How to Read and Understand the Göttingen Septuagint: A Short Primer, part 2 (Apparatus)

The one who is serious about getting at the earliest attainable text of the Hebrew Bible will eventually find herself or himself face-to-face with a page like this:

Genesis 1 in Göttingen LXX
Genesis 1 in the Göttingen Septuagint

The Göttingen Septuagint is the largest scholarly edition of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Its full title is Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen, 

Septuaginta.band 1

Germany publishes the series, which includes more than 20 volumes covering some 40 biblical books (counting the minor prophets as 12). Various editors are working toward the publication of additional volumes.

But if good coffee, fine wine, or well-aged cheese requires work on the part of the one taking it in, the Göttingen LXX makes its own demands of the reader who would use it. The critical apparatuses on each page have Greek, abbreviated Greek, abbreviated Latin, and other potentially unfamiliar sigla. The introductions in each volume are in German.

How to read and understand the Göttingen Septuagint, then? To begin, here is the sample page from above:

Genesis 1 in Göttingen LXX_key
Genesis 1:4-9, reprinted with publisher’s permission

There are four main parts to the page, marked in the image above by the numbers 1 through 4.

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

In part 1 of my primer, I covered numbers 1 and 2 above. To summarize a bit:

1. 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.

2. 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.

Next are the two critical apparatuses. In his introduction to Genesis (conveniently translated into English here, from which I quote), editor John William Wevers speaks of the critically reconstructed text as an “approximation of the original” and “hopefully the best which could be reconstructed.” I previously noted:

[Göttingen] 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.)

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) notes (from here):

The Göttingen Septuagint features two apparatuses (as does the Larger Cambridge Septuagint), the first for LXX/OG textual evidence proper and the second for so-called hexaplaric evidence, i.e. “rival” translations/revisions of the translated LXX/OG (such as circulated under the labels “Theodotion,” “Aquila,” and “Symmachus”), preserved largely through the influence of Origen’s Hexapla. For LXX/OG research the importance of both apparatuses is second only to the critical text itself.

The challenge, of course, is that to make sense of the apparatuses and their abbreviations.

3. The First Critical Apparatus (“Apparat I”)

The “textual evidence proper” consists of any readings that the editor deems as variant to the reconstructed text. The editors follow a consistent order in the witnesses they cite. (There is minor variation, volume to volume.) In Genesis Wevers writes:

The witnesses for a variant are always arranged in a set order: a) the uncial texts in alphabetic order; b) the papyri in numerical order; c) the witnesses of the O‘ mss [AKJ: the “hexaplaric group”]; d) the witnesses of the C‘’ mss [AKJ: the “Catena group”]; e) the remaining text families (comp Section B I above) in alphabetical order; f) the rest of the Greek evidence in the following order: N.T. witnesses, Ios [AKJ: Josephus], Phil [AKJ: Philo], followed by the rest of the Greek writers in alpha­betic order; g) La (or the sub-groups, for ex. LaI Las, etc.) [AKJ: Old Latin versions], followed by the other versions in alphabetic order; h) citations of the Latin Fathers, introduced by the sign Lat (these witnesses always stand in opposition to La or a sub-group of La); i) other witnesses or commentaries.

To look at an example of the first critical apparatus, Deuteronomy 6:5 in the Göttingen edition reads:

καὶ ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς δυνάμεώς σου.

(And you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your strength.)

The apparatus for that verse, in part, has:

om καί  Arab Sa17 | αγαπησης 30; αγαπη σε 527 | κύριον τόν] bis scr 120* | om σου  Tht Dtap | ἐξ 1°—διανοίας] εν ολη τη καρδια Matth 22:37 |

With each unit broken up by line here, the apparatus gives this information about its manuscripts:

  • Arab and Sa17 omit (om) the first () use of καί
  • 30 has αγαπησης; 527 has αγαπη σε
  • 120* has κύριον τόν written (scr) twice (bis)
  • Tht Dtap omits (om) the first () use of σου
  • From the first use () of ἐξ through () the word διανοίας, Matthew 22:37 has rather (]) εν ολη τη καρδια

One has to go to the introduction for information about the manuscripts “Arab” (Arabic version), ” Sa17” (from the Sahidic version), “30” and “527” (minuscule manuscripts), “120*” (also a minuscule manuscript, where the asterisk * refers to “the original reading of a ms,” as opposed to a “correction”), and “Tht Dtap” (Tht=Theodoretus (“Cyrensis=Cyrrhensis”); Dt=his Quaestiones in Deuteronomium; ap refers, Wevers notes, “to readings (variants) in the apparatus of editions”).

