How to Read and Understand the Göttingen Septuagint: A Short Primer, part 1

The Göttingen Septuagint is the Cadillac of Septuagint editions. It’s the largest scholarly edition of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Its full name is Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum, published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen, Germany. The Göttingen Septuagint has published more than 20 volumes spanning some 40 biblical books (counting the minor prophets as 12), and publication of additional volumes is in progress.

But the Göttingen Septuagint is not for the faint of heart, or for the reader who is unwilling to put some serious work in to understanding the layout and import of the edition and its critical apparatuses. A challenge to using Göttingen is the paucity of material available about the project, even in books about the Septuagint. An additional challenge is that the critical apparatuses contain Greek, abbreviated Greek, and abbreviated Latin. The introductions to each volume are in German, though below I cite from English translations of the introductions to the volumes of the Pentateuch.

It is my intention with this post, and a second to follow, to give a short primer or user’s guide to the Göttingen edition. Here I offer suggestions on how to read and understand the text, the apparatuses, the sigla/abbreviations, the introductions, and point to additional resources that will be of benefit to the Göttingen user.

I recently put together a basic orientation to the scholarly editions of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek translation of the same. That is here. It is worth nothing again that the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) has a good, succinct article on the various editions of the Septuagint. Below, “OG” stands for “Old Greek.” They write:

The creation and propagation of a critical text of the LXX/OG has been a basic concern in modern scholarship. The two great text editions begun in the early 20th century are the Cambridge Septuagint and the Göttingen Septuagint, each with a “minor edition” (editio minor) and a “major edition” (editio maior). For Cambridge this means respectively H. B. Swete, The Old Testament in Greek (1909-1922) and the so-called “Larger Cambridge Septuagint” by A. E. Brooke, N. McLean, (and H. St. John Thackeray) (1906-). For Göttingen it denotes respectively Alfred Rahlfs’s Handausgabe (1935) and the “Larger Göttingen Septuagint” (1931-). Though Rahlfs (editio minor) can be called a semi-critical edition, the Göttingen Septuaginta (editio maior) presents a fully critical text….

In other words, rather than using a text based on an actual manuscript (as BHS, based on the Leningrad Codex, does), Göttingen utilizes a reconstructed text informed by a thorough examination of manuscript evidence. Göttingen has two critical apparatuses at the bottom of the page of most volumes. Because it is an editio maior and not an editio minor like Rahlfs, a given print page can have just a few lines of actual biblical text, with the rest being taken up by the apparatuses. Here’s a sample page from Genesis 1. Note the #s 1-4 that I’ve added to highlight the different parts of a page. Below I explain #1 and #2; the rest comes in a follow up post.

1. The reconstructed Greek critical text (“Der kritische Text”)

With verse references in both the margin and in the body of the text, the top portion of each page of the Göttingen Septuagint is the editorially reconstructed text of each biblical book. In the page from Genesis 1 above, you’ll notice that the text includes punctuation, accents, and breathing marks.

Like the NA27 (and now NA28) and UBS4 versions of the Greek New Testament, Göttingen is a critical or “eclectic” edition, which “may be described as a collection of the oldest recoverable texts, carefully restored book by book (or section by section), aiming at achieving the closest approximation to the original translations (from Hebrew or Aramaic) or compositions (in Greek), systematically reconstructed from the widest array of relevant textual data (including controlled conjecture)” (IOSCS, “Critical Editions”).

Of the critical text, John William Wevers, in his introduction to Genesis in Göttingen, writes:

Since it must be presupposed that this text will be standard for a long time, the stance taken by the editor over against the critical text was intentionally conservative. In general conjectures were avoided, even though it might be expected that future recognition would possibly confirm such conjectures.

It must be clearly evident that the critical text here offered labored under certain limitations. The mss, versions and patristic witnesses which are available to us bring us with few and small exceptions no further back than the second century of our era. Although we do know on the basis of second and third century B.C.E. papyri something about the character of every day Greek used, our knowledge of contemporary literary Greek is very limited indeed. In other words, the critical text here offered is an approximation of the original LXX text, hopefully the best which could be reconstructed on the basis of the present level of our knowledge. The editor entertains no illusion that he has restored throughout the original text of the LXX.

One cannot simply say, “The LXX says…,” because then inevitably an appropriate response is, “Which LXX? Which manuscript? Which or whose best attempt at reconstruction?” So “approximation of the original” and “hopefully the best which could be reconstructed” are key phrases here.

All the same, especially in the newer Göttingen editions, the volume editors have viewed and listed the readings of many manuscripts and versions. The critical apparatuses are where they list those readings, so the user of Göttingen can see other readings as they compare with the critically reconstructed text. (Because the Göttingen editions are critical/eclectic texts, no single manuscript will match the text of the Göttingen Septuagint.) And although scholarly editions of the Greek New Testament also present an eclectic text, neither the NA27 nor UBS 4 is an editio maior, as Göttingen is. (The Editio Critica Maior is just recently begun for the GNT.) Serious works in Septuagint studies, then, most often use the Göttingen text, where available, as a base.

2. The Source List (“Kopfleiste”)

Not every volume has this feature, but the five Pentateuch volumes, Ruth, Esther, and others do. The Kopfleiste comes just below the text and above the apparatuses. Wevers notes it as a list of all manuscripts and versions used, listed in the order that they appear in the apparatus on that page. A fragmentary textual witness is enclosed in parenthesis.

In the above Kopfleiste, the parentheses around 912 mean that papyrus 912 is fragmentary. The “-” preceding it, Wevers notes, means that its text ends on the page in question. So although this particular Göttingen page has Genesis 1:4-9 reconstructed in the critical text (“Der kritische Text”), “(-912)” in the Kopfleiste indicates that the fragmentary papyrus 912 does not actually contain text for all the verses on the page. Looking up papyrus 912 in Wevers’s introduction to Genesis, in fact, confirms that this third to fourth century papyrus contains only Genesis 1:1-5.

