Septuagint

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Image:Codex Vaticanus B, 2Thess. 3,11-18, Hebr. 1,1-2,2.jpg
The Septuagint: A page from Codex vaticanus, the basis of Sir Launcelot Lee Brenton's English translation.

The Septuagint (or simply "LXX") is the name commonly given in the West to the ancient, Koine Greek version of the Old Testament translated in stages between the 3rd to 1st century BC in Alexandria. It is the oldest of several ancient translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. The name means "seventy" and derives from a tradition that seventy-two Jewish scholars (LXX being the nearest round number) translated the Pentateuch (or Torah) from Hebrew into Greek for one of the Ptolemaic kings. As the work of translation went on gradually, and new books were added to the collection, the compass of the Greek Bible came to be somewhat indefinite. The Pentateuch always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon; but the prophetic collection changed its aspect by having various hagiographa incorporated into it. Some of the newer works, those called anagignoskomena in Greek, are not included in the Hebrew canon. Among these books are Maccabees and the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Also, the LXX version of some works, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than the Hebrew.<ref>Rick Grant Jones, Various Religious Topics, "Books of the Septuagint," (Accessed 2006.9.5).</ref> Several of the later books apparently were composed in Greek.

The LXX was held with great respect in ancient times; Philo and Josephus ascribed divine inspiration to its authors. It formed the basis of the Old Latin versions and is still used intact within Eastern Orthodoxy. Besides the Old Latin versions, the LXX is also the basis for Gothic, Slavonic, old Syriac (but not the Peshitta), old Armenian, and Coptic versions of the Old Testament. Of significance for all Christians and for bible scholars, the LXX is quoted by the Christian New Testament and by the Apostolic Fathers. While Jews have not used the LXX in worship or religious study since the second century AD, recent scholarship has brought renewed interest in it in Judaic Studies. Some of the Dead Sea scrolls attest to Hebrew texts other than those on which the Masoretic Text was based; in many cases, these newly found texts accord with the LXX version. The oldest surviving codices of LXX date to the fourth century AD.

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[edit] Naming and designation

The Septuagint derives its name from Latin septuaginta interpretum versio, "translation of the seventy interpreters" (hence the abbreviation LXX). The Latin title refers to a legendary account in the spurious Letter of Aristeas of how seventy-two Jewish scholars were asked by the Greek King of Egypt Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the 3rd century BC to translate the Torah for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria. A later version of that legend narrated by Philo of Alexandria states that although the translators were kept in separate chambers, they all produced identical versions of the text in seventy-two days. Although this story is widely viewed as implausible today, it underlines the fact that some ancient Jews wished to present the translation as authoritative. A version of this legend is found in the Tractate Megillah of the Babylonian Talmud (pages 9a-9b), which identifies fifteen specific unusual translations made by the scholars. Only two of these translations are found in the extant LXX.

[edit] Textual history

Modern scholarship holds that the LXX, beginning with the Pentateuch, was written during the 3rd through 1st centuries BC.

Later Jewish revisions and recensions of the Greek against the Hebrew are well attested, the most famous of which include the Three: Aquila (128 AD), Symmachus, and Theodotion. The Three, to varying degrees, are more literal renderings of their contemporary Hebrew scriptures as compared to the Old Greek. Modern scholars consider one or more of the Three to be totally new Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible.

In around 235 AD, Origen, a Christian scholar in Alexandria, completed the Hexapla, a comprehensive comparison of the ancient versions side-by-side in six columns. Much of this work was lost, but several compilations of the fragments are available. In the first column was the contemporary Hebrew, in the second a Greek transliteration of it, then the newer Greek versions each in their own columns. Origen also kept a column for the Old Greek (the Septuagint) and next to it was a critical apparatus combining readings from all the Greek versions with editor's marks indicating to which version each stitch belonged. <ref>Jerome, From Jerome, Letter LXXI (404 AD), NPNF1-01. The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin, with a Sketch of his Life and Work, Phillip Schaff, Ed.</ref> Perhaps only three copies of the voluminous Hexapla were ever made, but Origen's combined text was copied, eventually without the editing marks, and the older uncombined text of the LXX was neglected. Thus this combined text became the first major Christian recension of the LXX, often called the Hexaplar rescension. In the centuries following Origen, two other major recensions were made by Lucian and Hesychius.

