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Micah and the Septuagint

June 2, 2012

A few semesters ago I had the privilege of taking a great class at Gordon-Conwell with Dr. Doug Stuart: Intermediate Hebrew Grammar (syllabus PDF).  Dr. Stuart is an excellent professor and scholar.  In that class we worked our way through the Hebrew text of Micah (which is quite a challenge!).  The class left a lasting impression on me, and kindled in me a love for the prophet Micah.  (It doesn’t hurt that I have a really great brother with that same name.)

Now I’m doing a “reading course” (directed study) with Dr. Al Padilla in the Greek Old Testament version of Micah (as well as I Maccabees 1-4).  The Greek in Micah is as difficult as the Hebrew (which it translates), but I’m having a great time working my way through the book again and trying to increase my Greek vocabulary.

Part of my course is to read a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time, Invitation to the Septuagint, by Dr. Karen Jobes (who teaches at Wheaton, where I did undergrad) and Moises Silva (who used to teach at Gordon-Conwell).  It’s a fantastic introduction–simple enough, yet still challenging.  The Greek Old Testament (“Septuagint”) translated the Hebrew Bible beginning in about the 3rd century B.C.  Thus it “was the primary theological and literary context within which the writers of the New Testament and most early Christians worked” (23).  Our English Bibles today translated the Old Testament from Hebrew, whereas New Testament writers quoted the Old Testament in Greek–which is why a NT quotation may differ from the OT when you go look it up in an English Bible.

I’m excited to read more of this book and continue my studies in Micah.  What is really fascinating to me is how Septuagint scholars have to know both Greek and Hebrew cold, since much of their work is trying to figure out what Hebrew the Greek before them translated.  I may never get to that level with my languages, but I’m going to at least make a little progress in the meantime.

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