By contrast, the “(D-)” here

indicates that the uncial manuscript D has its text beginning on the page in which it appears in Göttingen. The above shot is from the Göttingen page containing Genesis 1:9-13. The first time D has anything to offer (since it is fragmentary, indicated by its enclosure in parentheses) is at 1:13. This alerts the reader that D has no witness to Genesis 1:1-12. Wevers’s introduction then gives more information about the contents of that manuscript. So, too, with the minuscule manuscript 128 above–the introduction says of 128, “Init [=Latin initium=the beginning] – 1,10 is absent.”

Wevers adds:

Should a piece of text be lacking due to some external circumstance in a particular ms, this is noted in the Source-List. For example if ms 17 lacks the text this is shown as O-17. What this means is that the entire O except 17 (which belongs to O) has the text in question. The abbreviation al (for alia manuscripta) refers to the mss which belong to no particular group, i.e. the so-called codices mixti as well as mss which are too fragmentary to allow classification. The expression verss designates all the versions which have the complete text of Genesis. Versions such as Syh to (31,53) and Pal, whose texts are not complete, are listed at the end of the Source-List (Kopfleiste).

In terms of the order of citing Greek textual witnesses:

In the apparatus the citation of Greek sources appears in the following order: First place is occupied by the uncial texts in alphabetical order, and characterized by a capital letter. Then the papyri are cited in the order of 801 to 999. Then the hexaplaric group [AKJ: “O” above] is given as well as the Catena groups [AKJ: C‘’], with the mss groups following in order as: b d f n s t y z; then the codd mixti, followed by the mss without a Rahlfs number. Next come the NT citations, and finally, the rest of the patristic witnesses in alphabetic order.

In the next part of this Göttingen Septuagint primer, I’ll explore #3 and #4 above, the First Critical Apparatus (“Apparat I”) and the Second Critical Apparatus (“Apparat II”), as well as take a closer look at the contents of the Introductions in the Göttingen editions (“Die Einleitung”).

UPDATE: Part 2 of the primer is here, with still more to follow.

Thanks to Brian Davidson of LXXI for his helpful suggestions on an earlier draft of this post.

What’s new in Logos 5

This video from Logos shows what’s new in Logos 5. It mentions some of the same features I wrote about in my early review. Of special note, though, is the explanation of the Bible Sense Lexicon, new in Logos 5, beginning at 2:23. The Silver package I received for review does not have the Bible Sense Lexicon, but the Gold package and packages above Gold do have it.

More Logos-created videos introducing version 5 are here.

Thanks to Logos for the review copy of Logos 5 with the Silver package, provided to me simply with the expectation that I offer my honest impressions of the program, which I began here.

Logos 5 Review: Initial Impressions

Logos 5 has arrived.

I started using Logos 4 two months ago for a review I finished last week. Now version 5 is released today. But 4 had been out several years, so v. 5 has been in the works for some time. Having had and used Logos 5 for a few days now, I want to offer an initial set of impressions by way of review.

As I installed Logos 5, it was nice to know that I’d have access to all of my same resources, layouts, and highlights in books from Logos 4 when version 5 downloaded. This is one of my favorite things about Logos, and a feature that sets it apart from other Bible software. Logos works best with Internet enabled; you use a log-in that works across multiple computers and devices. After using Logos on a Mac, yesterday I opened it on my PC, and it opened exactly as I had left it on the Mac–all the same windows opened to all the same pages, like I had never stopped working. This is an immense time saver and a great feature.

Knowing this made the thought of installing 5 in place of 4 easier to deal with. And, sure enough, when I opened Logos 5, even though I had a new Logos engine, all was as I had left it the last time I had used 4. The installation itself took 2.5 hours (on a machine with no Logos 4 on it at the time), with a long indexing process of some 5 hours or more to follow.

The icon in my dock for Logos 5 is the same as Logos 4 (unless this is still to be updated?)–I would have expected a change here to set apart the new product even more.

Logos has also changed the structuring of their base packages, so that I am reviewing something called “Silver,” a new combination of resources. There are, in fact, seven new base packages in Logos, as noted in their table below. The sale price is offered in conjunction with the new release.

Full Title Resource Count Print List Prices Retail Sale (15% off)
1 Starter 207 $3,500 $294.95 $250.71
2 Bronze 426 $8,000 $629.95 $535.46
3 Silver 699 $13,000 $999.95 $849.96
4 Gold 1,037 $21,000 $1,549.95 $1,317.46
5 Platinum 1,327 $28,700 $2,149.95 $1,827.46
6 Diamond 1,993 $52,500 $3,449.95 $2,932.46
7 Portfolio 2,563 $78,000 $4,979.95 $4,232.96

The Silver package is certainly an upgrade from the Original Languages Library I reviewed in Logos 4. The Silver package includes Swete’s Cambridge Septuagint, the entire New American Commentary series, a ton of preaching/illustration resources, and more. My library expanded significantly upon downloading Silver.

The default font changed (across resources) to a font I found less readable. It took me all of 30 seconds, though, to figure out how to go into preferences and change it back to a font called “Default (Logos 4).”

What’s new in Logos 5? The two most obvious changes are visible below (click image for larger). For one, the icons and command bar at top are joined by three additions: “Documents,” “Guides,” and “Tools.” This gives the user quicker access to more features and tasks in Logos.

The second big noticeable change is the addition of more “Guides” (it becomes obvious why it has its own place right next to the command bar). Note above the “Topic Guide,” Bibliography, and “Sermon Starter Guide.” (These join the Exegetical and Passage Guides.) The Bibliography is especially helpful to this occasional writer of academic papers, and can be adjusted to various styles.

