Easton's Bible Dictionary
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
The Septuagint or Greek version of the Old Testament
appears at the present day in four principal editions:
|(1) Biblia Polyglotta Complutensis,
(2) The Aldine Edition, Venice, A.D. 1518.
(3) The Roman Edition, edited under Pope Sixtus V., A.D. 1587.
(4) Fac-simile Edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, by H. H. Baber, A.D. 1816. [TARGUMS]
The Jews of Alexandria had probably still less knowledge of Hebrew than their
brethren in Palestine their familiar language was Alexandrian Greek. They had
settled in Alexandria in large numbers soon after the time of Alexander, and under
the early Ptolemies. They would naturally follow the same practice as the Jews
in Palestine; and hence would arise in time an entire Greek version. But the numbers
and names of the translators, and the times at which different portions were translated
are all uncertain. The commonly-received story respecting its origin is contained
in an extant letter ascribed to Aristeas, who was an officer at the court of Ptolemy
Philadelphus. This letter which is dressed by Aristeas to his brother Philocrates,
gives a glowing account of the origin of the Septuagint; of the embassy and presents
sent by King Ptolemy to the high priest at Jerusalem, by the advice of Demetrius
Phalereus, his librarian, 30 talents of gold and 70 talents of silver, etc.; the
Jewish slaves whom he set free, paying their ransom himself the letter of the
king: the answer of the high priest; the choosing of six interpreters from each
of the twelve tribes and their names; the copy of the law, in letters of gold;
the feast prepared for the seventy two, which continued for seven days; the questions
proposed to each of the interpreters in turn, with the answers of each; their
lodging by the seashore and the accomplishment of their work in seventy. two days,
by conference and comparison. This is the story which probably gave to the version
the title of the Septuagint, and which has been repeated in various forms by the
Christian writers. But it is now generally admitted that the letter is spurious
and is probably the fabrication of an Alexandrian Jew shortly before the Christian
era. Still there can be no doubt that there was a basis of fact for the fiction;
on three points of the story there is no material difference of opinion and they
are confirmed by the study of the version itself: The version was made at Alexandria.
It was begun in the time of the earlier Ptolemies, about 280 B.C. The law (i.e.
the Pentateuch) alone was translated at first.
The Septuagint version was highly esteemed by the Hellenistic
Jews before the coming of Christ. Wherever, by the conquests of Alexander or by
colonization, the Greek language prevailed wherever Jews were settled and the
attention of the neighboring Gentiles was drawn to their wondrous history and
law there was found the Septuagint, which thus became, by divine Providence the
means of spreading widely the knowledge of the one true God and his promises of
it Saviour to come, throughout the nations. To the wide dispersion of this version
we may ascribe in great measure that general persuasion which prevailed over the
whole East of the near approach of the Redeemer, and led the Magi to recognize
the star which, reclaimed the birth of the King of the Jews. Not less wide was
the influence of the Septuagint in the spread of the gospel. For a long period
the Septuagint was the Old Testament of the far larger part of the Christian Church.
Character of the Septuagint.
The Septuagint is faithful in substance but not minutely accurate in details.
It has been clearly shown by Hody, Frankel and others that the several books were
translated by different persons, without any comprehensive revision to harmonize
the several parts. Names and words are rendered differently in different books.
