Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house, that you have loved me forever?
“You have brought me thus far” (Hebrew) vs. “you have loved me forever” (Greek). Both beautiful, but the latter is simply arresting.
Okay, so you would learn about this if you were reading the Hebrew with the BHS and its apparatus, which notes the variant by back-translating the Greek into the Hebrew the translator might have been looking at:
𝔊 ἠγάπησάς με ἕως αἰῶνος = אֲהַבְתַּנִי עַד־עוֹלָם
In other words, the Greek translator could have been looking at the same Hebrew and just transposed a few letters.
Interestingly, the Tov/Polak MT-LXX parallel picks up the difference between “thus far” (MT) and “forever” (LXX) but not “brought me” (MT) vs. “loved me” (LXX). Even the parallel 2 Samuel 7:18 (LXX) doesn’t fully mirror this Chronicles verse. It has instead:
ὅτι ἠγάπηκάς με ἕως τούτων = that you have loved me thus far (lit., until these)
Regardless of which reading has the most support (and I just don’t have access to original manuscripts!), the LXX of 1 Chronicles 17:16 is certainly beautiful!
Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house, that you have loved me forever?
The last two years have seen the appearance of two significant resources for Septuagint reading: the recently released reader’s Septuagint and Karen Jobes’s Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader (Kregel, 2016). I reviewed Jobes’s volume here when it came out. Today Accordance Bible Software has released its edition.
A couple of quick notes: (1) Accordance set me up with a review copy so I could write about it and (2) much of the below draws on or quotes my review of the print edition, albeit with an eye toward the use of the Guided Reader in Accordance specifically.
Short, one-sentence version: Accordance takes an already good (and long-awaited) resource and significantly enhances its usability for readers of the Septuagint.
Below is a longer review of the resource, in Q & A format.
What books of the LXX are covered?
There are ten readings, meant to “give readers a taste of different genres, an experience of distinctive Septuagintal elements, and a sampling of texts later used by writers of the New Testament” (9). Discovering the Septuagint treats nearly 700 verses from:
Genesis (80 verses)
Exodus (79 verses)
Exodus 20:1–21 // Deuteronomy 5:6–21 (The 10 Commandments)
Ruth (85 verses)
Additions to Greek Esther (73 verses)
Psalms (67 verses)
Hosea (56 verses)
Jonah (48 verses)
Malachi (55 verses)
Isaiah (81 verses)
For whom is this book?
Jobes says it “contains everything needed for any reader with three semesters of koine Greek to succeed in expanding their horizons to the Septuagint” (8). This felt right as I worked through the resource. I found the book easy to understand (though I’ve had more than three semesters of Greek).
How is the book structured?
Each LXX book has a short introduction followed by a selected bibliography. Here, for example, is the intro to Jonah, shown on the Mac version of Accordance:
Next there is the passage itself, verse by verse, with the Greek text re-printed in full. Under each verse are word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase comments on the vocabulary, usage, syntax, translation from Hebrew (the book is strong here), and so on. Following each passage is the NETS (English translation) and mention of any NT use (if applicable) of the LXX passage.
The end of the book has a three-page, 33-term glossary and a two-page “Index of New Testament LXX Citations” for the books included in the reader.
What does a sample entry look like?
Here’s Jonah 4:6 in print…
… and in Accordance, which I got to in under a second by setting the search field to “Reference” and typing in “=Jon 4:6”:
What’s commendable about Discovering the Septuagint?
The very existence of this resource is a boon to Greek readers. There long has existed Conybeare and Stock, as well as some passages in Decker’s Koine Greek Reader, but readers of the Septuagint have far fewer resources than readers of the Greek New Testament.
While the text edition has plenty wide margins for students to jot down their own parsings, translations, and notes, the margins of the Accordance edition give you a plus icon that will allow you to do the same in Accordance.