Note also a neat customizable reading plan guide (below at bottom right, how I could read the Septuagint in a year) and a “Bible Word Study” (at top right) with graphic, among other results that come up.

I have mixed feelings about the additions of new Guides in Logos. Though my initial skepticism about the Exegetical and Passage Guides changed to appreciation the more I used them in Logos 4, it’s hard to know at this early stage of using Logos 5 whether these guides will prove helpful or just seem like clutter. The Sermon Guide holds promise, as it gathers resources in one place that would take time to compile by hand. However, the Exegetical and Passage Guides already do this, albeit with a slightly different focus.

The Bible Facts feature (new in Logos 5) is pretty cool, and could be useful in teaching settings. See here:

Whoever does graphic design at Logos is aces. Follow them on Facebook and you’ll see well-done graphics for verses each day. Bible Facts incorporates that. This is a good addition in Logos. It auto-suggests search terms and returns results quickly.

More about Logos 5, including full details of what’s new, can be found here, with some brand new videos here. I’ll provide an additional review installment once I’ve had chance to spend more time with the program.

UPDATE: A bit more from me on Logos 5 here.

UPDATE 2: A week later, further impressions on Logos 5.

Thanks to Logos for the review copy of Logos 5 with the Silver package, provided to me simply with the expectation that I offer my honest impressions of the program.

Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ) in Accordance 10

The next generation of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) is the Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ). I’ve written more generally about scholarly editions of the Hebrew Bible, and have reviewed the BHS module in Accordance already. In this post I review BHQ in Accordance.

Some excellent scholarly treatments of the BHQ have already appeared. Anyone serious about learning how to use this resource discerningly (as all text critics must be discerning) will do well to avail themselves to these, probably in this order:

  • Emanuel Tov: “The Biblia Hebraica Quinta–An Important Step Forward” (PDF). Tov says the BHQ is “much richer in data, more mature, judicious and cautious than its predecessors. It heralds a very important step forward in the BH series.” Yet at the same time, “This advancement implies more complex notations which almost necessarily render this edition less user-friendly for the non-expert.” That said, anyone who reads Tov’s 11-page introduction will be well-equipped to begin making use of BHQ.
  • Richard D. Weis: Biblia Hebraica Quinta and the Making of Critical Editions of the Hebrew Bible.” Weis has served as a member of BHQ’s editorial committee, so he is able to offer some good detail on “philosophical and pragmatic choices” made in publishing the editions. His article includes full sample pages of the print edition, too.
  • Blogger John F. Hobbins: “Taking Stock of Biblia Hebraica Quinta” (PDF). As I will note below, the oft-appearing, seldom-explained “prp=propositum=it has been proposed” of the BHS is replaced in BHQ with more conservatism in suggesting emendations. But Hobbins calls this “the chief drawback of BHQ” and writes “in defense of conjectural emendation” as it would appear in the apparatus. Not all text critics will agree–and many will appreciate BHQ’s approach–but his argument is compelling all the same.

Taking the BHQ for a spin alongside the BHS is perhaps the most helpful way to see how the two compare. It’s easy to have both side-by-side in Accordance. Here’s my workspace for reading the Hebrew Bible with BHS, BHQ, the apparatus for each, and the BHQ commentary. You can click or open in a new tab to enlarge.

You can see that the text of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 above is unchanged in the BHQ. Consonants, vowels, and cantillation marks are all the same. As the BHQ is based on the Leningrad Codex, just as the BHS is, the text itself is largely unchanged. (The BHQ, however, corrects the BHS to the Leningrad Codex based on new color photographs.)

Note that abbreviations in the BHQ apparatus are now abbreviations of English, not Latin. Those who have learned how to make use of the abbreviated Latin in the BHS apparatus may be somewhat disappointed to not be able to put that knowledge to use (and to have to learn a new system), but in the end this makes for a more widely accessible apparatus, in my view.

A comparison between the BHS apparatus and the BHQ apparatus at the same point is instructive. For Deuteronomy 6:4 BHS has a superscript “a” in the text after שְׁמַ֖ע, directing to footnote a, which reads: “𝔊 pr nonn vb.” I write here about the use of Accordance to quickly decipher the abbreviated Latin in the BHS critical apparatus. “𝔊 pr nonn vb” means something like, “The Old Greek/Septuagint puts before [שְׁמַ֖ע] several words.”

It’s easy enough, especially in the workspace how I have it set up above, to find out what these Greek words in question are: Καὶ ταῦτα τὰ δικαιώματα καὶ τὰ κρίματα, ὅσα ἐνετείλατο κύριος τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου. But the BHS alone does not give the reader much more guidance than that.

The BHQ apparatus, however, reads: “שְׁמַ֖ע Smr V S T | prec 4:45 Nash G ✝ •” Note that instead of a superscript letter in the text with the same letter as a footnote in the apparatus, the text of the BHQ is unmarked, and the apparatus note simply preceded by the word (שְׁמַ֖ע) under consideration. Some will find this gives the text an uncluttered feel; others may find it takes extra time to match text to apparatus. Hovering over the (all in English!) abbreviations in the BHQ in Accordance shows that the note says something like, “The Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, Syriac, and Targumim all begin with just שְׁמַ֖ע. In the Nash Papyrus and Old Greek שְׁמַ֖ע is preceded by the text from Deut. 4:45.” Then the ✝ notes that the BHQ commentary gives the matter more discussion. For text criticism, I have been thrilled about the addition of an included-in-the-book commentary on the text and apparatus.

