Göttingen editions are the available eclectic editions. In eclectic editions, the editor makes a decision regarding the original text for each word. Eclectic editions include a textual apparatus at the bottom of each page listing variant readings from other manuscripts. Rahlfs used only a handful of manuscripts when producing his edition, while the Göttingen editions aim to be comprehensive, listing every variant in all available manuscripts.

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

A diplomatic edition of an original language text, by contrast, is a transcription of a single manuscript in its entirety, supplemented from other manuscripts only when content is missing from that primary manuscript. Diplomatic editions may also offer an apparatus of variant readings, but they do not indicate which reading is considered better or preferred. H. B. Swete’s edition of the Septuagint, The Old Testament in Greek: According to the Septuagint, is an example of a diplomatic edition. For the most part, it provides the text found in Codex Vaticanus (which is also an important witness to the text of the Greek New Testament). Where Vaticanus is missing material, the text comes from comparable manuscripts such as the Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Sinaiticus. Swete’s edition also provides an apparatus listing significant variations found in other major manuscripts.

https://christianpublishinghouse.co/2017/03/06/did-jesus-speak-greek-or-quote-the-greek-septuagint/

The les is a translation of Swete’s edition, the best diplomatic edition of the Septuagint that contains an apparatus of variant readings. For most books, Codex Vaticanus is generally of better quality (fewer errors) than other manuscripts, so for a diplomatic text, Swete chose his primary manuscript well. The fact that the les is based on a diplomatic edition carries some implications for the translation style of the les—because in a diplomatic edition the text represents an actual manuscript rather than a hypothetical original text. In the case of the les, this means the point of reference is the person reading that Greek manuscript, rather than the person translating the Hebrew into Greek. In other words, the les has in mind the translation not as produced, but as received. The les seeks to replicate in English the same sort of reading experience that an ancient Greek speaker would have had when reading the Septuagint in Codex Vaticanus.

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One textual issue that requires explanation is the presence of “alternative texts.” These appear for two distinct reasons. First, the book of Tobit appears in two versions because the text of one of the oldest manuscripts (Codex Sinaiticus) is so different from that of the other two oldest manuscripts (Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus) that it would have been cumbersome to point out each of the differences in the usual way, in the critical apparatus. Instead, Swete opted to print the Sinaiticus version of Tobit separately. Correspondingly, in the les both versions of Tobit are translated separately, with the Sinaiticus version as the “Alternate Text.” Second, the book of Daniel appears under the label “Alternate Texts” because of the reception history of the multiple translations of the Bible into Greek. The “Septuagint” (i.e., the translation attributed to the “seventy” translators) was not the only translation of the Jewish Scriptures into Greek in ancient times. Other translations appeared within a few centuries, translations attributed to “Theodotion,” “Aquila,” and “Symmachus.” In the case of the book of Daniel (with its additions “Susanna” and “Bel and the Dragon”), the older lxx translation actually fell out of favor among early Christians; in its place the translation of Theodotion began appearing in manuscripts of the Bible. Because this Theodotionic version of Daniel was so popular in biblical interpretation, Swete decided to print it alongside the “lxx” version of Daniel, and in the les it is therefore included as an “Alternate Text.”

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The History of the les

The les began as an interlinear edition of the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, which was edited under the leadership of Randall Tan. A diverse and talented group of translators created this original interlinear edition, upon which the les is based.1 Rick Brannan initiated a project to take the material from this interlinear and use it as the initial basis for a translation. He wrote a program to reassemble, as much as possible, the interlinear lines into English word order. He invited Michael Aubrey, Isaiah Hoogendyk, Israel Loken, and Ken M. Penner to serve with him as contributing editors and supplied them with this machine-generated text to edit (in consultation with the Greek text, of course) into readable English. Each of these translators was responsible for a book or a group of books. These individual interlinear translations formed the original basis of the les. The degree to which each of the contributing editors is responsible for the les translation of their allotment depends on how much work the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint for those books needed in order to become readable English. The amount of work varied, and the result is that the wording of some books of the interlinear is retained more than others. The goal of the les was to transparently match the interlinear as much as possible; still, some books required an almost entirely new translation by the les translator.

