“Who Am I… that You Have Loved Me Forever?” Another Reason to Love the Septuagint

I’m already finding Will Ross’s LXX Reading plan rewarding. My Greek is improving again, and it’s been a rich devotional practice.

Here’s another reason to love the Septuagint: a beautiful, praise-inducing textual variant one would never see when reading the Hebrew text or its English translations.

This comes in a passage where David responds to God’s promise of an eternal throne, a message given through the prophet Nathan.

Here is 1 Chronicles 17:16, in the Masoretic text and the NRSV:

מִֽי־אֲנִ֞י יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ וּמִ֣י בֵיתִ֔י כִּ֥י הֲבִיאֹתַ֖נִי עַד־הֲלֹֽם
“Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”
Here it is in the Septuagint, with the New English Translation of the Septuagint:
Τίς εἰμι ἐγώ, κύριε ὁ θεός, καὶ τίς ὁ οἶκός μου, ὅτι ἠγάπησάς με ἕως αἰῶνος;
Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house, that you have loved me forever?

“You have brought me thus far” (Hebrew) vs. “you have loved me forever” (Greek). Both beautiful, but the latter is simply arresting.

Okay, so you would learn about this if you were reading the Hebrew with the BHS and its apparatus, which notes the variant by back-translating the Greek into the Hebrew the translator might have been looking at:

𝔊 ἠγάπησάς με ἕως αἰῶνος = אֲהַבְתַּנִי עַד־עוֹלָם

In other words, the Greek translator could have been looking at the same Hebrew and just transposed a few letters.

Interestingly, the Tov/Polak MT-LXX parallel picks up the difference between “thus far” (MT) and “forever” (LXX) but not “brought me” (MT) vs. “loved me” (LXX). Even the parallel 2 Samuel 7:18 (LXX) doesn’t fully mirror this Chronicles verse. It has instead:

ὅτι ἠγάπηκάς με ἕως τούτων = that you have loved me thus far (lit., until these)

Regardless of which reading has the most support (and I just don’t have access to original manuscripts!), the LXX of 1 Chronicles 17:16 is certainly beautiful!

Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house, that you have loved me forever?

What do you think?

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