The BHQ commentary at this verse reads:

The Shemaʿ in both the Nash Papyrus and G is prefaced by an introduction taken from 4:45 with the following differences: both attest a cj. before ‏אלה‎; both omit ‏העדות‎ and the cj. attached to the following word; both read ‏צוה‎ for ‏דבר, but with “the Lord” as subject in G, whereas the Nash Pappyrus and some G Mss follow M in reading “Moses”; finally, both insert במדבר after “Israel.” For further background to the combination of certain biblical passages for liturgical reading, with particular reference to this addition in G and the Nash Papyrus, see Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy, 193. The six extant phylacteries follow M.

Thumbs up here for the additional detail provided in the BHQ apparatus and commentary and for Accordance’s presentation of it. In the print edition the commentary is in a section of the fascicle that is separate from the apparatus. In Accordance you can easily lay it all out together and see it at once.

Just as BHS was, BHQ is being published in fascicles, so a bit at a time. The following six already exist in print:

  • Fascicle 5: Deuteronomy
  • Fascicle 7: Judges
  • Fascicle 13: The Twelve Minor Prophets
  • Fascicle 17: Proverbs
  • Fascicle 18: General Introduction and Megilloth (i.e., Ruth, Canticles, Qoheleth, Lamentations, Esther)
  • Fascicle 20: Ezra and Nehemiah

The BHQ module in Accordance has fascicles 5 (Deuteronomy), 18 (General Introduction and Megilloth), and 20 (Ezra and Nehemiah) so far. 13 (The Twelve Minor Prophets) and 17 (Proverbs) will be added free of charge to those who have the BHQ package. They exist in print but have not yet come from the German Bible Society to Accordance for digitization. When Judges comes to Accordance, it and future fascicles will be available as paid upgrades.

Accordance has produced a short video that shows a couple ways to use the BHQ, including a comparison with the print edition. It’s worth watching, since it explores not only the text, apparatus, and commentary that I cite above, but also the Masorah Magna (below the text in the print edition) and the Masorah Parva (at the margins of the print edition). Note especially (early in the video) how Accordance merges the Notes on the Masorah to eliminate the user’s need to go back and forth between references:

The place for the BHQ user to start is probably with the three articles at the beginning of this post. Then, the General Introduction contained in Fascicle 18 should be consulted. As with its other commentaries and books, Accordance has it presented beautifully. The English introduction tells what BHQ is, gives advice on how to use it (including full explanations of sigla and abbreviations), and tells a bit of background on the editorial processes leading to the BHQ as it is now. Click on the below for a larger image of the general introduction:

BHQ in Accordance is not morphologically tagged; Accordance does not currently have plans to tag it. But this is because the text is so similar to that of BHS already. Because I am so used to BHS and BHQ is still so new on the scene, I always have both open anyway, so I can easily get morphological tagging information from BHS. A tagged BHQ would be ideal, but it’s not a huge loss.

BHQ has less conjectural emendation than BHS. Case in point, “prp” (=”propositum”=”it has been proposed”) occurs 2,146 times in the BHS apparatus (a search that is exceedingly easy to do in Accordance). In BHQ what goes into “prp” is teased out a bit more. From the introduction to BHQ:

In cases where the editor proposes that a reading other than that of the base text is to be preferred, this is presented in the concluding portion of the entry following a double vertical stroke and the abbreviation “pref” (for “preferred reading”). The evidence supporting the preferred reading is recapitulated. If the preferred reading is not directly attested by any of the extant witnesses, but is only implied by their evidence, it is marked by the signal “(origin)”, i.e., that it is the indirectly attested origin of the extant readings. If the grammatical form of the preferred reading is not found otherwise in Hebrew of the biblical period, it is marked either as “unattest” (= “unattested”) or as “conjec-phil” (= “philological conjecture”), depending on the kind of external support for the reading. Where the proposed reading is a conjecture, it is not introduced by the abbreviation “pref” (= “preferred reading”), but by the abbreviation “conjec” (= “conjecture”). In line with the focus of the apparatus on the evidence of the text’s transmission, proposals for preferred readings will not seek to reconstruct the literary history of a text. Readings that are judged to derive from another literary tradition for a book will be characterized as “lit” (see the definitions of characterizations below).

Also,

Since the apparatus is devoted to the presentation and evaluation of the concrete evidence for the text’s transmission, a hypothetical reading (i.e., a conjecture) will have place in the apparatus of BHQ only when it is the only explanation of the extant readings in a case.

“Pref” occurs 201 times in the apparatus in the three fascicles so far published in Accordance. A primary difference in BHQ, though, is the level of textual or manuscript-based explanation given for why a certain reading is to be preferred. As someone who tries to be a cautious textual critic, I appreciate this.

Here are some additional resources for using BHQ:

  • A review of Fascicle 18 in Review of Biblical Literature (PDF)
  • A sample set of pages (print edition) of BHQ (PDF)… and note here that a .pdf of BHQ is not part of Accordance’s module
  • Accordance’s press release for BHQ
  • The product page for BHQ in Accordance

At least three things make it worth seriously considering adding BHQ in Accordance to your library. First, BHQ is a significant advance over BHS. Second, Accordance’s presentation of BHQ makes using it easier than it is in print. Third, the print editions would cost you just as much as or more than buying BHQ in Accordance. And, of course, an Accordance module is word-searchable, lighter to carry around, and so on.

All in all, BHQ in Accordance is well-produced, easy to use, and a great aid in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Thank you to Accordance for providing me with a copy of the BHS and BHQ modules for review. At the time of this writing, the sale price for that package was $149.99, an excellent deal. See all the parts of my Accordance 10 review (including the Beale/Carson commentary module) here. I reviewed BHQ’s predecessor, BHS, here.

BHS module in Accordance 10, reviewed

Oddly enough, the biggest challenge for me in my Hebrew exegesis classes was not to do with the Hebrew language itself. Instead, learning how to decipher the abbreviations and sigla in the “critical apparatus” of a scholarly Hebrew Bible stretched me most.

