Review of A Greek-Hebrew/Aramaic Two-way Index to the Septuagint by T. Muraoka

T Muraoka

As I read Isaiah 22:19 recently, I had a question about a rarely occurring word in that verse. The Greek reads:

καὶ ἀφαιρεθήσῃ ἐκ τῆς οἰκονομίας σου καὶ ἐκ τῆς στάσεώς σου.

(And you will be removed from your office and from your post.)

The word οἰκονομία occurs in the Septuagint only here and two verses later. In the New Testament it appears just nine times.

A traditional lexicon (like LEH or LSJ) can give useful information about the word, but not necessarily any information about the underlying Hebrew. LEH just has, “Is 22:19-21 stewardship.” Muraoka’s work, by contrast, is a two-way index, which means you don’t get a definition or gloss (as LEH or LSJ give). What you do get, however, is what Hebrew word a given Greek word is thought to have translated. As here:

οἰκονομία entry
οἰκονομία entry (part 1 of index)

Already the reader is interested to see that the same Greek word used twice within three verses translates a different underlying Hebrew word in each case. (N.B.: I realize that in Septuagint lexicography, to speak of “Greek that translates Hebrew” is an oversimplification, as there are other textual considerations that give rise to a given “Septuagint” text.)

Then one can consult the Hebrew–>Greek portion of the index (part two of the book) to see what other Greek words (if any) are used where each of those two Hebrew words is used. In other words, Muraoka helps answer the question: did the translator of Greek Isaiah have other Greek options available to him when confronted with the Hebrew text?

Looking at Muraoka’s entry for the first of the two options above (ממשׁלה), the answer is yes:

ממשׁלה entry
ממשׁלה entry (part 2 of index)

What is of note here is that Muraoka’s work makes it possible to see at a glance what sort of translation decisions have been made in going from Hebrew to Greek text.

As I study the Septuagint, I (and others) wonder about these things. How often does the Greek καρδία translate the Hebrew לבב? This breaks down into two questions: (1) What other Greek words are used to translate לבב? and (2) For occurrences in the Greek text of καρδία, what other Hebrew words might it be translating?

Muraoka writes this in the introduction:

This two-way index is meant to supplement our recently published lexicon as well as Hatch and Redpath’s Septuagint Concordance.

Up to the second edition of our lexicon published in 2002 many of the entry words had at the end a list of Hebrew/Aramaic words or phrases which are translated in the Septuagint with the entry word in question. In the latest edition of the lexicon, however, we have decided to delete all these lists as not integral to the lexicon. This set of information is important all the same for better understanding of the Septuagint, its translation techniques, the Septuagint translators’ ways of relating to the Hebrew/Aramaic words and phrases in their original text. In order fully to understand how a Hebrew/Aramaic lexeme or phrase X was perceived to relate to a Greek lexeme or phrase Y one would need to study each biblical passage, with the help of HR, to which the equivalence applies. Yet a quick overview of, and easy access to, the range of Greek words or phrases can be helpful and illuminating. Therefore we are presenting these data here separately as Part I of this two-way Index.

As shown in the example above, part 1 is Greek to Hebrew. Part 2 is Hebrew to Greek.

The numbers next to the Greek words above are a key to the Hatch-Redpath Concordance that Muraoka mentions. That concordance (published early in the 20th century), has all the Greek words used in the Septuagint, together with what was thought to be the underlying Hebrew. The back of the HR concordance has a list that shows all the Hebrew words (alphabetically) with the Greek words used to translate them. But you actually just get an entry like this…

אָמַר qal 37c, 74a, 109c, 113c, 120a, 133a, 222a, 267a, 299b, 306b, 313a, 329c, 339b, 365a, 384a, 460c, 477a, 503c, 505c, 520b, 534c, 537b, 538b, 553b, 628b, 757b, 841c, 863c, 881c, 991b, 1056b, 1060a, 1061a, 1139a, 1213b, 1220c, 1231bc, 1310b, 1318b, 1423c, 1425b69b, 72b, 173a, 183b, c, 200a(2), 207 c, 211b.

…so that you have to go back manually through the concordance to see what words are at 37c (page 37, column c), 74a, etc. It would be tedious to look up all the Greek words translated the Hebrew אָמַר.

The second half of the two-way index more conveniently lists the above entry as:

אָמַר qal αἰτεῖν (37c), ἀναγγέλλειν (74a)…

The HR page and column references are still there, but the actual Greek words are present now.

Muraoka has also updated HR’s lexical analysis by including insights gained recently through textual criticism, new manuscripts (HR did not have the Dead Sea Scrolls), more analysis of apocryphal/deuterocanonical books, and so on.

In part one (only) Muraoka includes basic frequency statistics–how many times a given Hebrew word is what the Greek entry translates. In this index he is “content with the use of <+> symbol…when a given equivalence appears to occur very frequently.” The statistics are not comprehensive or complete, as Muraoka points out.

It’s not fair to fault Muraoka for not including a definition or gloss for his entries, since this is an index. The reader just needs to make sure to know this doesn’t and isn’t intended to replace a full-blown lexicon.

In fact, I appreciated Muraoka’s humility and realism in writing:

Our revision of HR, however, is still incomplete. Ideally, one should study each verse of every Septuagint book translated from either Hebrew or Aramaic and compare it with what is judged to be the Semitic Vorlage of the Septuagint text. This is a project for the future, and we doubt that such an investigation can be performed wholly and mechanically with a computer.

This is, in fact, the best way to use the index–with a computer and the original language texts nearby to do further investigation as needed. But even with a computer, the index is an invaluable resource and welcome contribution to the growing field of Septuagint studies. Muraoka has done a great service to Septuagint readers by publishing the two-way index.

Thanks to Peeters Publishers for the review copy of this work, offered without any expectation as to the positive or critical nature of my review. The book’s product page is here. It’s on Amazon here.

7 thoughts on “Review of A Greek-Hebrew/Aramaic Two-way Index to the Septuagint by T. Muraoka

  1. Abram,

    I’m a bit jealous you get to review all of this original language stuff!

    I did some work on the translation technique of the LXX in the minor prophets (Amos and Habakkuk specifically) and used Accordance with the MT-LXX parallel pretty extensively. Accordance also has LEH but I don’t believe it has Muraoka’s supplemental index.

    Anyways, doing the searches can be a bit tricky but saving the workspaces can cut down on a lot of manual work. The benefit of computer searching, besides the speed, is that it allows you to fill out the enitre “venn diagram”.

    For example, I was looking into how often logizomai was translated as hsb. I can find out how often they are translations of each other (the middle of the venn diagram) and how often logizomai is translated by something else (the left side of the venn diagram) and how often hsb is translated as something else (the right side). Further investigation showed a lot of instances hsb not being translated as logizomai was actually it be translated as a related word – sunlogizomai and other such prefixed words.

    1. Bob–great feedback. Thanks!

      I also use Accordance with that parallel (and BibleWorks has a really nice layout of MT-LXX, too). It does not have Muraoka, and may not get it any time soon (nor Logos).

      I have one saved workspace, but I’m not sure I’m set up to do what you describe so easily. Are you willing to email me with your saved workspaces attached? Sounds like you’ve got a nice setup.

      1. Lemme see if I can root around and find it. I might even blog a bit about some of the research… been meaning to write more anyways. Would be a good motivator.

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