One good monograph to read on the Septuagint is First Bible of the Church. And if you want to get in-depth with the critical edition of the LXX, I have offered reviews of the Göttingen Septuagint in Logos and Accordance softwares. And, perhaps as important, I suggest how one might actually make sense of that critical edition, noted here and here, with an ever-elusive third part of the primer still to come.
I have very recently reviewed the Genesis volume of the Göttingen Septuagint, found here.
Happy LXX Day!
(The above is a slightly modified re-post of my 2014 Happy LXX Day post.)
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.
The best (only?) complete set of books on the Greek Pentateuch is now up on Pre-Pub through Logos Bible Software: John William Wevers’s Notes on the Greek Text.
The Society of Biblical Literature’s book page has a helpful write-up of the Deuteronomy volume, which gives a sense of what this series is about:
Wevers [spent] most of his adult life studying the Septuagint, the last thirty years being devoted to the Pentateuch. The author considers the Greek text to be the first commentary on the Pentateuch ever written (in the third century B.C.E.) and not merely a collection for emendations of the Hebrew text. The work focuses on how the translator accomplished his task and on the vocabulary and syntax of the resulting text, rather than on either scholarly opinions on the text or how interpreters subsequently used the text. The Notes are intended for students who would like to use the Greek intelligently but are not specialists in Hellenistic Greek or LXX studies.
You can find the 5-volume set on pre-pub at Logos here. Wevers also wrote valuable LXX-Pentateuch text histories, which are available free online in .pdf form, detailed here.
You Google yourself about every three months, too, right?
To my surprise, a few months ago I found that Words on the Word had been quoted in a Brill book about digital humanities in biblical studies. (Apparently “digital humanities” is an academic field in which this blog participates.)
Ancient texts, once written by hand on parchment and papyrus, are now increasingly discoverable online in newly digitized editions, and their readers now work online as well as in traditional libraries. So what does this mean for how scholars may now engage with these texts, and for how the disciplines of biblical, Jewish and Christian studies might develop? These are the questions that contributors to this volume address. Subjects discussed include textual criticism, palaeography, philology, the nature of ancient monotheism, and how new tools and resources such as blogs, wikis, databases and digital publications may transform the ways in which contemporary scholars engage with historical sources. Contributors attest to the emergence of a conscious recognition of something new in the way that we may now study ancient writings, and the possibilities that this new awareness raises.
You can find the book at Brill here and here at Amazon. Looks fun! But, of course, now I’m biased.
Working with the Göttingen Septuagint is not for the faint of heart, as I have noted before–though I have offered a couple of widely read (and hopefully helpful) posts on how to read and understand LXX-G.
New Göttingen volumes are not frequent; to publish one involves a great deal of work on the part of the editor.
Here’s a screengrab of part of a page from a Google Book preview. The volume has the familiar font and layout of (a) critically reconstructed Greek text, (b) Kopfleiste (manuscript Source List), and (c) textual apparatus:
This is the first-ever critical edition of the volume Paralipomenon II and represents a major step in the continued publication of the oldest Septuagint text available.
For this critical edition of the oldest available Septuagint text, the editor consulted Greek papyri predating the Christian era (3rd/2nd century BC), minuscule scripts from the 16th century AD as well as other Latin, Coptic, Syrian, Ethiopian and Armenic secondary translations. He also included Septuagint quotes stemming from Church authors in both Greek and Latin as well as the printed editions of the Septuagint from the 16th to the 20th century. This critical edition of the Paralipomenon II represents the continuation of the publication of the critical edition of the oldest Septuagint text available.
You can find the volume here at V & R and here at Amazon.
The aim of the DSEGJS [Dictionary of the Septuagint and Early Greek Jewish Scriptures] is to provide a comprehensive reference guide to the Greek Jewish Scriptures (GJS) in their Greco-Roman context as well as their subsequent influence on the early church and post Second Temple Judaism. The field as well as the general interest in matters related to the GJS has grown significantly in the past 30 years, but the discipline is lacking an informative reference tool for students and specialists, as well as scholars and students in related fields. The scope of the dictionary is to provide factual information about books, persons, places, and events, as well as define words and explain theories as they relate to the GJS. In most cases, the next step is to read an article or volume that is devoted to the topic itself, though in some cases the nature of this new endeavour means the DSEGJS is the primary source of information.
Many 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.”
The Septuagint Studies Soirée is back. You can find all previous months gathered here, where I post links to what I find around the blogosphere in Septuagint studies. This soirée covers two months: April and May.
T. Michael Law continues to dominate the Septuagintablogosphere with his Septuagint Sessions podcast. Since the last soirée he posted episode 4 (on Greek Isaiah’s style), episode 5 (“Your BHS is safe with me!”), and episode 6 (“about a problem in research on the LXX that stems from a canonical bias”).
Finally, check out Jacob Cerone’s post of a Greek exam given in the late 19th century by John Broadus and A. T. Robertson (pictured at the top of this post). He even takes part of it and posts his answers. Nice work, Jacob!
…besides the Septuagint itself, is this spot right here. It’s the Web presence of The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS). The IOSCS is “a nonprofit, learned society formed to promote international research in and study of the Septuagint and related texts.”
Membership in the organization is affordable (especially for students). They put out an annual journal (some volumes of which are freely available here), offer a yearly prize, and link to some useful LXX resources here.
The IOSCS home page is updated fairly regularly with news of publications, conferences, and other announcements. Check it out.