I recently wrote a brief introduction to the available scholarly editions of the Hebrew Jewish Scriptures (“Old Testament”), the Greek Jewish Scriptures (“Septuagint”), and the Greek New Testament, with most of the emphasis on that post falling on the Hebrew Bible:

Most students of the Hebrew Bible who read Hebrew know of the premier scholarly edition, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS, here on Amazon).  The BHS is now being updated by the BHQ (Q=Quinta), about which you can read more here. Both the BHS and BHQ are “diplomatic” editions of the text, which means that they reproduce a single “best” manuscript, the Leningrad Codex, in their cases. The footer in each page contains a critical apparatus, which lists variant readings from other manuscripts and versions that the editors have deemed to be of importance for getting even closer to the “original” (now often being called the “earliest attainable text”). In some cases, the editors may wish to show where another manuscript or version differs from the Leningrad Codex; the critical apparatus is where they do it.

However, the BHS editors show manuscript and version differences in their critical apparatus through the use of abbreviated Latin. Even those who know Latin will have to learn the abbreviations, and those who don’t know Latin will have an even harder time trying to decipher the apparatus.

Having figured out my way around the print edition of the BHS, and having reviewed Accordance 10, I have been eager to use the BHS module in Accordance. Here I review it.

The Original Languages base package in Accordance comes with HMT-W4, which gives the user access to the Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology 4.16. This text reflects additional and ongoing corrections to the Leningrad Codex. Accordance says HMT-W4 is “almost identical” to the BHS text.

But for the user who wants not just the text but the apparatus, an add-on module is needed. If you already have HMT-W4 or BHS-W4 for your Hebrew Bible in Accordance, you can save money and buy the apparatus by itself. It’s just $50, which is a good deal. (Note: there are no Masora–Masoretic marginalia–included in the module; it’s just the apparatus at the bottom of the page.)  If you have Accordance and don’t already have a Hebrew text, you could buy this package, where BHS-T is the “complete text of the Hebrew Bible, following the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with the Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology 4.14. This module includes vowel pointing, cantillation marks, and lemma and grammatical tagging information for each word in the text.”

In any of these Hebrew texts in Accordance, there is instant parsing easily available as you go through the text.

BHS with apparatus in Accordance significantly streamlines study and use of the critical apparatus. Accordance makes it easy to do textual criticism without carrying the heavy BHS around. I really appreciate being able to access the BHS critical apparatus on my laptop, and in a way that is integrated well into the Accordance program. The layout is good, the feel is intuitive, and the windows are easy to set up. Here’s how I have Accordance set up to use the critical apparatus with the Hebrew text and Old Greek in view (click to enlarge):

There’s the BHS critical apparatus, right under the text. Anything in blue in that window is hyperlinked and will display something in the Instant Details window. If I want to know what “pc Mss” means in the apparatus, I see it unabbreviated in the Instant Details just by mousing over the blue text. (If you don’t need the abbreviations expanded, you can also hover over the superscript letters in the BHS-T text, and the corresponding content from the apparatus pops up.)

Using the layout above you can quickly see what an abbreviation in the apparatus stands for in Latin, but this is not translated into English. In the above example, it’s obvious that “manuscripti” for “Mss” means manuscripts–no Latin knowledge is needed to understand that Latin word. But what is “pauci”? Those with good vocabulary may be able to recall that a paucity of something is a small number, a lack, so “pauci” here means few.

But not all Latin in the apparatus is that easy. I would like to have seen this module provide a translation from Latin into English.  This is probably my only complaint about this module. I believe this is not unique to Accordance and has more to do with how the German Bible Society may have offered the licensing for the apparatus. All the same, getting from abbreviated Latin to unabbreviated Latin, while nice, may not be enough for the beginning text critic.

Some good news, though. There are two workarounds to be able to translate the apparatus contents from Latin to English. First, there is Google Translate, which I understand has improved its accuracy over the last few years. Here is the link for Google Translate from Latin to English. Simply copy Latin from Accordance into the query box in Google translate, and you’ll have your English. “prb l c” in the apparatus becomes, “probabiliter lege(ndum) cum” in Instant Details, which Google gives me as, “probably read with.”

A yet easier way to get to English is possible within Accordance itself, and it’s quite smooth, thanks to the good programming and easy layout of the software. Dr. Hans Peter Rüger’s well-known “English Key to the Latin Words, Abbreviations, and the Symbols of BIBLIA HEBRAICA STUTTGARTENSIA” is available in Accordance.

Note that in the bottom right zone, my far right tab (behind the open one) is this “BHS Latin Key.” I can easy look up an abbreviation in that tab’s search bar. It’s also simple to just right click the abbreviated word in the apparatus and “Look up” in “Dictionary” to quickly access the English/Latin key.

As far as the BHS apparatus itself, BHS remains the scholarly standard. BHQ is beginning to update/replace it, and there are other scholarly projects underway. The BHS apparatus is not exhaustive, nor could it be. But it does offer a good representation of variant readings from different versions (e.g., the Latin Vulgate, the Greek LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targums, etc.) and different manuscripts (whether a specific Old Greek manuscript or just the general “Mss” for “manuscripts”).

There are different editors for different portions of the BHS, and some are less cautious than others in suggesting textual emendations. In the Minor Prophets, for example, editor Karl Elliger seems to have no trouble writing “prp”=”propositum”=”it has been proposed” when he wants to suggest an alternate reading. Sometimes this means that someone else has proposed what Elliger is footnoting; other times it’s just his suggestion, and not always with textual/manuscript evidence accompanying the suggestion. So the user of BHS should not use the critical apparatus, well… uncritically.