Miles Van Pelt has produced a concise two-page summary of sigla and abbreviations. I offer appreciation and gratitude to Miles that I can link to that pdf here. That offers further instruction as to deciphering the apparatuses (both the first and second) in the Göttingen volumes. The introductions to given volumes contain the signs/symbols and abbreviations (“Zeichen und Abkürzungen”), as well.

Boromir had it right:

One Does Not Simply One Does not SimplyOne Does Not Simply

So I’ll write about the Second Critical Apparatus (“Apparat II”) in a future post. Until then….

Thanks to Brian Davidson of LXXI for his helpful suggestions on an earlier draft of this post and the part 1 that preceded it. He is not to be blamed for the inclusion of Boromir in this post.

Review of Beale’s Handbook at The Blog of the Twelve

I’ve just recently learned about The Blog of the Twelve. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s recommended reading, especially for folks with an interest in the Minor Prophets.

There is a good book review from that blog of G.K. Beale’s Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. (That book was a text for one of my classes this semester.) An excerpt:

The usefulness of this book can hardly be stated for those seeking to rightly handle the Scripture, whether student, pastor, or laity. Beale’s clear writing style, in addition to the uncharacteristic conciseness of the book, makes the method accessible to a wide audience. Furthermore, Beale, while emphasizing the indispensable value of learning the biblical languages, formats the book in such a way that those not familiar with Hebrew and Greek are able to profit just as well from the work.

Read the whole thing here.

Christian Apologetics winner

We have a winner in the giveaway contest at Words on the Word for Zondervan’s primary source compendium, Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources, edited by Khaldoun A. Sweis and Chad V. Meister.

I have weathered the storm, several flickers of the power on and off, and have selected the winner at random. (Actually, a random number generator is to thank/blame.)

And the winner is… Matthew Hamrick! Congratulations, Matthew, and enjoy the book. Thank you to everyone who participated and spread the word.

I reviewed the book here if you’d like to learn more.

Almost every Monday at Words on the Word (and other days, too) I review new books in the field of biblical studies, original languages, and theology. I also review Bible software. Check or bookmark this link to see all my reviews.

Christian Apologetics: free book giveaway

One good giveaway deserves another.

The other day I noted that Zondervan has just put out a primary source compendium called Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources, edited by Khaldoun A. Sweis and Chad V. Meister.

I have an extra copy to give away (not my review copy). It’s a good resource to have on the shelf, and I know I’ll be turning to it in the future for the work and ministry I do in a college setting.

I reviewed the book here.

I will choose a winner at random. To enter the drawing, simply comment on this blog post with your greetings, thoughts about apologetics, favorite philosopher/theologian, etc. I will accept entries through Monday afternoon, with 3pm EST being the cutoff.

Then if you link to this post on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc., come back here to tell me in the comments section that you did, and you’ll receive a second entry. I will announce the winner just before 5pm EST Monday.

Christian Apologetics: a review

I still remember, as a 16-year-old, sitting down at my parents’ computer, hearing the dial tone, and logging on to AOL. I would do this often, not just to check the new technological miracle known as e-mail, but also to go into chat rooms (remember those?) and seek to share my faith with others online.

I made similar efforts at my high school, starting conversations when appropriate and generally just trying to be ready to speak intelligently and compellingly about my Christian faith.

This handbook by Peter Kreeft was a constant reference guide for me. I went on to major in philosophy at a Christian undergraduate school, where I took, among others, classes on the philosophy of religion, St. Augustine, and more. Readings in the Philosophy of Religion became a new resource to which I often turned. I had begun having philosophical and existential questions of my own by that point, ones that I experienced on a profound and at times troubling level.

