Coming Soon(ish): Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint


From publisher Mohr Siebeck:

Edited by Eberhard Bons and Jan Joosten (Université de Strasbourg)

This large-scale collective and interdisciplinary project aims to produce a new research tool: a multi-volume dictionary providing an article of between two and ten pages (around 600 articles in all) for each important word or word group of the Septuagint. Filling an important gap in the fields of ancient philology and religious studies, the dictionary will be based on original research of the highest scientific level.

This project has benefitted from funding from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (French Research National Agency), the Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme – Alsace (Strasbourg), the Melanchthon-Stiftung (Tübingen), and the Armin Schmitt Stiftung (Regensburg).

The first volume is projected to be published in 2018.

You can check out a lengthy PDF sample here, with a “Wordlist of the First Volume,” as well as some sample articles.

Göttingen Septuagint (Genesis): Lexus of the LXX


The Wire Season 4


Man say if you wanna shoot nails, this here the Cadillac, man.
He mean Lexus, but he ain’t know it.

–Snoop to Chris, Season 4, Episode 1, The Wire


Having recently re-watched the fourth season of the best television show in history, I need now to amend my assessment two years ago that the Göttingen Septuagint is the Cadillac of Septuagint editions. It’s the Lexus of the LXX.


The Göttingen Septuagint


Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen, Germany publishes the Göttingen Septuagint, more formally known as Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum.

The series of critical texts with apparatus spans more than 20 volumes and covers some 40 biblical books (counting the minor prophets as 12), with more continuing to appear.

But, as I remarked two years ago when I confused Cadillacs and Lexuses, 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 of the edition and its critical apparatuses.


The Contributions of John William Wevers


Enter John William Wevers. If Göttingen is the Lexus of LXX editions, Wevers is its chief mechanic. His Notes on the Greek texts of the Pentateuch–though provisional in nature, Wevers intimated–remain some of the best resources for carefully studying the Septuagint. And his Text Histories on those same books (now free online, thanks to the Göttingen Septuaginta-Unternehmen) guide the reader through the transmission of the Greek text in its various manuscripts.

Better yet, before his passing Wevers translated much of his own Göttingen-Pentateuch introductions from German into English. That enduring gift can be found here.





Published in 1974, Wevers’s Genesis includes a 70+-page introduction, Wevers’s reconstructed Greek text of Genesis, and two critical apparatuses at the bottom of each page that highlight readings from various manuscripts.

The introduction includes these sections:

  1. The Textual Witnesses (Greek and other versions)
  2. The Text History (“Here only information necessary for the use of this edition is given”)
  3. Re: This Edition
  4. Signs and Abbreviations

A challenge to using the Genesis volume is the scarcity of material available about the Göttingen project in general. Further, the introduction is in German and the critical apparatuses contain Greek, abbreviated Greek, and abbreviated Latin. A few things come in handy:

  • Wevers’s Genesis introduction is here in English.
  • As for deciphering the apparatus and abbreviations, Wevers offers such a key in the introduction, and the print edition comes with a handy insert (in German and Latin, but not unusable to those without command of those languages)
  • Miles Van Pelt has made available his own two-page summary of sigla and abbreviations (here as PDF).
  • Seeing the need, I wrote a two-part primer (here and here, two of my most-visited posts on this blog) to reading and understanding the Göttingen Septuagint–the focus was largely on Genesis, and I draw on those posts for what follows

So equipped, the reader (whether she or he knows German or not) is ready to work through the Greek text itself.


Tour of a Page


Instead of using a text based on an actual manuscript (as BHS, based on the Leningrad Codex, does), the Göttingen Septuagint utilizes a reconstructed text based on a thorough examination of evidence from manuscripts and translations.

Because it is an editio maior and not an editio minor like Rahlfs, any 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 (image used by permission).

Note the #s 1-4 that I’ve added to highlight the different parts of a page.


Page reproduction by permission of publisher (annotations are mine)


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.

Regarding the critical text itself, Wevers writes in the Genesis introduction:

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.


2. The Source List (“Kopfleiste”)


The Kopfleiste comes just below the text and above the apparatuses in Genesis. 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.


