My wife taught the word to me. And then I saw it in a super-nerdy, super-awesome Bible software forum I frequent. The word is…
That’s right. Grok. It will be 2016’s Word of the Year, I predict… or if the world isn’t ready, 2017, for sure.
Here’s how I saw it in the Accordance forums:
Working with the Help system and especially the Training components, I was able to make sense of the approach Accordance takes. In my two previous rounds with the Demo in 2014 and early 2015, I just did not grok the system. Bottom line: Time with the Demo and the training tools and the December discounts enabled me to build a package that nicely does what I have always wanted Bible software to do….
(I commended this user for such a fluid use of the word.)
Oxford defines it thus:
Understand (something) intuitively or by empathy:because of all the commercials, children grok things immediately
My 15 seconds of Google research for this blog post (just kidding, it was three minutes) tells me that the word comes from an early 1960s sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein, called Stranger in a Strange Land.
Much as I am grateful to be able to see the text of the Bible in multiple languages at one time on a computer, sometimes you just want to curl up with a good, printed edition of a 6-language polyglot.
Fredrick J. Long and T. Michael W. Halcomb have begun such a series, with the recent publishing of Matthew and Mark in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, English, German, and French. It’s obvious that an English-speaking Bible reader would want access to biblical texts in Greek and Hebrew and Latin. German and French, as major research languages for biblical and theological studies, complete the languages of this almost-500-page polyglot.
It’s a pretty sweet work, and an awesome way to practice multiple languages at once. Here’s what it looks like:
The layout of the polyglot is clean and easy to follow. It would not be all that difficult to read through all of Matthew and/or Mark in a single language, if one so desired. The fonts are quite legible, although the Hebrew font for Mark differs from the Hebrew font for Matthew. (Also, the vowels are not properly centered under the Hebrew consonants in Mark. This doesn’t make reading it impossible, but I found it distracting.)
There is no critical apparatus, but this is no problem–Long and Halcomb intend simply to provide multiple texts for reading. (Text-critical notes on six languages would make this volume unwieldy, indeed!) The versions used are largely ones in the public domain. The Greek text, for example, is the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine edition. I have a Greek reader’s Bible I used to use with this same edition. At first I worried that I wasn’t using the academic version of the NA28, but after using that reader’s Bible for a few weeks, I realized it really didn’t matter, if the goal was just to get better at reading Greek. So, too, here: not having the NA28 text included is no loss.
The English translation in Matthew is an authors’ revision of the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV). In Mark the authors use their own translation. They aim to be “fairly literal” in translating the Greek, I’ve never really agreed with such translations’ taking the Greek’s historical present, for example, and keeping it in the present tense in English.
For example, Mark 10:35 begins, “And they come near to him…,” which follows a Greek present participle, but then the two verses later in English has “they said to them” (my emphasis). Though this translates a Greek aorist in the expected way, I would have smoothed out the tenses for the purposes of readability in English translation–even while seeking to be close to the Greek text. Even somewhat literal translations of Greek ought to put its historical present into English past tense, in my opinion. But this perhaps just amounts to a difference in translation philosophy. And a benefit of the authors’ translating Mark this way is you can easily tell, if your Greek parsing is rusty, which Greek verbs are present and which are aorist, since Greek historical present is rendered as present in English.
Those concerns aside, this modern-day “Hexapla” is hard to beat as a way of learning (and keeping active) multiple languages at once. A resource like this would be essential for someone preparing for a Ph.D. program in biblical studies or theology. Pastors, such as yours truly, who want to keep their Greek and Hebrew alive can do so with just this single book.
GlossaHouse offers a wide selection of creative resources for language learning and retention. Check out their site here to see the Hexapla and more.
Thanks to the good folks at GlossaHouse for the review copy! Find it here on Amazon.
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:
The Textual Witnesses (Greek and other versions)
The Text History (“Here only information necessary for the use of this edition is given”)
Re: This Edition
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Fall 2014 UPDATE: The UBS5 is out. Go here for a chance to win one of two free copies.