Brannan then reviewed and edited this English translation to meet basic guidelines established for the translation. Each of the editors’ submissions was further reviewed and then copy edited into a transparent, literal translation of the Septuagint, which was originally available only as a resource for Logos Bible Software.

Over the next several years, small mistakes were discovered and shortcomings identified, yet the les continued to grow in popularity to the point that it was considered feasible to publish the translation for a print readership. Ken M. Penner was invited to reedit the les with a view to publishing the les as a print volume.

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Translation Principles

Because the les is intended to correspond to the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, the translation style of the les is largely controlled by that resource. It is “formal” (or “literal”): it has a strong transparent connection to the Greek, because it is derived from an interlinear.

The second edition of the les makes more of an effort than the first to focus on the text as received rather than as produced. Because this approach shifts the point of reference from a diverse group to a single implied reader, the new les exhibits more consistency than the (multieditor) first edition. Every effort was made to render the Greek in its own right, with no eye to the Hebrew at all. The les is an attempt to answer the question, “How would this text have been read—understood and experienced—by a fourth century, Greek-speaking gentile Christian?” This implied reader’s knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish customs is restricted to what could be learned from the Greek Scriptures and by observing fourth-century Jews in the Greco-Roman world.

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The English translation should feel idiomatic where the Greek is idiomatic. It should feel formal where the Greek is formal. It should feel foreign where the Greek feels foreign. In other words, it is not only acceptable, it is positively desirable for the les to feel like a translation, to the extent that Greek readers would have been aware that they were reading a translation. Ideally, the translation should be as rough or as smooth as the Greek would have seemed to a Greek reader who knew no Hebrew. Sometimes in Ecclesiastes this meant translating some rather unconventional uses of συν (sun) into awkward English. Sometimes it meant that phrases that were idiomatic in Hebrew but not in Greek—such as prepositional expressions using body parts—were translated literally into English just as they were into Greek. In cases where periphrastic prepositions involving πρόσωπον (prosopon) were idiomatic Greek, an idiomatic English translation appears in the text. But since (according to Muraoka’s Syntax) they are Hebraisms, the foreign feel was retained by translating literally. Never in nonbiblical Greek does πρόσωπον mean “presence” (at least not in any way not also covered by “face” in English), so it should not be so translated in English. Greek readers were able to make sense of these foreign-sounding expressions, and English readers can, too. Most commonly, this principle meant that Greek καί (kai) should almost always be “and.” A Greek reader would be struck by the lack of variety in conjunctions; to produce a similar effect in English, καί as a conjunction should consistently be “and” rather than “so” or “then” or “but”—as much as possible without changing the sense. On the other hand, where the Greek style was typical, as in most of the books of the Maccabees, the English of the les is idiomatic as well. Where a phrase would have sounded formulaic but not foreign—such as τάδε εἶπεν/λέγει (tade eipen/legei)—to a Greek reader, it is rendered in equally formulaic English: hence the translation “thus said/says.”

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Vocabulary

Because the first edition of the les began with dozens of individual translators working on individual books, and because it was edited in the same way—one book at a time, by five editors—there were places where a phrase or term was not consistently translated across the whole of the les. For example, one translator might have rendered ἔλεος as “pity” and the others as “mercy.” The second edition of the les makes more of an effort to focus on the text as received rather than as produced and therefore exhibits some effort to establish lexical consistency, especially where inconsistency in English word choice obscured verbal connections within or between passages—or semantic associations that would have occurred to the ancient Greek reader.