The oldest manuscripts of the LXX include 2nd century BC fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957), and 1st century BC fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Minor Prophets (Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943). Relatively complete manuscripts of the LXX postdate the Hexaplar rescension and include the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus of the 4th century and the Codex Alexandrinus of the 5th century. These are indeed the oldest surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language; the oldest extant complete Hebrew texts date 700 years later, from around 1000. While there are differences between these three codices, scholarly consensus today holds that one LXX — that is, the original pre-Christian translation — underlies all three. The various Jewish and later Christian revisions and recensions are largely responsible for the divergence of the codices.

[edit] Relationship between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text

The sources of the many differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text have long been discussed by scholars. The most widely accepted view today is that the Septuagint provides a reasonably accurate record of an early Semitic textual variant, now lost, that differed from ancestors of the Masoretic text. Ancient scholars, however, did not suspect this. Early Christians—who were largely unfamiliar with Hebrew texts, and were thus only made aware of the differences through the newer Greek versions—tended to dismiss the differences as a product of uninspired translation of the Hebrew in these new versions. Following the Renaissance, a common opinion among some humanists was that the LXX translators bungled the translation from the Hebrew and that the LXX became more corrupt with time. The discovery of many fragments in the Dead Sea scrolls that agree with the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic Text proved that many of the variants in Greek were also present in early Semitic manuscripts.<ref>Jones, Table: Dead Sea Scrolls-Septuagint Alignments Against the Masoretic Text.</ref>

These issues notwithstanding, the text of the LXX is in general close to that of the Masoretic. For example, Genesis 4:1-6 is identical in both the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Likewise, Genesis 4:8 to the end of the chapter is the same. There is only one noticeable difference in that chapter, at 4:7, to wit:

Genesis 4:7, LXX (Brenton)
Genesis 4:7, Masoretic (Artscroll)
Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it? Be still, to thee shall be his submission, and thou shalt rule over him. Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.

This instance illustrates the complexity of assessing differences between the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Despite the striking divergence of meaning here between the two, nearly identical consonantal Hebrew source texts can be reconstructed. The readily apparent semantic differences result from alternative strategies for interpreting the difficult verse and relate to differences in vowelization and punctuation of the consonantal text.

The differences between the LXX and the MT thus fall into four categories.

I) Different Hebrew sources for the MT and the LXX. Evidence of this can be found throughout the Old Testament. Most obvious are major differences in Jeremiah and Job, where the LXX is much shorter and chapters appear in different order than in the MT, and Esther where almost one third of the verses in the LXX text have no parallel in the MT. A more subtle example may be found in Isaiah 36.11; the meaning ultimately remains the same, but the choice of words evidences a different text. The MT reads "...al tedaber yehudit be-'ozne ha`am al ha-homa" [speak not the Judean language in the ears of (or - which can be heard by) the people on the wall]. The same verse in the LXX reads according to the translation of Breton "and speak not to us in the Jewish tongue: and wherefore speakest thou in the ears of the men on the wall." The MT reads "people" where the LXX reads "men". This difference is very minor and does not affect the meaning of the verse. Scholars at one time had used discrepancies such as this to claim that the LXX was a poor translation of the Hebrew original. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, variant Hebrew texts of the Bible were found. In fact this verse is found in Qumran (1QIsaa) where the Hebrew word "haanashim" (the men) is found in place of "haam" (the people). This discovery, and others like it, showed that even seemingly minor differences of translation could be the result of variant Hebrew source texts.

II) Differences in interpretation stemming from the same Hebrew text. A good example is Genesis 4.7 shown above.

III) Differences as a result of idiomatic translation issues (i.e. a Hebrew idiom may not easily translate into Greek, thus some difference is intentionally or unintentionally imparted). For example, in Psalm 47:10 the MT reads "The shields of the earth belong to God". The LXX reads "To God are the mighty ones of the earth." The metaphor "shields" would not have made much sense to a Greek speaker; thus the words "mighty ones" are substituted in order to retain the original meaning.