On the heels of the release of the NA28 Greek New Testament, the UBS4 is giving way to a revised UBS5. Find the book’s product page here. Just as I reviewed the NA28 (plus LXX), I hope to post more in the future about the UBS5 edition, which is geared more toward translators than academics, per se.
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:
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,
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:
There are four main parts to the page, marked in the image above by the numbers 1 through 4.
The reconstructed Greek critical text (“Der kritische Text”)
The Source List (“Kopfleiste”) (note: not every Göttingen volume has this)
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.
(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 1° Arab Sa17 | αγαπησης 30; αγαπη σε 527 | κύριον τόν] bisscr 120* | om σου 1° 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 (1°) use of καί
30 has αγαπησης; 527 has αγαπη σε
120* has κύριον τόν written (scr) twice (bis)
Tht Dtap omits (om) the first (1°) use of σου
From the first use (1°) 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:
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.
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.
With the generous lead support of the Leon Levy Foundation and additional generous support of the Arcadia Fund, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google joined forces to develop the most advanced imaging and web technologies to bring to the web hundreds of Dead Sea Scrolls images as well as specially developed supporting resources in a user-friendly platform intended for the public, students and scholars alike.
A number of bloggers wrote about this, not a few of whom Jim McGrath links to.
December saw a plethora of posts about παρθένος/עלמה in Isaiah 7:14, and Matthew’s use of that verse. Here is T.M. Law, saying that Greek Isaiah’s use of παρθένος for עלמה is not without precedent in the LXX (“The Greek translator of Isaiah used a perfectly acceptable rendering for עלמה.”). Here’s the Jesus Creed on the virgin birth. Krista Dalton notes, “[T]he author of Matthew is not saying that Isaiah was envisioning the birth of Jesus.” Kevin Brown of Diglotting posts here about it. And, looking at hermeneutics more generally, Brian LePort suggested three paradigms to use in studying the virgin birth.
J.K. Gayle at The WOMBman’s Bible (“An Outsider’s Perspective on the Hebrew Males’ Hellene Book”) posted reflections from Greek Isaiah not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, but 7 times in December. Set aside some time and read them all.
Anthony Le Donne is taking on the Wikipedia entry on “Historical Jesus” (best biblioblog comment of the month: here). James Tabor asked how December 25 got to be the day we observe Jesus’ birthday (with more thoughts here). Mark Goodacre produced a Christmas NT Pod in which he “explores the differences between the Birth Narratives in Matt. 1-2 and Luke 1-2 and asks how this can be the case if Luke is familiar with Matthew.” The Sacred Page produced a podcast on “the first Christmas.” For a fresh translation of Luke 1:34-38 (with the Greek reproduced beneath the English), see “She spoke yet-Miriam did.” Daniel Street even gave us some Christmas songs in Greek!
Anglican minister Rach Marszalek calls for nuance in discussions on the Trinity, as well as an appreciation of “the perichoretic beauty” of the Same. Read her “Eternal functional subordination and ontological equality?” here. While we’re on Anglicans, Brian LePort asks whether he needs a Bishop?
Gaudete Theology offers a feminist reading of “the bride of Christ” language. (“The image of the Bride of Christ needn’t be viewed only through the patriarchal perception of woman’s nature as inherently passive, docile, compliant, and receptive.”) Alice C. Linsley at Just Genesis would, I think, agree that the image and office of priest should also not be viewed through a patriarchal lens. She says, “Luther Was Wrong About the Priesthood.”
And, finally, may I offer thanks to Amanda at Cheesewearing Theology for this excellent December 2012 theology roundup? She covers yet more territory in theology than I have already covered here. If you’re disappointed that this carnival is about over, spend time reading the posts she collects.
Thanks for coming, and keep coming back! I blog regularly, so feel free to follow/subscribe by going back up to the right sidebar of the blog.