Notes on the verses are often answers to questions I’ve had as I’ve read the Greek text. In this sense the reader is a great guide. For example, here is a comment from Genesis 1:4:
ἀνὰ μέσον…ἀνὰ μέσον | Idiomatic prep phrase, “between.” This is a Hebraism, so there is no need to translate the second of the pair as NETS does.
And another helpful nugget from Genesis 1:11:
κατὰ γένος | Prep + neut sg acc (3rd dec) noun, γένος, kind. Remember the nom and acc forms are identical in this paradigm. Agrees with and modifies σπέρμα.
Accordance adds hyperlinks to abbreviations, so that you only have to hover over them to see what they stand for.
What is lacking? (And how does the Accordance edition make up for it?)
The glued binding didn’t do justice to a book like this, but that’s obviously not an issue here. Plus, portability is high, and you can read your Septuagint passages at night in dark mode on iOS!
As I noted in my review of the print edition, there is a peppering of vague statements like this one on “the image of God” in Genesis 1:26: “See a commentary or study Bible” (31). And the book introductions could have done more to talk about specific Greek issues in that given book. Accordance, however, makes it super-easy to get from this resource to another, whether a study Bible or any other. Just selecting a word, for example, gives you options to search it in another resource. Like this on iOS:
All in all, Discovering the Septuagint is worth owning, and the Accordance edition significantly increases its value. There is a lot of Greek help to be had here.
Discovering the Septuagint is available in print from Kregel and here from Accordance, where it is currently on sale.
Today I read Psalm 1 out of the just-released Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition, and it was just as wonderful as I’ve long imagined it would be!
First and foremost, this is due to the power of Scripture itself. The Psalms are just amazing. And there’s something about reading the Bible in its first languages that fosters (at least for me) a deeper sense of connection to the church throughout time and space.
But until this month, Bible readers and original language students could only read the Septuagint with the aid of a lexicon or Bible software. Other than a few tools with selected passages, there was no edition of the Septuagint with footnoted vocabulary and parsings throughout, so that you could pick up one book and read, with all the help you needed at the bottom of the page.
I fully applaud the decision to make this a two-volume work. (How could it be otherwise?) Included underneath the text is an apparatus:
In order to facilitate natural and seamless reading of the text, every word occurring 100 times or fewer in the Rahlfs-Hanhart text (excluding proper names)—as well as every word that occurs more than 100 times in the Rahlfs-Hanhart text but fewer than 30 times in the Greek New Testament—is accompanied by a footnote that provides a contextual gloss for the word and (for verbs only) full parsing.
For everything else there is a Glossary at the back of each volume.
Everything is beautifully typeset–much better-looking than the Rahlfs-Hanhart Septuagint text (all due respect to that typesetter!). The font is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. The pages are cream-colored (which looks great) and not at all the wispy-thin Bible paper I was expecting. AND the binding is sewn. This Septuagint will last a lifetime.
What does the text itself look like, you wonder?
The only thing I have approximating lack of complete satisfaction with these beautiful volumes is the exclusion of the Odes that are in the Rahlfs-Hanhart text. The decision of editors Greg Lanier and Will Ross is in keeping with a more attested LXX text; besides, other than the Prayer of Manasseh, which they include, the other Odes are already present elsewhere in the Septuagint. Best to think of the Odes as a sort of hymnal for the early church, rather than an actual “book” of the LXX. (The New English Translation of the Septuagint says in its introduction that the Odes have “dubious integrity as a literary unit.”) So I’ll be the first to acknowledge that this “critique” has no textual or methodological grounding whatsoever and is solely rooted in my own desire to read through the worshipful Odes with footnoted vocabulary and parsings. 🙂
Of course, if I know the right places to go, I still can read the Odes:
Now… about that apparatus! The two columns (rather than continuous lines) make it really easy to move back and forth between the vocab/parsings and the text itself. Again, A+ on typesetting and layout. And I so appreciate that Lanier and Ross have included verb parsings… not every reader’s Bible does. This way readers can work both on their vocabulary and their ability to parse less familiar verbs. Here’s a close-up:
I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the work Lanier, Ross, and others put in to this project. A major desideratum of Greek reading and Septuagint studies is finally here, and so far, it has far exceeded my expectations.