I’ve always had an interest in the intellectual underpinnings of my Christian faith. And I’ve often been aware that what appear to be intellectual questions or questions of “the head,” are sometimes–when one digs deeper–questions of “the heart,” as well. Since college days, then, I’ve been a bit more cautious than I was as a 16-year-old in an AOL chat room about just how effective “apologetics” can be.

Zondervan has just put out a primary source compendium called Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources, edited by Khaldoun A. Sweis and Chad V. Meister.

There are 54 selections divided into 11 parts, which you can see listed here (PDF) in the table of contents. Christian Apologetics begins with some methodological considerations in part 1, then moves right into various arguments for the existence of God–cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral, the argument from religious experience, and so on. From there the book narrows to more specific topics like the Trinity, the incarnation, miracles, the resurrection, the problem of evil, and more.

Christian Apologetics claims to be “a sampling of some of the best works written by Christian apologists throughout the centuries,” offering “a snapshot of Christian apologetics at its best across the spectrum of time and culture.”

The essays in this volume certainly are some of the best in apologetics. There is Paul at the Areopagus in Acts 17, Aquinas on the cosmological argument for God’s existence, Anselm and Plantinga with the ontological argument for God, Pascal’s wager, Teresa of Avila on experiencing God, Anselm on the incarnation, Swinburne on miracles, John Hick’s “Soul Making Theodicy,” Augustine on free will, and Marilyn McCord Adams on horrendous evil and the goodness of God. Each of these essays is a classic and makes a valuable contribution to the area of apologetics.

The book spans “the spectrum of time” fairly well, with a higher concentration of 20th century writers. Just a couple of the contributors are women, and the overwhelming majority hail from Western contexts–this latter an admission of the book, but a weakness all the same.

A particularly pleasant surprise to me was the inclusion of an an article by R.T. France, in which he makes the case for the historical reliability of the Gospels, which must, he argues, be understood in their proper literary context as “highly selective” records of Jesus’ life with “only a loose chronological framework.” This is not due to deficiency of the Gospels; rather, it is how the Gospel writers intended to write:

The four canonical gospels will not answer all the questions we would like to ask about the founder of Christianity; but, sensitively interpreted, they do give us a rounded portrait of a Jesus who is sufficiently integrated into what we know of first-century Jewish culture to carry historical conviction, but at the same time sufficiently remarkable and distinctive to account for the growth of a new and potentially world-wide religious movement out of his life and teaching.

As I read I appreciated a statement in the book’s general introduction:

But arguments and evidences do not of themselves bring someone into new life in Christ. Here the work of the Holy Spirit is central, and we must be willing to surrender to his leading and his truth and his goodness if we are to truly dwell with the Lord.

I hadn’t yet learned this in the AOL chat rooms, but I’ve long since been convinced of it. So I had hoped to hear more in this book about the role of the Holy Spirit in apologetics. There is a short (one paragraph) treatment by James K. Beilby in chapter 3 that asks, “What is the role of the Holy Spirit in apologetics?” He rightly (in my view) sees it as “not a zero-sum game.” The apologist should be “significantly involved” yet “still hold that the Holy Spirit will determine the effectiveness of our efforts.”

Though the Holy Spirit receives treatment in the section on the Trinity (by Origen, Aquinas, the Creeds, and Thomas V. Morris) and on the Bible (Calvin and canonization), there is never more than Beilby’s paragraph treatment about the role of the Holy Spirit in the project of apologetics. Cogent though Beilby is, I would think “a snapshot of Christian apologetics at its best” should make more mention of something like the Wesleyan view of prevenient grace or even the notion that the Holy Spirit witnesses to a person’s heart before an apologist does. Only the former can enable the latter. Christian Apologetics is not without the exploration of other methodological considerations; I just would have liked to have seen more of this one.

Several other possible areas for improvement in a future edition could be more on faith and reason and how the two interrelate, as well as arguments for the existence of God that take into account and respond to the varous assertions made by the “new atheism” (anemic though it is).

All in all, though, this is a strong work, and I’m happy for it to sit alongside my old college text, Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Zondervan’s Christian Apologetics is a worthy, if basic, reference guide. I expect it will serve apologists well.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy, which I was given for the purposes of review, though without any expectations as to the nature of my review. Find the book at Amazon here (affiliate link) or at Zondervan’s product page for the book.