Thus the character of the version varies much in the several books, those of the
Pentateuch are the best. The poetical parts are, generally speaking, inferior
to the historical, the original abounding with rarer words and expressions. In
the major prophets (probably translated nearly 100 years after the Pentateuch)
some of the most important prophecies are sadly obscured. Ezekiel and the minor
prophets (generally speaking) seem to be better rendered. Supposing the numerous
glosses and duplicate renderings, which have evidently crept from the margin into
the text, to be removed and forming a rough estimate of what the Septuagint was
in its earliest state, we may perhaps say of it that it is the image of the original
seen through a glass not adjusted to the proper focus; the larger features are
shown, but the sharpness of definition is lost. The close connection between the
Old and the New Testament makes the study of the Septuagint most valuable, and
indeed indispensable, to the theological student. It was manifestly the chief
storehouse from which the apostles drew their proofs and precepts.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The Greek version of the Old Testament commonly known as the Septuagint holds
a unique place among translations. Its importance is manysided. Its chief value
lies in the fact that it is a version of a Hebrew text earlier by about a millennium
than the earliest dated Hebrew manuscript extant (916 AD), a version, in particular,
prior to the formal rabbinical revision of the Hebrew which took place early in
the 2nd century AD. It supplies the materials for the reconstruction of an older
form of the Hebrew than the Massoretic Text reproduced in our modern Bibles. It
is, moreover, a pioneering work; there was probably no precedent in the world's
history for a series of translations from one language into another on so extensive
a scale. It was the first attempt to reproduce the Hebrew Scriptures in another
tongue. It is one of the outstanding results of the breaking-down of international
barriers by the conquests of Alexander the Great and the dissemination of the
Greek language, which were fraught with such vital consequences for the history
of religion. The cosmopolitan city which he founded in the Delta witnessed the
first attempt to bridge the gulf between Jewish and Greek thought. The Jewish
commercial settlers at Alexandria, forced by circumstances to abandon their language,
clung tenaciously to their faith; and the translation of the Scriptures into their
adopted language, produced to meet their own needs, had the further result of
introducing the outside world to a knowledge of their history and religion. Then
came the most momentous event in its history, the starting-point of a new life;
the translation was taken over from the Jews by the Christian church. It was the
Bible of most writers of the New Testament. Not only are the majority of their
express citations from Scripture borrowed from it, but their writings contain
numerous reminiscences of its language. Its words are household words to them.
It laid for them the foundations of a new religious terminology. It was a potent
weapon for missionary work, and, when versions of the Scriptures into other languages
became necessary, it was in most cases the Septuagint and not the Hebrew from
which they were made. Preeminent among these daughter versions was the Old Latin
which preceded the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.), for the most
part a direct translation from the Hebrew, was in portions a mere revision of
the Old Latin; our Prayer-book version of the Psalter preserves peculiarities
of the Septuagint, transmitted through the medium of the Old Latin. The Septuagint
was also the Bible of the early Greek Fathers, and helped to mold dogma; it furnished
proof-texts to both parties in the Arian controversy. Its language gives it another
strong claim to recognition. Uncouth and unclassical as much of it appears, we
now know that this is not wholly due to the hampering effects of translation.
"Biblical Greek," once considered a distinct species, is now a rather discredited
term. The hundreds of contemporary papyrus records (letters, business and legal
documents, etc.) recently discovered in Egypt illustrate much of the vocabulary
and grammar and go to show that many so-called "Hebraisms" were in truth integral
parts of the koine, or "common language," i.e. the international form of Greek
which, since the time of Alexander, replaced the old dialects, and of which the
spoken Greek of today is the lineal descendant. The version was made for the populace
and written in large measure in the language of their everyday life.
The name "Septuagint" is an abbreviation of Interpretatio secundum (or juxta)
Septuaginta seniores (or viros), i.e. the Greek translation of the Old Testament
of which the first installment was, according to the Alexandrian legend (see III,
below), contributed by 70 (or 72) elders sent from Jerusalem to Alexandria for
the purpose at the request of Ptolemy II. The legend in its oldest form restricts
their labors to the Pentateuch but they were afterward credited with the translation
of the whole Bible, and before the 4th century it had become customary to apply
the title to the whole collection: Aug., De Civ. Dei, xviii.42, "quorum interpretatio
ut Septuaginta vocetur iam obtinuit consuetudo" ("whose translation is now by
custom called the Septuagint"). The manuscripts refer to them under the abbreviation
hoi o' ("the seventy"), or hoi ob', ("the seventy-two"). The "Septuagint" and
the abbreviated form "LXX" have been the usual designations hitherto, but, as
these are based on a now discredited legend, they are coming to be replaced by
"the Old Testament in Greek," or "the Alexandrian version" with the abbreviation
III. TRADITIONAL ORIGIN
The traditional account of the translation of the Pentateuch is contained in the
so-called letter of Aristeas (editions of Greek text, P. Wendland, Teubner series,
1900, and Thackeray in the App. to Swete's Introduction to the Old Testament in
Greek, 1900, etc.; Wendland's sections cited below appear in Swete's Introduction,
edition 2; English translation by Thackeray, Macmillan, 1904, reprinted from JQR,
XV, 337, and by H. T. Andrews in Charles' Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the
Old Testament, II, 83-122, Oxford, 1913).