A full review is coming later. For now, check out this masterpiece here at CBD, where it is available for a totally-worth-it sale price.
Thanks to the awesome people at Hendrickson for the review copy, sent to me with no expectation as to the content of this review.
To quote the apostle Paul, “I know a person in Christ” who has received his reader’s edition of the Septuagint. (Whether Paul’s statement was self-referential or not, mine isn’t.) That means it’s now shipping from CBD, where it is also on sale for a great price. Check it out here, and see my previous post about this long-awaited edition here.
Septuagint readers have wanted this resource for a LOOONG time, and now thanks to William A. Ross and Gregory R. Lanier, we only have to wait till November for…
a Reader’s Edition of the Septuagint.
The basic idea behind a reader’s edition is to provide an edition of the ancient text – in our case Rahlfs-Hanhart’s – annotated with running footnotes with lexical information. Since most students and scholars of biblical studies are most familiar with New Testament vocabulary, picking up a Septuagint can make for a challenge. Our reader’s edition seriously reduces that challenge by providing the footnotes for rarer vocabulary, thereby making the reading experience much more seamless and less intimidating.
Here is a sample page, taken from the dedicated Website set up for the Reader’s LXX. Feast your eyes on this:
God’s covenant people have always needed a mediator. And God—with limitless grace—has always sent mediators to the people.
A mediator joins two parties together, stands in the gaps, bridges their conflict. A mediator is “a go-between,” a re-negotiator, an arbitrator. An effective mediator is a miracle worker.
Scripture narrates a familiar pattern: God makes covenants with his people; his people break them; God uses mediators to make peace.
The Greek word for mediator is μεσίτης (mesitēs). Careful readers of Scripture know that “the idea of mediation and therefore of persons acting in the capacity of mediator permeates the Bible” (New Bible Dictionary, 3rd edition). However, the word mediator=μεσίτης (mesitēs) occurs only six times in the Greek New Testament.
Three of those uses are in Hebrews (8:6, 9:15, and 12:24). Two are in Galatians 3:19-20. And one is in 1 Timothy 2:5, a theologically rich verse:
there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human….
The concept and practice of mediation (think: sacrifice, atonement) does indeed fill the pages of the Old Testament. Most of the New Testament uses of mediator, in fact, reference the old covenant. So I found it especially fascinating when I learned that mediator=μεσίτης (mesitēs) occurs only once in the Greek Septuagint.
It comes up in a striking passage in Job 9:33.
Job has already lost everything. But we remember as he utters these words in chapter 9 that the Bible describes him as “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” It said he would “rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings,” just in case his children had sinned. He covered all his bases. He kept at least the semblance of a covenant with God.
And yet Job senses a breach. All manner of tragedy has befallen him, and everyone around him tells him to curse God. He won’t, but still he feels at odds with God. Job says to the Lord:
… you are not a mortal like me, with whom I would contend,
that we should agree to come to trial.
Would that there were a μεσίτης/mesitēs/mediator for us and an investigator
and one to hear the case between us two.
(This is from the NETS translation, which translates μεσίτης as arbiter.)
Job longs for a mediator, an arbiter between him and God. An “umpire,” the NRSV says, translating the Hebrew.
Again, Job calls for a mediator, even though we have no narrative evidence that he broke a covenant with God! He acknowledges that he can’t “contend” with God as in court, but still yearns for a “mediator” to bridge the gap between him and God.
And now, for the pastoral payoff:
If Job, who led a blameless life, thought he needed a mediator to get to God, how much more do we, God’s not-blameless people, need a mediator to be in the presence of a perfectly holy God?