The Göttingen Septuagint in Logos Bible software

Photo by Logos
Photo by Logos

Göttingen. Not just a city in Germany, but a word that instills awe and fear in the hearts of every student of the Septuagint who must eventually consult the set of Old Greek editions by that name.

Okay, that’s maybe a bit dramatic. I do suspect, however, that if one finds it challenging to learn how to read the leading critical edition of the Hebrew Bible–the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia or BHS–the Göttingen Septuagint will prove even more difficult to decipher.

Not impossible, though.

In celebration of International Septuagint Day Friday, here I review the Göttingen Septuagint in Logos Bible Software. The full name is Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum. It’s published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen, Germany. The Göttingen Septuagint has published over 20 volumes covering some 40 biblical books (counting the minor prophets as 12). Publication of additional volumes, while slow-going, is in progress.

The typical contents of a volume include:

  1. The introduction (“Einleitung”)
  2. The reconstructed Greek critical text (“Der kritische Text”)
  3. The Source List (“Kopfleiste”) (not every Göttingen volume has this)
  4. The First Critical Apparatus (“Apparat I”)
  5. The Second Critical Apparatus (“Apparat II”)

In two previous posts I wrote a primer on how to read and understand the Göttingen Septuagint. In part 1 I wrote about the reconstructed Greek critical text and the source list (full post is here). In part 2 I explained how to understand the first critical apparatus, here. Each of those posts contains additional explication of Göttingen, so the one who is new to it may want to pause here to read more there. Having written at length about numbers 2-4 above, a future post will cover 1 (the introduction) and 5 (the second critical apparatus).

Logos is the only Bible software that has available all of the published volumes of the Göttingen Septuagint. Though Logos offers the set in 67 volumes, that corresponds to the 24 existing print volumes. This includes the 2004 Supplementum, which offers a “list of Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament,” sorted by date, region, writing material, and more, and which also cross-references various editors’ classifications of manuscripts against each other, so that differing systems can easily be compared.

There is, of course, the question of which Bible software to use in general. I’ve written about issues like layout, functionality, cost, and so on here, which includes both praises and critiques of Logos, Accordance, and BibleWorks. So what about Göttingen in Logos?

From what I’ve seen, the text of Göttingen in Logos is the most accurate digital text available. I am aware of others who have found typos in Göttingen for Logos, but based on a verse-by-verse read of Isaiah 1-11, I found just one error in Logos compared to the print text. The Accordance text of Göttingen for Isaiah, by contrast, had 14 spelling mistakes, misplaced words, or wrong inflections in that same span. This was a surprise to me, since Accordance aims to produce “research-grade” texts, a goal which sometimes means their texts take longer to complete than other software companies. (Accordance currently has some, but not all, of the Göttingen volumes that exist in print.) As of right now, as far as the actual critical text of Göttingen, Logos seems to be the best bet for consistent correspondence to the print text.

It’s easy to set up the critical text and both apparatuses in three separate areas in Logos, syncing them to scroll together. One can also easily add a tab with an English translation, Hebrew Masoretic text, and more, so as to use Göttingen in conjunction with other resources. Here’s how I use Göttingen in Logos (click for larger):

Göttingen Isaiah layout

Assuming you have other versions of the Septuagint available in Logos (Rahlfs, Swete, etc.) you can use the Text Comparison feature (top right in the shot above) to see where the critical text of Göttingen differs from another Septuagint text. I’ve found this to be a useful and time-saving feature. (One can do the same with the Compare tool in Accordance, though there’s an unresolved issue with that tool that impacts use of Göttingen. [UPDATE: It’s now resolved.] Accordance’s comparison tool is, however, a bit more versatile with its “List Text Differences” feature.)

You can use the critical text as any other text in Logos–double-click on a word to look it up in a lexicon (I have LEH open at bottom center above), right-click to do a variety of other searches, word study, etc. It doesn’t take long to see how many times the Göttingen text uses a given word.

As to the critical apparatuses, you can mouse over blue hyperlinked abbreviations to find out what they stand for. Or you can have an Information window open, as here (click to enlarge):

Abbreviations spelled out

The apparatus abbreviates Latin and German, which is what the Information tab shows. (The Göttingen introductions are in German.) Miles Van Pelt’s short chart (in English) is helpful with the Latin (pdf here). And there is an English translation of the Pentateuch introductions available here (with Exodus being the most complete one). But there is no mechanism in Logos to translate the German or to decipher the apparatus. Accordance is the same here, and neither Logos nor Accordance offer a German-English dictionary, so one couldn’t even link to that. The general academic assumption, of course, is that by the time someone is using Göttingen in their study of the Septuagint, they are already learning (or have learned) German. (Ah, but academic assumptions….) I’m not sure it’s fair to fault Logos (or Accordance) for this lack, but a German-English dictionary as a future module would help a lot of users.