We were guided by the principle that if the Greek is smooth and represents good Greek style, then the English equivalent should convey that style, and that the English should be awkward if the Greek is awkward. Applying this guiding translation principle to vocabulary prompted two guidelines. (1) Where the Greek has a common word, use a common English word; where the Greek has unusual (one might say “marked”) vocabulary, use similarly unusual English diction. (2) Make it possible to notice the same verbal connections that a Greek reader would, both within a passage and between passages. Where words are cognate in Greek (such as nouns and verbs from the same root) they should also be cognate in English. Conversely, because an English reader might infer that a certain Greek word lies behind each instance of a certain English gloss, we sought consistency in both directions. For example, εἶπον should never be “replied” rather than “said,” because the English reader might infer a different Greek word if “replied” were used.

In choosing that preferred consistent gloss, we took four points into consideration: (1) how this word is translated in the rest of the les; (2) the range of meaning in (primarily older) nonbiblical Greek (using classical lexica); (3) the range of meanings that would occur to a fourth-century Christian reader (using lexica of patristic Greek); (4) preserving distinctions among words with semantic overlap (using Muraoka’s lists at the end of an entry, for example, because the alternatives to φυλάσσω [phulasso] are τηρέω [tereo, “keep”], εὐλαβέομαι [eulabeomai, “beware,” “fear”], and σκοπεύω [skopeuo, “keep watch”], “keep” is an inappropriate gloss for for φυλάσσω).

Yet we did not seek a forced lexical consistency that ignores context. Instead, we prefer some lexical flexibility to suit the context. For example, because λέγω/εἶπον (lego/eipon) with the dative is smooth Greek, in English “tell”/“told” is a suitable rendering; it retains that smoothness. There will be some necessary variation because of context, such as ψυχη (psuche) as “soul” and “life,” even though ζωη (zoe) is also “life.” In a few cases, none of the formally equivalent English glosses would have produced the same effect as the Greek word. One such example is οὐρανός (ouranos). “Sky” and “heaven” would both seem to be candidates, but neither is adequate because οὐρανός connoted a divine realm, whereas in current English “sky” has only physical connotations. On the other hand, “heaven” as used in contemporary English is almost exclusively about postmortem rewards, which were not at all implied by οὐρανός. Consequently, the preferred English equivalent is “the heavens” despite the grammatical mismatch in number.

The shift from the third-second century bce Alexandria (lxx as produced) to the fourth century Christianizing Roman Empire (the time Codex Vaticanus was first read) did not yield many cases in which the semantic range of a word had changed so much as to warrant a different translation. But in those cases in which the meaning had evolved (mainly due to the influence of the New Testament), the meaning at the time of reception would take precedence. Examples include a shift from “wind” to “spirit” and from “maiden” to “virgin.”

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Gender

With regard to gender issues in translation, the les strives to translate as literally as possible, in a contextually appropriate manner, using terminology that is widely acceptable. The goal is contextually appropriate semantics more than gender-inclusive wording. Perhaps the most notable example is the phrase “sons of” as a translation for a generic people group such as Israel. In such instances, the first edition of the les had “children of Israel” instead of “sons of Israel,” and for people groups other than Israel, “descendants of” was used in place of “sons of.” In each such instance, a note was included indicating the alternate translation “sons of.” This second edition has eliminated these footnotes and consistently uses the translation “sons of.” This policy rests on the observation that the Greek word υἱός (huios)—translated “sons”—almost never refers to both genders; rather it is used when “sons” is contrasted with “daughters.” When both genders were intended, a Greek writer would specify “sons and daughters.” Similarly, although the first edition of the les sometimes translated the Greek word for “fathers” with the gender-inclusive “ancestors” when the context suggested earlier generations, the second edition uses “fathers” more consistently, on the basis of Greek usage. These translation equivalents bring today’s reader to the ancient culture rather than the reverse.

By contrast, a different situation pertains to the Greek words for “man” and “humanity.” Greek has both a gender-specific word for “man” and a gender-inclusive word for “humans” or “people”: ἄνθρωπος (anthropos). Only very rarely is ἄνθρωπος contrasted with “woman.” Therefore the les translates ἄνθρωπος as “humanity,” “human,” “people,” or “person” unless the context is referring to a specific person, as when calling someone an “ἄνθρωπος of God.” Translating this phrase as a “person of” or “human of” God would yield awkward English where there was normal Greek. In such cases, “man” or “woman” is preferable in order not to distort the impression that would have been made on the ancient Greek reader.

