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“Septuagint” is the wrong word to use

July 29, 2012


“Septuagint” is perhaps the wrong word to use to describe the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Just about every author I’ve read so far on the Septuagint is quick to point this out. In the mail the other day I was happy to receive my review copy of Tessa Rajak’s Translation & Survival: The Greek Bible of the Ancient Jewish Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2009). She puts it this way:

The term “Septuagint” does not appear in the title of this book, and that is no accident. It is in fact an inappropriate description for the Jewish Bible in Greek. The problem is that “Septuagint” is a term which evolved in the usage of the early Church and refers to the corpus created there as we find it in the great biblical codices of the fourth century CE. It is precisely these layers of reception that we shall need to strip away, at any rate until the last chapter of this book. But even were we to resolve to stick with the name, as one of convenience, we would soon find that the ambiguities and complications of its usage outweighed that convenience. (14-15)

Larry Hurtado recommends the book here. Keep checking back here–I’ll have a full review up some time next month.

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