IV) Transmission changes in Hebrew or Greek (Diverging revisionary/recensional changes and copyist errors)

[edit] Use of the Septuagint

[edit] Jewish use

By the 3rd century BC, Jewry was situated primarily within the Hellenistic world. Outside of Judea, many Jews may have needed synagogue readings or texts for religious study to be interpreted into Greek, producing a need for the LXX. Alexandria held the greatest diaspora Jewish community of the age and was also a great center of Greek letters. Alexandria is thus likely the site of LXX authorship, a notion supported by the legend of Ptolemy and the 72 scholars. The Septuagint enjoyed widespread use in the Hellenistic Jewish diaspora and even in Jerusalem, which had become a rather cosmopolitan (and therefore Greek-speaking) town. Both Philo and Josephus show a reliance on the Septuagint in their citations of Jewish scripture.

Starting approximately in the 2nd century AD, several factors led most Jews to abandon the LXX. Christians naturally used the LXX since it was the only Greek version available to the earliest Christians; and since Christians, as a group, had rapidly become overwhelmingly gentile and, therefore, unfamiliar with Hebrew. The association of the LXX with a rival religion may have rendered it suspect in the eyes of the newer generation of Jews and Jewish scholars. Perhaps more importantly, the Greek language — and therefore the Greek Bible — declined among Jews after most of them fled from the Greek-speaking eastern Roman Empire into the Aramaic-speaking Persian Empire when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Instead, Jews used Hebrew/Aramaic manuscripts later compiled by the Masoretes; and authoritative Aramaic translations, such as those of Onkelos and Rabbi Yonathan ben Uziel.

What was perhaps most significant for the LXX, as distinct from other Greek versions, was that the LXX began to lose Jewish sanction after differences between it and contemporary Hebrew scriptures were discovered. Even Greek-speaking Jews — such as those remaining in Palestine — tended less to the LXX, preferring other Jewish versions in Greek, such as that of Aquila, which seemed to be more concordant with contemporary Hebrew texts.

[edit] Christian use

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The early Christian Church continued to use the Old Greek texts since Greek was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time, since Greek was the language of the Church, and since the Church Fathers tended to accept Philo's account of the LXX's miraculous and inspired origin. Furthermore, Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament quoted from the Old Greek.

When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translation of the Septuagint, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew that was then available. He came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint<ref>Jerome's Prologue to Genesis</ref>. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by his contemporaries.

The Hebrew text diverges in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ, and the Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages. The Orthodox Church of Constantinople, the Church of Greece and the Cypriot Orthodox Church continue to use it in their liturgy today, untranslated. Many modern critical translations of the Old Testament, while using the Masoretic text as their basis, consult the Septuagint as well as other versions in an attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, undeniably corrupt, or ambiguous.

Many of the oldest Biblical verses among the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the LXX than with the Masoretic text.<ref>Karen Jobes and Moises Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint ISBN 1-84227-061-3, (Paternoster Press, 2001). - The current standard for Introductory works on the Septuagint.</ref><ref>Timothy McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research ISBN 0-8028-6091-5. - The current standard introduction on the NT & LXX.</ref><ref>V.S. Herrell, The History of the Bible, "Qumram: Dead Sea Scrolls."</ref> This tells us that there were originally several different Hebrew texts and that the LXX represents a separate tradition from that which was standardized as the Masoretic tradition by ca. 990 AD.<ref>Jobes and Silva.</ref><ref>William Priestly, "The Dead Sea Scrolls." - A detailed explanation with scholarly apparatus.</ref> Thus, not all manuscripts discovered at Qumran agree with each other. The majority agree with the Masoretic tradition in contrast to the Septuagint.<ref>Trent C. Butler, Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England, Eds., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.</ref><ref>Allabouttruth.org, "Septuagint, Part II." - Represents an evangelical Christian point of view.</ref>

Of the fuller quotations in the New Testament of the Old, nearly one hundred agree with the modern form of the Septuagint<ref>Jones, Table: "Instances where the New Testament agrees with the Septuagint."</ref> and six agree with the Masoretic Text.<ref>Jones, Table: "Instance where the New Testament agrees with the meaning of the Masoretic texts."</ref> The principal differences concern presumed Biblical prophecies relative to Christ.

[edit] Language of the Septuagint

Some sections of the Septuagint may show Semiticisms, or idioms and phrases based on Semitic languages like Hebrew and Aramaic. Other books, such as LXX Daniel and Proverbs, show Greek influence more strongly. The book of Daniel that is found in almost all Greek bibles, however, is not from the LXX, but rather from Theodotion's translation, which more closely resembles the Masoretic Daniel.