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Proper Nouns

A longstanding issue in Septuagint studies has been how to render Septuagint names in English. Hatch and Redpath, to their credit, include an appendix of more than 160 pages with listings of Greek proper names, their instances, and their Hebrew equivalents where available. This appendix is the best resource available today on proper nouns in the Septuagint.

Recent Greek-English lexicons of the Septuagint largely skip over the problem. Regarding the inclusion of proper nouns in their lexicon, Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie note, “Proper names are included only when they are a transliteration of Hebrew words that are common nouns.” Muraoka does not mention proper nouns in his front matter,5 and he seems to include only the most common proper nouns (e.g., Μωϋσῆς, Moses) in the body of his lexicon. This means that outside of Hatch and Redpath, one of the best references to consult regarding names in the Septuagint is actually a lexicon of New Testament Greek, BDAG, which has entries for names that occur in the New Testament, many of which also occur in the Septuagint.

The nets tends to render Greek names by transliteration. They describe their method:

Names have been treated in essentially two ways: (1) as translations of Hebrew (or Aramaic), i.e., names in general use in the Hellenistic world apart from the LXX, and (2) as transcriptions of Hebrew (or Aramaic), i.e., names produced de novo from the source language. The former have been given their standard equivalent in English (e.g. Egypt and Syria) while the latter appear in English transcription (e.g. Dauid and Salomon).

This is a straightforward and consistent solution that is faithful to nets’ underlying method, but this solution creates difficulties for those whose primary familiarity with the Old Testament material is through English translations of the Hebrew Bible. Although some transliterations are easy enough to recognize (such as Ieremias, “Jeremiah”), others don’t correlate in ways readily obvious to all readers (such as Selo, “Shiloh”), and some are possibly confusing (such as Iesous, “Joshua”). Names are difficult enough to track in English translations of the Hebrew Bible; when they are rendered in an English transliteration of their Greek form, some names become virtually impossible to identify. Therefore, where possible the les uses the common English form of the related Hebrew proper noun to render the Greek form of that noun: it translates rather than transliterates. For the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books of the Septuagint that have no underlying Hebrew, les uses the nrsv to maintain consistency among names. Only in cases where no direct link could be established with the Hebrew does the les use a transliterated form of the name. The result is that the text, for the most part, uses recognizable and familiar forms of names for people, places, and people groups.

The first edition of the les included the transliterated forms8 of Greek proper names as footnotes so that scholars and students could have access to the Greek forms. Such footnotes were not cumbersome in a digital publication, but because the second edition was prepared for print publication, these footnotes have been omitted from the second edition.

Conclusion

In the introduction to his lexicon of the Septuagint, Takamitsu Muraoka wrote:

Following a series of exploratory studies and debates, we have come to the conclusion that we had best read the Septuagint as a Greek document and try to find out what sense a reader in a period roughly 250 B.C.–100 A.D. who was ignorant of Hebrew or Aramaic might have made of the translation, although we did compare the two texts all along.

Muraoka’s conclusion is sensible and sums up the overall approach followed during the translation and editorial phases of work on the les. The Septuagint is treated and understood as a Greek document, and it is translated with the desire to allow English readers to read the Greek document. Although it may be helpful to consult the underlying Hebrew and Aramaic texts—particularly when the Greek text is difficult to understand—we must remember that the Septuagint was a Greek document, written so that Greek speakers and readers who knew little or nothing of Hebrew could read and hear the writings of the Hebrew Bible in their native tongue.

People have been translating the Scriptures into their own native tongues ever since. We trust you will find this translation of the Septuagint useful in your studies.

And may God do good to you and remember his covenant that he made with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, his faithful servants. And may he grant you all a heart for everything to worship him and do his will with a strong heart and a willing soul. (2 Maccabees 1:2–3 les)

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