Works of Richard R. Ottley (3 vols.) in Logos Bible Software

Ottley Isaiah cover

I’ve been using R.R. Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint as I participate in Greek Isaiah in Year.

The two-volume work is available in print through Wipf & Stock here on Amazon. Or you can download the whole thing here for free as a .pdf, since it’s in the public domain. This will be sufficient for many folks who want to check out this work.

Logos Bible Software also has an edition of Ottley’s work (here), a three-volume Works of Richard R. Ottley. In addition to Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint, the Logos bundle includes his Handbook to the Septuagint. That work is also free and in the public domain (get it here).

For the kind of close reading I’ve been doing with the Greek Isaiah group, having these texts integrated with the rest of Logos has been quite convenient and a big time-saver.

Volume 1 of Ottley’s Isaiah work has:

  • Introduction
    • Early History of the Septuagint
    • Text of the LXX in Isaiah
    • Methods of Rendering
    • Differences between the LXX and the Hebrew
  • List of Manuscripts containing Isaiah in Greek
  • Parallel Translations

The introduction briefly addresses issues of dating, as well as the various editions of the Greek (the Hexapla, etc.). The “Text of the LXX in Isaiah” section treats in more detail the Greek manuscripts, as well as later translations like the Syro-Hexaplar and Old Latin, which were made from the Greek. Ottley notes that Codex Vaticanus (B) “falls below its usual standard” and is “a worse representative of the LXX than usual,” being “inferior to other extant manuscripts.” Throughout these two volumes, then, he pursues “the question of securing the best available text.”

“Methods of Rendering” in the Introduction compares Septuagint Greek to New Testament Greek (finding “in it much resemblance”), yet Ottley also notes that Septuagint translators saught to keep “various Semitic idioms, and a dim reflection of Semitic arrangement and style.” These are not especially earth-shattering insights for the student of the Septuagint today, but Ottley does provide a helpful tour of the Greek grammar of Isaiah in introductory fashion. He also relates the Greek to the Hebrew it translated:

[The LXX translators] seem to have selected the aorist as the best equivalent for the Hebrew perfect, and the future for the Hebrew imperfect, and used them, when the context did not absolutely forbid, to represent rather than to translate these forms.

As far as differences between the Greek and the Hebrew, Ottley notes omissions, additions (scholars now, I believe, prefer to speak of “minuses” and “pluses,” since “omissions”/”additions” can prejudice the discussion), paraphrases, differences in syntax, and more. He includes a lengthy list of references in illustration of each kind of difference.

The rest of volume 1 is taken up with Ottley’s “Parallel Translations,” where he presents his English translations of the Hebrew and of the Greek side-by-side on different pages. Each page includes several translation footnotes.

Here is where the Logos edition becomes especially handy. Using the Text Comparison tool, I can easily see how Ottley’s English translation of the Greek compares with his English translation of the Hebrew, to get a feel for how the two underlying texts differ:

Ottley English translation comparison

Even with a free .pdf of the work available in the public domain, being able to use Logos’s tools to interact with the text makes it worth having.

Volume 2, then, contains Ottley’s own presentation of Greek Isaiah, with Codex Alexandrinus (A) as “the basis for the Greek text here printed.” As with the Göttingen edition of the Septuagint, Ottley has a critical apparatus at the bottom of the page that notes variants. His is not quite as exhaustive as Göttingen, but neither does it lack detail. In the print edition, following the Greek text are some nearly 300 pages of notes on Greek Isaiah.

And in Logos, one can view all of Ottley’s work on Isaiah at once, together with the Hebrew text and various lexicons (not included with this module). For reading Ottley’s Greek text of Isaiah, I have the Greek scrolling with the critical apparatus and the notes and translation, so that I can simultaneously see all that Ottley has about a given verse. As here:

Ottley in Logos

Note: in the image above I actually have the Göttingen text open, with Ottley right behind it in another tab. For reading through Isaiah, I like to still have a morphologically tagged text going; Ottley is not so tagged. But you can sync everything together so that you barely notice that.

It’s not impossible, of course, to flip back and forth between the pages of a print version, or to scroll back and forth through a free .pdf. But Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint integrates seamlessly with the rest of Logos. And when reading his Handbook to the Septuagint, any verses or abbreviations are hyperlinked so that you can mouse over them as you read and pop-ups will display with the relevant information.

This three-volume set in Logos is very well done, and easily does things that neither a print copy nor a .pdf can do. Being able to see all of Ottley’s work on a single verse at a glance–as well as compare it with other LXX texts using the Text Comparison tool–is the true highlight of this resource.

The three volume Works of Richard R. Ottley in Logos can be found here. My thanks to Logos for the review copy, provided for the purposes of this review but not with any expectation as to its content. Ottley in Logos has also been a great help to me as the group administrator of Greek Isaiah in a Year.

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