Speaking of the introduction, the introductions to each volume are nicely laid out with plenty of hyperlinks for easy reference:

Introduction to Isaiah

You’ll have to know German to get very far in the introduction, but note the link above to English translations for some of the introductions. Also, though one ought not to rely too much on it, Google Translate takes the user surprisingly far if she or he simply copies from Logos and pastes here.

One thing lacking in the Logos Göttingen is the Kopfleiste (Source List). Not every print volume has it, but the five Pentateuch volumes, Ruth, Esther, and others do. Accordance, by contrast, includes this feature for the Göttingen volumes that have it. The Kopfleiste makes the most sense in a print edition (since it is a list of manuscripts cited on a given page), but someone doing serious textual research using Göttingen in Logos would still feel its lack. No word yet from Logos on if/when that will come available.

What about searching the apparatuses? Less than ideal here, though not unmanageable. If I want to see every time the First Critical Apparatus in Isaiah cites the Minuscule manuscript 301, I right click to “Search this resource,” but the results are grouped as follows (click to enlarge):


To my knowledge it is not possible to expand these results in this screen (pane) to see every use of MS 301, which is what I really want to be able to do. (If I am mistaken and find a way, I’ll post here again.) The shortcut command+F (in Mac) or control+F (in Windows) is an alternate way to search a text in Logos. The apparatuses are searchable using this keyboard shortcut; in this case all the instances of MS 301 are highlighted as you scroll through the apparatus, so you can still see all its occurrences.

Accordance, by contrast, offers multiple ways of searching an apparatus: by references, titles, manuscripts (most helpful), Hebrew, Greek, or Latin content, and more. This makes Accordance’s apparatuses really usable and easy to navigate in multiple ways.

accordance search fields

The price for the Logos Göttingen is a bargain. I mean, $700 is not cheap, but considering that the same sum would get you just a few volumes of the print edition, it’s a great deal. The academic program gives you a significant discount in this case, too.

By the way, a tip for using Göttingen efficiently in Logos: Brian Davidson of LXXI has a neat way to set up a Logos layout to include multiple Göttingen books. (They list in the Logos library all as separate volumes, not as one Septuagint.) His suggestion (here) is a good way to go.

All in all, the Logos Göttingen is a worthwhile investment, especially if you primarily want Göttingen for the critical text itself, and for the chance to compare it with other Septuagint editions. The lack of a Kopfleiste is not an immense loss, but the inability to search apparatuses by multiple search fields (and with expandable results) is a drawback. So the potential purchaser will just have to consider what his or her needs are. Accordance nails it in apparatus searching, but their critical text in Isaiah had more mistakes than one who needs an accurate text would like.

Logos has a fully digitized Göttingen Septuagint, so if you need access to everything that exists in print, know that this is the only Bible software where you can get it. Accordance continues production on their volumes and, as far as I know, will see the project through to completion. (Though see here and here, a project of Computer Assisted Tools for Septuagint Studies.)

In Logos it’s convenient to be able to scroll through all of the Göttingen Septuagint with additional resources open and a click away. The electronic availability (and affordability) of Göttingen is a significant step forward in text criticism and Septuagint studies.

Many thanks to Logos Bible Software for the review copy of the Göttingen Septuagint, given to me for the purposes of review, but with no expectation as to the content of my review. Accordance provided me with their Göttingen Isaiah for purposes of comparison.

9 thoughts on “The Göttingen Septuagint in Logos Bible software

  1. Hi Abram!
    Is the Göttingen Septuagint in Logos morphologically tagged? And if so, what are the search capabilities like vis-à-vis Accordance? I’m working with the Greek Psalter for my dissertation, and that volume isn’t out yet for Accordance. 😦

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tony!

      Yes, it’s morphologically tagged in Logos. The search capabilities are stronger in Accordance–for example, it’s significantly easier in Accordance to search the critical apparatus by manuscript.

      But Logos has everything digitally that has been published in print.

  2. Thanks for the fast reply! I’d really love to be able to do an Accordance-style construct search across all of the Göttingen OG, but I guess that is many years away yet. 😦

    On a separate note, it looks like the unresolved compare issue you mention above is now resolved.

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