Today I read Psalm 1 out of the just-released Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition, and it was just as wonderful as I’ve long imagined it would be!
First and foremost, this is due to the power of Scripture itself. The Psalms are just amazing. And there’s something about reading the Bible in its first languages that fosters (at least for me) a deeper sense of connection to the church throughout time and space.
But until this month, Bible readers and original language students could only read the Septuagint with the aid of a lexicon or Bible software. Other than a few tools with selected passages, there was no edition of the Septuagint with footnoted vocabulary and parsings throughout, so that you could pick up one book and read, with all the help you needed at the bottom of the page.
Readers of this blog are likely aware of the existence of a reader’s Hebrew Bible and a reader’s Greek New Testament. I have pined for a reader’s edition of the Septuagint, and now it exists. Mine arrived in the mail today.
It’s heavy, beautiful, and awesome.
I fully applaud the decision to make this a two-volume work. (How could it be otherwise?) Included underneath the text is an apparatus:
In order to facilitate natural and seamless reading of the text, every word occurring 100 times or fewer in the Rahlfs-Hanhart text (excluding proper names)—as well as every word that occurs more than 100 times in the Rahlfs-Hanhart text but fewer than 30 times in the Greek New Testament—is accompanied by a footnote that provides a contextual gloss for the word and (for verbs only) full parsing.
For everything else there is a Glossary at the back of each volume.
Everything is beautifully typeset–much better-looking than the Rahlfs-Hanhart Septuagint text (all due respect to that typesetter!). The font is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. The pages are cream-colored (which looks great) and not at all the wispy-thin Bible paper I was expecting. AND the binding is sewn. This Septuagint will last a lifetime.
What does the text itself look like, you wonder?
The only thing I have approximating lack of complete satisfaction with these beautiful volumes is the exclusion of the Odes that are in the Rahlfs-Hanhart text. The decision of editors Greg Lanier and Will Ross is in keeping with a more attested LXX text; besides, other than the Prayer of Manasseh, which they include, the other Odes are already present elsewhere in the Septuagint. Best to think of the Odes as a sort of hymnal for the early church, rather than an actual “book” of the LXX. (The New English Translation of the Septuagint says in its introduction that the Odes have “dubious integrity as a literary unit.”) So I’ll be the first to acknowledge that this “critique” has no textual or methodological grounding whatsoever and is solely rooted in my own desire to read through the worshipful Odes with footnoted vocabulary and parsings. 🙂
Of course, if I know the right places to go, I still can read the Odes:
Now… about that apparatus! The two columns (rather than continuous lines) make it really easy to move back and forth between the vocab/parsings and the text itself. Again, A+ on typesetting and layout. And I so appreciate that Lanier and Ross have included verb parsings… not every reader’s Bible does. This way readers can work both on their vocabulary and their ability to parse less familiar verbs. Here’s a close-up:
I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the work Lanier, Ross, and others put in to this project. A major desideratum of Greek reading and Septuagint studies is finally here, and so far, it has far exceeded my expectations.
A full review is coming later. For now, check out this masterpiece here at CBD, where it is available for a totally-worth-it sale price.
Thanks to the awesome people at Hendrickson for the review copy, sent to me with no expectation as to the content of this review.