An especially neat feature that wowed me is that I can open up the apparatus and search by content to study all 2,146 times the Latin abbreviation “prp” occurs in the BHS apparatus. You can even search the apparatus for its Hebrew and Greek contents. Curious how often ποῦ finds its way into the apparatus? A simple search shows its four occurrences.

And you can search the apparatus by manuscripts mentioned. Change the search bar to “manuscripts,” then right click in the bar and select “Enter Word…” and you get this:

It’s a great way to be able to interact with the apparatus, much of which simply isn’t possible in print.

Bonus: Accordance offers an excellent, succinct explanation of critical editions here, with emphasis on the critical editions available in Accordance. If you’re interested in BHS in Accordance, you’ll want to read it.

If you do text criticism in the Hebrew Bible and have the money to spare, Accordance’s BHS apparatus is well worth getting, though most users will want to make sure they also have the “BHS Latin Key,” too. All in all, it’s a well-executed and seamlessly-integrated module.

Thank you to Accordance for providing me with a copy of the BHS and BHQ modules for review. See all the parts of my Accordance 10 review (including the Beale/Carson commentary module) here. I will review the BHQ separately in the future.

Praising God through Academic Biblical Studies: Less Hypermodernist Objectivism, More Affect!

Why such an emphasis on wanting to get as close to the “original text” of the Bible as possible? Or, as some scholars call it, the “earliest attainable text”?

Earlier this week I wrote a bit about scholarly editions of the Jewish Scriptures, both the Greek and the Hebrew.

But I began asking myself today, why am I so interested in a rigorous scholarly pursuit of the text of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek?

One reason is that I love to learn. On the Strengthsfinder assessment I came out with “Learner” as my top strength both times I took the test. “Achiever” was not far behind. (See here for the descriptions of the 34 strengths themes in that assessment.) Here’s an excerpt from the description of the “Learner” strength that applies to me:

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence.

All true, except that when it comes especially to my pursuit of biblical studies, the process, the content, and the result are “especially exciting” for me.

Why?

The late Arthur Holmes articulates beautifully:

Christ the Truth becomes the dominant motivation in intellectual inquiry. No dichotomy of sacred and secular tasks can be allowed, and no subject is exempt.

The student will therefore welcome truth and submit to it wherever it is found, out of obedience to Christ. Academic work becomes an opportunity to extend the Lordship of Christ over the mind; thought merges into worship.

“Thought merges into worship.” I love this. And I think this is why–more than just being a “Learner”–I so love to delve into the depths of Scripture, in the most “original” form that I possibly can.

I’m not overly fastidious about Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic–as if God really spoke through those languages and then anything else is just mediated and somehow a dilution of God’s actual words. (Isn’t all language already mediation anyway?) If the word of God is “living and active,” it can be living and active in its faithful translations into other languages.

But one reason I geek out so much about the Septuagint and the Hebrew Bible is that in my study I feel myself getting closer to that amazing time when God gave his word to humanity to be transmitted to future generations: first orally, then in written form. And I love seeing how the translators of the Hebrew Bible wrestled with putting the Hebrew into Greek. I love seeing how the New Testament writers grappled with, contextualized, and recontextualized the Old Testament.

I don’t even mind that at the moment I’m a bit perplexed by how Paul could both praise the law as being from God yet also refer to it as a “the ministry that brought death.”

Why?

Because for me, as of late, my thoughts and my studies of Scripture–even at a scholarly level–have begun to “[merge] into worship.” How can I not praise the God behind these amazing words? Though we may never know what the autograph of any part of Scripture actually said, I believe we can get close.

And somehow the closer I get to the text of the Bible–in a scholarly setting–the closer I feel to God.

Not always, of course–sometimes I’m just confused. (Dash the heads of infants against rocks? And we pray these Psalms in liturgical settings???) But there’s been a real richness for me lately in delving into the Bible in its original languages, comparing variant readings across manuscripts and versions, trying to figure out why one Synoptic Gospel said it this way, why this one said it another way…. Even in seeking to answer those questions, I know that I am seeking more of God and God’s revelation.

This is not a taken-for-granted view of things in the field of biblical studies. Take this, for instance, from Michael V. Fox:

In my view, faith-based study has no place in academic scholarship, whether the object of study is the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or Homer. Faith-based study is a different realm of intellectual activity that can dip into Bible scholarship for its own purposes, but cannot contribute to it.

I haven’t contacted Michael V. Fox to confirm this, but I’d wager that what I’m describing above constitutes some sort of “faith-based study,” or at least, study that is informed by and that enriches faith.

But a bit more context from Fox:

The claim of faith-based Bible study to a place at the academic table takes a toll on the entire field of Bible scholarship. The reader or student of Bible scholarship is likely to suspect (or hope) that the author or teacher is moving toward a predetermined conclusion. Those who choose a faith-based approach should realize that they cannot expect the attention of those who don’t share their postulates. The reverse is not true. Scholars who are personally religious constantly draw on work by scholars who do not share their postulates. One of the great achievements of modern Bible scholarship is that it communicates across religious borders so easily that we usually do not know the beliefs of its practitioners.

I’m okay with trying to set aside a “predetermined conclusion,” though skeptical of that possibility. (Does Fox believe in the modernist project?)

Fox goes on, “The best thing for Bible appreciation is secular, academic, religiously-neutral hermeneutic.”

Sigh.

Taking the Psalms as an example, one cannot appreciate the Psalms who does not pray the Psalms. And wouldn’t good scholarship (religiously motivated or not) call for us to engage the text on the author’s terms? How can one do good scholarship on David, for example, if one is not willing to engage the text in the way that David intended for it to be engaged? If he wrote a Psalm for corporate singing or reciting, is the individual in her or his library carrel who seeks to bracket out faith commitments going to get anywhere near to uncovering the meaning and import of that Psalm until she or he sings it with others?

Fox’s whole article is here.