The LXX is also useful for elucidating pre-Masoretic Hebrew: many proper nouns are spelled out with Greek vowels in the LXX, while contemporary Hebrew texts lacked vowel pointing.<ref>Hoffman, Book Review,, 2004.</ref> But although the 'sh' sibilant was by convention spelled with a sigma ('s'), ancient Greek texts are useful for pronouncing names and titles of books.

[edit] Books of the Septuagint

See also Table of books below.

All the books of western canons of the Old Testament are found in the Septuagint, although the order does not always coincide with the modern ordering of the books. The order of books in the Septuagint may date before the 1st century AD.

Some books that are set apart in the Masoretic text are grouped together. For example the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are in the LXX one book in four parts called Βασιλειῶν ("Of Reigns"); scholars believe that this is the original arrangement before the book was divided for readability. In LXX, the Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns and it is called Paraleipoménon (Παραλειπομένων—things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve.

Some scripture of ancient origin are found in the Septuagint but are not present in the Hebrew. These include additions to Daniel and Esther. For more information regarding these books, see the articles Biblical apocrypha, Biblical canon, Books of the Bible, and Deuterocanonical books.

The New Testament makes a number of allusions to and may quote the additional books (as Orthodox Christians aver). The books are Tobias, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus Seirach, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremy (sometimes considered part of Baruch), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Sosanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, including the Prayer of Manasses, and Psalm 151. The canonical acceptance of these books varies among different Christian faiths, and there are canonical books not derived from the Septuagint; for a discussion see the article on Biblical apocrypha.

[edit] Printed Editions

All the printed editions of the Septuagint are derived from the three recensions mentioned above.

  • The editio princeps is the Complutensian Polyglot. It was from Origen's hexaplar recension. Printed in 1514-18, it was not published until it appeared in the Polyglot of Cardinal Ximenes in 1520.
  • The Aldine edition (begun by Aldus Manutius) appeared at Venice in 1518. The text is closer to Codex B than the Complutensian. The editor says he collated ancient manuscripts but does not specify them. It has been reprinted several times.
  • The most important edition is the Roman or Sixtine, which reproduces the "Codex vaticanus" almost exclusively. It was published under the direction of Cardinal Caraffa, with the help of various savants, in 1586, by the authority of Sixtus V, to assist the revisers who were preparing the Latin Vulgate edition ordered by the Council of Trent. It has become the textus receptus of the Greek Old Testament and has had many new editions, such as that of Holmes and Pearsons (Oxford, 1798-1827), the seven editions of Tischendorf, which appeared at Leipzig between 1850 and 1887, the last two, published after the death of the author and revised by Nestle, the four editions of Swete (Cambridge, 1887-95, 1901, 1909), etc.
  • Grabe's edition was published at Oxford, from 1707 to 1720, and reproduced, but imperfectly, the "Codex Alexandrinus" of London. For partial editions, see Vigouroux, "Dict. de la Bible", 1643 sqq.

[edit] Translations of the Septuagint

The Septuagint has been translated into English. Most notable is Brenton's English Translation of the Septuagint, based primarily upon Codex Vaticanus. More recently, Brenton's translation has been used as the inspiration for a modern-language version, by Paul Esposito, The Apostles' Bible.

Further, Peter A. Papoutsis has translated a substantial amount of the Septuagint into English in his translation called The Holy Orthodox Bible. This translation is based on Greek Orthodox Biblical and Liturgical texts of the Septuagint as used in The Holy Orthodox Church.

[edit] Defining Septuagint

Although the integrity of the Septuagint as a text distinct from the Masoretic is upheld by Dead Sea scroll evidence, the LXX does show signs of age in that textual variants are attested. There is at least one highly unreliable complete text of the LXX, Codex Alexandrinus. The whole Septuagint is also found in the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, which do not perfectly coincide. But the LXX is a particularly excellent text when compared to other ancient works with textual variants. To reject the existence of a Septuagint merely on the basis of variation due to editorial recension and typographical error is unjustified. <ref>Prieslty</ref><ref>"A New Look at the Septuagint"</ref>

The title "Septuagint" is of course not to be confused with the seven or more other Greek versions of the Old Testament, most of which do not survive except as fragments. These other Greek versions were once in side-by-side columns of Origen's Hexapla, now almost wholly lost. Of these the most important are "the three:" those by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, which are identified by particular Semiticisms and placement of Hebrew and Aramaic characters within their Greek texts.