Paul and the Old Testament

There are over 100 explicit quotations of Scripture in Paul’s letters and at least double that number of allusions. However, what is potentially more useful than just citing Paul’s answers to first-century questions is to study how Paul interpreted Scripture, and that is the theme of this book. (1)

This summer I reviewed the third volume of a de facto trilogy by Steve Moyise. In that same series is Paul and Scripture: Studying the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (click on book cover image to see at Amazon). In 160 packed pages Moyise surveys Paul’s use of the Hebrew Bible/Septuagint.

Moyise’s approach is a thematic one, rather than book-by-book. This helps the reader focus on how Paul treated the same topic across his various letters.

The author begins with an introduction to Paul, his “conversion” experience, his missionary activity, and a wonderful problematizing of the issue: because Paul was familiar with Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic versions of Scripture, “[W]hen Paul introduces a phrase or sentence with an introductory formula (IF) such as ‘it is written’, we have to ask ourselves which version of the Scriptures he has in mind” (10). For Paul “would not have had our concept of ‘Bible’, a bound volume of 66 books (for Protestants) residing on his bookshelf” (10).

Moyise keeps his and the reader’s eye on this issue throughout Paul and Scripture. He explores how Paul used:

  • “The figure of Adam” and creation accounts (with Christ as a Second Adam)
  • The story of Abraham, including a brief but helpful look at “Abraham in Jewish tradition”
  • Moses–“an ambiguous figure for Paul. He speaks to God face to face, but his use of a veil is interpreted as a lack of openness” (59)
  • The law. This was perhaps the most interesting section of the book, as Moyise surveyed not only Paul’s use of Scripture, but how modern theologians have tried to make sense of what looks on first glance like conflicting statements about the law. This section is what led me to write:

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.”

  • The prophets–both to develop a theology of Israel and the Gentiles, and to provide instructions for how the Christian community should live
  • The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job

The final chapter is a more detailed survey dealing with “modern approaches to Paul’s use of Scripture,” which Moyise divides into “an intertextual approach,” “a narrative approach,” and “a rhetorical approach” (111 ff.).

Appendices include a focus on Paul’s quotations from Isaiah, an index of Paul’s quotations of Scripture, and pertinent excerpts from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

As with The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture, the book is accessible to a non-scholar or non-specialist in this field, though it will require some work. Due to the book’s brevity, and what I assume was Moyise’s desire to still cover all the proper territory, the book is dense. This means that even a short volume like this will be a great reference to me for some time, as I seek to better understand the ways in which Paul used the Old Testament, and the ways in which Christians have tried to make sense of that use for some 2,000 years, especially recently.

The gray shaded boxes throughout explain key concepts such as the Septuagint, Origen’s Hexapla, Greek grammar, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and so on. As with Moyise’s other book, one does not need to know Greek or Hebrew to read Paul and Scripture, but he does not hesitate to use transliterated Greek to aid his explanation.

I have begun to appreciate Moyise’s even-handedness in presenting various viewpoints and interpretations. Even when discussing potentially controversial aspects of Paul (which books Paul authored, the “New Perspective,” or the idea of some that Paul actually exhibited “contradictory” and inconsistent views of the law), Moyise is fair and presents the various views in a way that the reader is left to consider them for herself or himself. (And the reader knows where to go to find more.)

One thing that seems rare in a work like this is that Moyise generally writes out a Scripture he is citing, rather than just placing a slew of references in parentheses for the reader to slowly work through. This latter method is not all bad, but Moyise’s quotation or summation of the references he cites makes for a smooth read.

I found helpful Moyise’s employment of “an eclectic view, using whatever methods or approaches were helpful for understanding the particular quotation” (111). Moyise doesn’t conclusively answer all the questions that arise when studying Paul’s use of Scripture, nor does he seek to. He hopes “that this book has both laid a foundation and stimulated an interest to go on and read further” (125), a mission he very much has accomplished (at least in this reader) with Paul and Scripture.

Thank you to Baker Academic for providing me with a review copy of the book. See its product page at Baker here.