3. and 4. Critical Apparatuses (“Apparat I” and “Apparat II”)

The critical apparatuses are where 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 first critical apparatus will be familiar in its aims to readers of BHS. Regarding the second apparatus, Wevers writes:

In view of the fact that the materials presented in the second apparatus [are] not at least in theory a collection of variants within the LXX tradition, but rather one such of readings from other traditions, especially from the “three”, which have influenced the LXX tradition, these readings are given in full.

“The three,” sometimes referred to in Greek as οι γ’, are the texts of Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion.

In other words–there is virtually no stone unturned here in the quest to reconstruct a Greek text of Genesis.


Concluding Evaluation


Serious work in Septuagint studies uses the Göttingen text, where available, as a base. Wevers’s scholarship and care for the text is clear as one makes her or his way through the Genesis volume. It’s the starting place for studying the Greek text of Genesis.

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht’s production of the book is stellar, too. It’s got a sewn binding and is beautifully constructed–built to last and look good on the shelf, or in your hands:


Goettingen Genesis


You can find the volume here at V & R’s site, and here at Amazon. ISD distributes the book, as well, and carries it here.


Many thanks to V & R for the review copy of this fine work, given to me with no expectation as to the content of my review. Find more V & R blog posts here.

The Bible’s Other* Hymnal

Psalms with OdesMany Greek Septuagint manuscripts do not contain them, but the Odes are a fascinating collection of texts appended to the end of the Greek Psalter in Codex Alexandrinus and a few other manuscripts.

The Odes compile some beautiful prayers from Scripture. A few of them are in the Book of Common Prayer’s Morning Prayer canticles.

Good information on the Odes is hard to come by, though. In part this is because they are generally not accorded the same status as, say, the Psalms. The NETS introduction to the Psalms, for instance, has:

One “book” not included in NETS, however, is Odes since it has dubious integrity as a literary unit, and, in any case, almost all of the individual Septuagint odes have already been included in their native setting in other books. The sole exception is Ode 12 in Rahlfs’ edition, the Prayer of Manasses, which for that reason has been separately appended to the Psalter.

I’ve just discovered, however, that David Lincicum has a nice rundown of the Odes, their numbering, and their contents. He also includes a bibliography for further reading. Check it out here.


*HT to a member of the Yahoo! LXX email group for the idea of the Odes as a sort of “little hymnal.”

Greek Isaiah in a Year: Rest of Readings in Facebook

Ottley Isaiah cover

From here on out, I’ll post the readings (each day) for Greek Isaiah in a Year in its Facebook group. We are up to chapter 60, and almost done.

The text will be, as usual, from R.R. Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint (pictured above). Ottley is here in Logos (reviewed here) and here as a free, downloadable pdf in the public domain. The full reading plan for our group is here (pdf).

See here for more resources and links to texts for Greek Isaiah.

Greek Isaiah in a Year, Weeks 45 and 46 (Isaiah 55:7-Isaiah 58:9)


We are getting close to the end of Greek Isaiah in a Year. This week and next week cover Isaiah 55:7-Isaiah 58:9.

Below is the text from R.R. Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint. Ottley is also here in Logos (reviewed here) and here as a free, downloadable pdf in the public domain. The full reading plan for our group is here (pdf).

See here for more resources and links to texts for Greek Isaiah.

Continue reading “Greek Isaiah in a Year, Weeks 45 and 46 (Isaiah 55:7-Isaiah 58:9)”

Greek Isaiah in a Year, Weeks 43 and 44 (Isaiah 52:1-Isaiah 55:6)

Prophet Isaiah

This past week and next week in Greek Isaiah in a Year cover Isaiah 52:1-Isaiah 55:6.

Below is the text from R.R. Ottley’s Book of Isaiah According to the Septuagint. Ottley is also here in Logos (reviewed here) and here as a free, downloadable pdf in the public domain. The full reading plan for our group is here (pdf).

See here for more resources and links to texts for Greek Isaiah.

Continue reading “Greek Isaiah in a Year, Weeks 43 and 44 (Isaiah 52:1-Isaiah 55:6)”