Accordance Bible has put its Göttingen Septuagint on sale, at its lowest price ever. There are 19 volumes, which span 34 Septuagint books. As Brian Davidson notes, Logos has five LXX volumes not in Accordance (Judith; Tobit; 3 Maccabees; Wisdom of Solomon; and Susanna, Daniel, and Bel et Draco), while only Accordance has the 2014 2 Chronicles. Neither has yet digitized the recently released Ecclesiastes volume.
$499 for the in-progress critical edition is not cheap, but serious students of the Septuagint will receive at least that much value from the modules. The Genesis print volume alone retails for about $250. The Accordance versions are morphologically tagged, so you never have to guess at a parsing or translation equivalent. As with all Accordance texts, Göttingen integrates seamlessly with lexicons, parallel texts, and other resources.
Here’s what the recently released 2 Chronicles volume looks like, with its apparatus open at bottom and two English translations of the Septuagint also open:
I’ve noted elsewhere that the critical apparatus in the Göttingen Septuagint is a text criticism workout. I’ve posted here and here about how to understand and use its apparatuses. Accordance hyperlinks all the abbreviations (everything in blue and underlined in the screenshot above is a hyperlink). The expanded abbreviations don’t mitigate the need for Latin and German in understanding the apparatus!
What especially sets Accordance apart from Logos is Accordance’s use of search fields in the apparatus, so that you can select a search field and run a more targeted search. I’ve found this most useful for when I’m trying to get a handle on how a particular manuscript might have treated the text. You can also search the apparatus by Greek content, so could see, for example, all of the Greek words that get treatment in the apparatus.
When I read through LXX Isaiah (mostly using Accordance) a few years ago, I made heavy use of Accordance’s “Compare” and “List Text Differences” features. This way you can see at a glance where Göttingen and Rahlfs or Swete differ on the book you’re looking at.
Do you want to really geek out on using the Septuagint in Accordance? Here‘s a post I wrote for their blog the other day, on using Accordance to generate a list of Greek vocabulary that New Testament readers might want to consider when coming to the Septuagint.
Disclosure: Accordance set me up with the 2 Chronicles volume to review. And I lead Webinars for them. That did not influence the objectivity of this post.
The Leningrad Codex is the basis for the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), the critical edition of the Hebrew Bible. Leningrad is the earliest complete Masoretic manuscript still available to us, dating from the 11th century. BHS is what’s called a diplomatic edition–it uses Leningrad as the best available text with a critical apparatus at bottom.
Images of Codex Leningradensis, as it is also known, are available freely online. (See here, for example.) But users of Bible software still have hoped for something more integrated and easier to use than a .pdf.
BibleWorks 10 offers Leningrad images, fully integrated with the rest of the software’s texts. There are even verse markers so you know where you are in the manuscript. You can toggle verse markers off if you want to read through with no help.
Here’s what it looks like:
You can see in the image above that I can view the Leningrad Codex (with verse markers) in tandem with BibleWorks’s Search Window (far left), Browse Window (second from left and showing multiple versions of my choosing), and Analysis Window (second from right, here featuring lexical data that automatically appears as I hover over words in the Browse window).
It’s possible to zoom in and out of the image at far right to get a closer look at the manuscript detail if you desire. Or you can open it in its own window, like so:
Now you can navigate the Leningrad Codex using the sidebar at left.
One other really cool feature–by hovering over the verse reference in the codex, you bring up a pop-up window showing you multiple versions:
Very impressive. Note, too, the nifty blue and yellow color scheme in the image above.
My only critique of this new, flagship feature (which is executed really well) is that there’s not a keyboard shortcut to zoom in and out of the codex images. You have to right-click, then navigate through the contextual menu for the zoom percentage you want, then select it. Somewhat making up for this, however, is the ability to simply click-hold and drag your way through the images.
Check out a short video of the codex in BW10 here:
BibleWorks 9 took a huge leap forward in offerings of Greek manuscripts:
Now BibleWorks 10 starts to bring the program’s Hebrew offerings to parity with the Greek. There is still much more by way of Greek MSS in BW10 (might we hope for the Aleppo Codex in BW11?). But BibleWorks is the first software to offer the images of Leningrad to its users. A big step forward to readers and students of Hebrew.
I received a free upgrade to BibleWorks 10 for the purposes of offering an unbiased review. See my other BibleWorks posts here. You can order the full program here or upgrade here. It’s on Amazon, too.
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.
From The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS):
The Göttingen Septuaginta-Unternehmen, home of the Göttingen editions of the Septuagint, has announced two initiatives of interest to those dealing with textual criticism of the Septuagint.
Follow the link above to the Unternehmen’s home page. There’s a lot to check out there, including what I would consider the vacation/retreat of a lifetime. (Time with family tops everything, but this school would come in second.)
Back to the “free” part:
Several of the older volumes that have appeared in the series “Mitteilungen des Septuaginta-Unternehmens” are no longer available in print. To meet the wishes of the scholarly community to maintain access to these publications (among them, Rahlfs’ Verzeichnis), the Septuaginta-Unternehmen has published a free PDF scan of the first four volumes on its website.
These resources are available in the Septuaginta-Unternehmen’s new website, which is available in both German and English.
The link noted above (this one) includes, among other things, free downloads of the valuable and difficult to find Text History of the Greek… books by John William Wevers. You can download:
Text History of the Greek Genesis (1974)
Text History of the Greek Exodus (1992)
Text History of the Greek Leviticus (1986)
Text History of the Greek Numbers (1982)
Text History of the Greek Deuteronomy (1978)
They are large files, but I’m grateful to be able to have them.