One of two Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel has been recently rediscovered and work is ongoing in reconstructing the original form of the Septuagint as a whole.

[edit] Table of books

LXX LXX Anglicized MT Anglicized



Law
Γένεσις Genesis Genesis
Ἔξοδος Exodus Exodus
Λευϊτικόν Leviticus Leviticus
Ἀριθμοί Numbers Numbers
Δευτερονόμιον Deuteronomy Deuteronomy
History
Ἰησοῦς Nαυῆ Jesus Nauë Joshua
Κριταί Judges Judges
Ῥούθ Ruth Ruth
Βασιλειῶν<ref>Βασιλειῶν (Basileiōn) is the genitive plural of Βασιλεῖα (Basileia).</small>
</ref>
Reigns
    Α'      I I Samuel
    Β'      II II Samuel
    Γ'      III I Kings
    Δ'      IV II Kings
Παραλειπομένων Omissions
    Α'      I I Chronicles
    Β'      II II Chronicles
Ἔσδρας Esdras
    Α' 1 Esdras
    Β'      II Ezra
ΝΕΕΜΙΑΣ Νehemias Nehemiah
Ἐσθήρ Esther Esther+
Ἰουδίθ Iudith
Τωβίτ<ref>also called Τωβείτ or Τωβίθ in some editions. This name has been challenged. See Talk:Septuagint#Call_For_Help and Talk:Septuagint#Tobit_vs_Tobias</ref> Tobit
Μακκαβαίων Α' 1 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Β' 2 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Γ' 3 Maccabees
Wisdom
Ψαλμοί Psalms , inc. Psalm 151 Psalms
Προσευχὴ Μανάσση Prayer of Manasseh
Ἰώβ Iōb Job
Παροιμίαι ΣΟΛΟΜΩΝΤΟΣ Proverbs Proverbs 1-29
Ἐκκλησιαστής Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes
Ἆσμα Ἀσμάτων Song of Songs Song of Solomon
Σοφία Σαλoμῶντος Wisdom of Salomon
Σοφία Ἰησοῦ Σειράχ Wisdom of Jesus Seirach
Prophets
Δώδεκα The Twelve
    Ὡσηέ Α'      I. Osëe Hosea
    Ἀμώς Β'      II. Ämōs Amos
    Μιχαίας Γ'      III. Michai Micah
    Ἰωήλ Δ'      IV. Ioel Joel
    Ὀβδίου Ε'<ref>Obdiou is genitive from "The vision of Obdias," which opens the book. English typically simplifies the Greek ending -ias to -y, as in Jeremy, Zachary, Toby, etc, and thus "Obdy."</ref>      V. Obdy Obadiah
    Ἰωνᾶς Ϛ'      VI. Ionas Jonah
    Ναούμ Ζ'      VII. Naum Nahum
    Ἀμβακούμ Η'      VIII. Ambakum Habakkuk
    Σοφονίας Θ'      IX. Sophony Zephaniah
    Ἀγγαῖος Ι'      X. Ängai Haggai
    Ζαχαρίας ΙΑ'     XI. Zachary Zachariah
    Ἄγγελος ΙΒ'      XII. Messenger Malachi
Ἠσαΐας Hesai Isaiah
Ἱερεμίας Hieremy Jeremiah
Βαρούχ Baruch
Θρῆνοι Lamentations Lamentations
Επιστολή Ιερεμίου Epistle of Jeremiah
Ἰεζεκιήλ Iezekiel Ezekiel
Δανιήλ Daniel Daniel+
Appendix
Μακκαβαίων Δ' Παράρτημα 4 Maccabees

NOTE: LXX=Septuagint, MT=Masoretic Text. To these books of the old Greek LXX were added the Anagignoskomena before the time of Christ. This table does not attempt a verse-mapping of texts.

[edit] Notes

<references/>

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] General

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[edit] Texts and translations

[edit] The LXX and the NT

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Septuagint

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