Parker Palmer has a good rejoinder:

Objectivism—which is a complete myth with respect to how real people have ever known anything real—has great political persuasiveness because it gives us the illusion that we are in charge.

But gospel truth, transformational truth, says that we are not masters but are subject to powers larger than ourselves—and that we are blessed with the chance to be co-creators of something good if we are willing to work in harmony with those larger powers.

If we embrace a gospel way of knowing, we can create a different kind of education and perhaps a different world: a world where all of us are called to embody whatever truth we know; where we gather together with others to check, correct, confirm, and deepen whatever insights we may have; where we understand that, even as we seek truth, truth is seeking us; and where there can be those vital transformations, personal and social, that might take us a step closer to the beloved community.

So when it comes to biblical studies, I say: less hypermodernist objectivism, more affect! Let’s allow our thoughts–as Dr. Holmes suggested–to merge into worship; our studies into praise; our reading into praying.

My quest for the earliest attainable text of the Bible, I am realizing, is driven by scholarly interest and a general drive to learn, yes. But more than that, I want to know God more fully through this academic pursuit. My insatiable desire to master Greek noun declensions, Hebrew verb parsings, and intertextual allusions is in the end a desire to be mastered by the God who stands behind the words of Scripture.

But that kind of a posture doesn’t compromise scholarship, in my view. It makes it richer, deeper, and directed toward its most proper end.

N.T. Wright on learning Greek, and a review of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible by Zondervan

I met N.T. Wright briefly in January at a worship symposium and asked him how to improve my Greek. He said, “Read the text, read the text, read the text.”

He told me to really get the feel of the language. Don’t think of Greek just as a code for English; get into the Greek itself. I asked him about reading with a diglot, but he encouraged me to check the English translation only after reading an entire Greek paragraph, and then, only as necessary.

The same holds true with Hebrew. Read the text, read the text, read the text. Reading it out loud is even better, and better still is trying to speak it to others.

Zondervan has published what is to my knowledge the only “reader’s” edition of the Hebrew Bible. It’s a masterpiece. The font is clear, sized perfectly, and easy to read (see at right, and click to enlarge). It uses the Leningrad Codex. It has no textual apparatus (which could be a distraction in a “reader’s edition”), but instead footnotes rarely occurring vocabulary. Not counting proper nouns, editors Philip Brown and Bryan Smith footnote all words that occur less than 100 times in the Hebrew Bible. Here they give “glosses,” which give the reader the basic meaning of the word. Aramaic words that occur less than 25 times are listed in the footnotes in the page on which they occur.

For readers who blank on a word that occurs, say, 150 times in the Hebrew Bible, a glossary at the back will allow them to look up even additional words.

Brown used HALOT and BDB to write the glosses. The bottom of the page looks like this (click for larger):

Note in #s 2, 7, and 8 that there is also listed what the verb stem is for a given use. What makes this feature especially easy to use is the bolding of the words before their glosses.

The only thing to critique in the Hebrew reader’s edition is that proper nouns, which are to appear in grey font since they’re not footnoted, occasionally go missed. Brown has posted an errata list here, many of which have been fixed in recent printings.

For a preview of the Hebrew reader’s edition, see here (PDF) and here (PDF).

Zondervan’s Greek reader’s New Testament has not met with such universal acclaim. It’s a good resource to have on hand, to be sure, but in my view it’s not as well executed as the Hebrew reader’s Bible.

Rather than being based on the scholarly editions of the NA27 or UBS4, the text is “the eclectic text that underpins the Today’s New International Version.” The scholars who produced the TNIV, in other words, made different textual decisions in some instances than did the editors of the “Standard Text” of the NA27/UBS4. Where this is the case, a limited textual apparatus notes it. While this could be problematic for textual criticism, the text is not vastly different from the standard one, and is certainly fine for reading.

As with the Hebrew reader’s edition, the Greek reader’s Bible footnotes and explains words that occur less than 30 times in the Greek New Testament. One unfortunate decision is that, unlike the Hebrew, the Greek footnotes do not have the glossed word in bold. This makes navigating the footnotes more cumbersome:

Font is perhaps a personal preference. While Philip Brown did a magnificent job of typesetting the Hebrew, the Greek font leaves something to be desired. It’s not the easiest Greek font I’ve read. It’s not unreadable as fonts go, but it’s thin. I got used to it after a while, so it’s not unmanageable, but the font in the UBS Greek Reader’s New Testament is easier to read. The latter also puts the footnoted glosses into two columns, which makes referencing them quicker.

Not long ago Zondervan combined the Hebrew and the Greek into one mammoth, leather-bound Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. The volume is large (but how could it not be?) and impressive. It’s constructed well. The binding is sewn (rejoice!), so it will last for a while.

This combination carries with it the great advantage that its user has both the Hebrew and the Greek Bibles under one cover. Now I just have to carry one geeky Bible to church rather than two! Huge benefit.

Another nice thing about this edition is that with Hebrew going from right to left and Greek from left to right, the Greek New Testament starts at the “front” and the Hebrew Bible starts at the “back,” just as both would be in their separate volumes.

The introduction to each half explains well how the text is laid out, the footnoting of the vocabulary, and so on. All the glory of Brown’s Hebrew edition is there, and the less-than-ideal Greek font is there in the Greek portion. One thing to add in appreciation of the Greek part, however, is that Old Testament quotations appear in bold, with their references listed at the bottom of the page. The eight pages of color maps between the two sections are a nice bonus, too.

The construction of the two Bibles combined is executed quite well. I’m happy to only have to take one original language Bible with me to church now.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible. They provided me with one in the hopes of my reviewing it on my blog, but with no expectation as to the content of the review. Find Zondervan’s product page here.

BHS, the Göttingen Septuagint, and other critical editions: a basic orientation to what they are

Image source: http://www.usc.edu/ (click on image for more details)

Most students of the Hebrew Bible who read Hebrew know of the premier scholarly edition, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS, here on Amazon).  The BHS is now being updated by the BHQ (Q=Quinta), about which you can read more here. Both the BHS and BHQ are “diplomatic” editions of the text, which means that they reproduce a single “best” manuscript, the Leningrad Codex, in their cases. The footer in each page contains a critical apparatus, which lists variant readings from other manuscripts and versions that the editors have deemed to be of importance for getting even closer to the “original” (now often being called the “earliest attainable text”). In some cases, the editors may wish to show where another manuscript or version differs from the Leningrad Codex; the critical apparatus is where they do it.

There are two other similar projects underway for the Hebrew Bible. One is the Hebrew University Bible Project, also a diplomatic edition, but unlike BHS and BHQ, based on the Aleppo Codex. The HUB includes a more extensive critical apparatus than BHS, so that readers can see more textual variants.

The other scholarly edition of the Hebrew Bible is the Oxford Hebrew Bible Project, “a new critical edition of the Hebrew Bible featuring a critical text and extensive text-critical introduction and commentary.” Though the BHQ contains commentary, too, the OHB differs in being an “eclectic” text, meaning that, as R.S. Hendel says (quoted in Tov),

The practical goal for the OHB is to approximate in its critical text the textual “archetype,” by which I mean the earliest inferable textual state.

Though the textual apparatuses of the BHS/BHQ and HUB can theoretically aid the reader in approximating the textual “archetype,” the text of the OHB offers that approximation rather than reproducing an actual manuscript (as the diplomatic editions do). Hence, the OHB is an “eclectic” edition. (So, too, are the two major scholarly editions of the Greek New Testament, the NA27 and UBS4.)

The Septuagint–the Greek translation of these Jewish Scriptures–has various scholarly editions, too.

On its Website the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) has a great primer on the various editions of the Septuagint. Below, “OG” stands for “Old Greek.” They write:

The creation and propagation of a critical text of the LXX/OG has been a basic concern in modern scholarship. The two great text editions begun in the early 20th century are the Cambridge Septuagint and the Göttingen Septuagint, each with a “minor edition” (editio minor) and a “major edition” (editio maior). For Cambridge this means respectively H. B. Swete, The Old Testament in Greek (1909-1922) and the so-called “Larger Cambridge Septuagint” by A. E. Brooke, N. McLean, (and H. St. John Thackeray) (1906-). For Göttingen it denotes respectively Alfred Rahlfs’s Handausgabe (1935) and the “Larger Göttingen Septuagint” (1931-). Though Rahlfs (editio minor) can be called a semi-critical edition, the Göttingen Septuaginta (editio maior) presents a fully critical text, as described below.

Beginning Septuagint students are likely to own just “Rahlfs” (the Handausgabe mentioned above). But those who want to do more detailed text work with the Septuagint want more than the mini-apparatus in that edition.

Between Accordance (here) and Logos (here), nearly everything listed in the above quotation is available in electronic form. Accordance has Rahlfs’s Apparatus, parts of the larger Göttingen edition, and both the smaller (Swete) and most of what is currently available in the larger Cambridge Septuagint. Logos has all the volumes of Göttingen that have been completed to date.

There is more here about the scholarly versions of the Septuagint, including a volume-by-volume listing of both the Cambridge and Göttingen projects.

I have been fortunate to receive a review copy of BHS and BHQ Hebrew Bible editions from Accordance, as well as the existing volumes of the Göttingen Septuagint from Logos. I’ll be reviewing each in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: My review of BHS in Accordance is here. My BHQ review is here. Part 1 of a short primer on using the Göttingen Septuagint is here.

Logos 4: a quick note about a portable library

Ah, the age-old debate about how one should build a library: print or digital?

Okay, it’s not really that old of a debate. But it’s one I’ve gone back and forth on. I own the major lexicon for the Greek New Testament in digital edition. Same thing with the major lexicon for the Hebrew Bible. (They’re both huge.) But I went a bit overboard with the LEH lexicon for the Septuagint: I have it in print, in Logos, in Accordance, and in BibleWorks! (I only had to pay for the print edition, though.)

I’m taking a great class on the use of the Old Testament in the New. Most of the texts we use for the class list multiple biblical references, but don’t write out the verses. Take this example from Richard N. Longenecker’s Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period:

V. Quotations occurring in John alone, with introductory formulae:

35. John 6:45 (Isa 54:13; Jer 31:33).
36. John 7:38 (Isa 12:3; 43:19–20; 44:3; 58:11).
37. John 10:34 (Ps 82:6 [LXX = 81:6]).
38. John 13:18 (Ps 41:9 [MT = 41:10; LXX = 40:10]).
39. John 15:25 (Ps 35:19 [LXX = 34:19]; 69:4 [MT = 69:5; LXX = 68:5]).

That’s a lot to look up! Especially flipping back and forth between Hebrew, Greek, and English versions.

In the Logos 4 edition of the book, however, all those texts are hyperlinked, so that I simply have to mouse over them to have a pop-up window display the verses in my preferred version. This is a great time saver, and I much prefer to read a book like this with such an easy way to look at the verses it’s referencing. I can also set up my windows and tabs in Logos to have multiple Bibles/versions open, too, while I read through a book.

I know print is better on my eyes than a screen is, so there’s still that. But the hyperlinking system in Logos makes buying books from them a desirable option–and they have a wide selection.

I also know that my bookshelves at home are beyond full, so my wife will likely appreciate digital additions to my library rather than more books in the living room….

This is a bit of an excursus in my Logos 4 review, though I purchased the Logos edition of the book above. See part 1 of my Logos 4 review here, part 2 here, part 3 here, and part 4 here.