1. Letter of Aristeas
The writer professes to be a high official at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus
(285-247 BC), a Greek interested in Jewish antiquities. Addressing his brother
Philocrates he describes an embassy to Jerusalem on which he has recently been
sent with another courtier Andreas. According to his narrative, Demetrius of Phalerum,
a prominent figure in later Athenian history, who here appears as the royal librarian
at Alexandria, convinced the king of the importance of securing for his library
a translation of the Jewish Law. The king at the same time, to propitiate the
nation from whom he was asking a favor, consented, on the suggestion of Aristeas,
to liberate all Jewish slaves in Egypt. Copies follow of the letters which passed
between Ptolemy and Eleazar, the high priest at Jerusalem. Ptolemy requests Eleazar
to select and dispatch to Alexandria 72 elders, proficient in the Law, 6 from
each tribe, to undertake the translation the importance of the task requiring
the services of a large number to secure an accurate version Eleazar complies
with the request and the names of the selected translators are appended to his
|(1) a detailed description of votive offerings sent by Ptolemy
for the temple;
(2) a sketch of Jerusalem, the temple and its services, and the geography of Israel,
doubtless reflecting in part the impressions of an eyewitness and giving a unique
picture of the Jewish capital in the Ptolemaic era;
(3) an exposition by Eleazar of portions of the Law.
The translators arrive at Alexandria, bringing a copy of the Law written in letters
of gold on rolls of skins, and are honorably received by Ptolemy. A seven days'
banquet follows, at which the king tests the proficiency of each in turn with
hard questions. Three days later Demetrius conducts them across the mole known
as the Heptastadion to the island of Pharos, where, with all necessaries provided
for their convenience, they complete their task, as by a miracle, in 72 days;
we are expressly told that their work was the result of collaboration and comparison.
The completed version was read by Demetrius to the Jewish community, who received
it with enthusiasm and begged that a copy might be entrusted to their leaders;
a solemn curse was pronounced on any who should venture to add to or subtract
from or make any alteration in the translation. The whole version was then read
aloud to the king who expressed his admiration and his surprise that Greek writers
had remained in ignorance of its contents; he directed that the books should be
preserved with scrupulous care.
2. Evidence of Aristobulus and Philo
To set beside this account we have two pre-Christian allusions in Jewish writings.
Aristobulus, addressing a Ptolemy who has been identified as Philometor (182-146
BC), repeats the statement that the Pentateuch was translated under Philadelphus
at the instance of Demetrius Phalereus (Eusebius, Praep. Ev., XIII, 12,664b);
but the genuineness of the passage is doubtful. If it is accepted, it appears
that some of the main features of the story were believed at Alexandria within
a century of the date assigned by "Aristeas" to the translation Philo (Vit. Moys,
ii.5 ff) repeats the story of the sending of the translators by Eleazar at the
request of Philadelphus, adding that in his day the completion of the undertaking
was celebrated by an annual festival on the isle of Pharos. It is improbable that
an artificial production like the Aristeas letter should have occasioned such
an anniversary; Philo's evidence seems therefore to rest in part on an independent
tradition. His account in one particular paves the way for later accretions; he
hints at the inspiration of the translators and the miraculous agreement of their
separate VSS: "They prophesied like men possessed, not one in one way and one
in another, but all producing the same words and phrases as though some unseen
prompter were at the ears of each." At the end of the 1st century AD Josephus
includes in his Antiquities (XII, ii, 1 ff) large portions of the letter, which
he paraphrases, but does not embellish.
3. Later Accretions
Christian writers accepted the story without suspicion and amplified it. A catena
of their evidence is given in an Appendix to Wendland's edition. The following
are their principal additions to the narrative, all clearly baseless fabrications.
|(1) The translators worked independently, in separate cells,
and produced identical versions, Ptolemy proposing this test of their trustworthiness.
So Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, the Chronicon Paschale and the
Cohortatio ad Graecos (wrongly attributed to Justin); the author of the last work
asserts that he had seen the cells and heard the tradition on the spot.
(2) A modification of this legend says that the translators worked in pairs in
36 cells. So Epiphanius (died 403 AD), and later G. Syncellus, Julius Pollux and
Zonaras. Epiphanius' account is the most detailed. The translators were locked
up in sky-lighted cells in pairs with attendants and shorthand writers; each pair
was entrusted with one book, the books were then circulated, and 36 identical
versions of the whole Bible, canonical and apocryphal books, were produced; Ptolemy
wrote two letters, one asking for the original Scriptures, the second for translators.
(3) This story of the two embassies appears already in the 2nd century AD, in
Justin's Apology, and
(4) the extension of the translators' work to the Prophets or the whole Bible
recurs in the two Cyrils and in Chrysostom.
(5) The miraculous agreement of the translators proved them to be no less inspired
than the authors (Irenaeus, etc.; compare Philo).
(6) As regards date, Clement of Alexandria quotes an alternative tradition referring
the version back to the time of the first Ptolemy (322-285 BC); while Chrysostom
brings it down to "a hundred or more years (elsewhere "not many years") before
the coming of Christ." Justin absurdly states that Ptolemy's embassy was sent
to King Herod; the Chronicon Paschale calls the high priest of the time Onias
Simon, brother of Eleazar.
Jerome was the first to hold these later inventions up to ridicule, contrasting
them with the older and more sober narrative. They indicate a growing oral tradition
in Jewish circles at Alexandria. The origin of the legend of the miraculous consensus
of the 70 translators has been reasonably sought in a passage in Ex 24 Septuagint
to which Epiphanius expressly refers. We there read of 70 elders of Israel, not
heard of again, who with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu form a link between Moses and
the people. After reciting the Book of the Covenant Moses ascends to the top of
the mount; the 70, however, ascend but a little way and are bidden to worship
from afar: according to the Septuagint text "They saw the place where the God
of Israel stood .... and of the elect of Israel not one perished" (Ex 24:11),
i.e. they were privileged to escape the usual effect of a vision of the Deity
(Ex 33:20). But the verb used for "perish" (diaphonein) was uncommon in this sense;
"not one disagreed" would be the obvious meaning; hence, apparently the legend
of the agreement of the translators, the later intermediaries between Moses and
Israel of the Dispersion. When the translations were recited, "no difference was
discoverable," says Epiphanius, using the same verb, cave-dwellings in the island
of Pharos probably account for the legend of the cells. A curious phenomenon has
recently suggested that there is an element of truth in one item of Epiphanius'
obviously incredible narrative, namely, the working of the translators in pairs.
The Greek books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel fall into two nearly equal parts, apparently
the work of separate translators (see VIII, 1, (2), below); while in Exodus, Leviticus
and Psalms orthographical details indicate a similar division of the books for
clerical purposes. There was, it seems, a primitive custom of transcribing each
book on 2 separate rolls, and in the case of Jeremiah and Ezekiel the practice
goes back to the time of translation (JTS, IV, 245 ff, 398 ff; IX, 88 ff).
4. Criticism of the Aristeas Story
Beside the later extravagances, the story of Aristeas appears comparatively rational.
Yet it has long been recognized that much of it is unhistorical, in particular
the professed date and nationality of the writer. Its claims to authenticity were
demolished by Dr. Hody two centuries ago (De bibliorum textibus originalibus,
Oxon., 1705). Clearly the writer is not a Greek, but a Jew, whose aim is to glorify
his race and to disseminate information about their sacred books. Yet the story
is not wholly to be rejected, though it is difficult to disentangle truth from
fiction. On one side his veracity has since Hody's time been established; his
court titles, technical terms, epistolary formulas, etc., reappear in Egyptian
papyri and inscriptions, and all his references to Alexandrian life and customs
are probably equally trustworthy (sections 28, 109 ff, measures to counteract
the ill effects upon agriculture of migration from country to town; section 167,
treatment of informers (compare section 25); section 175 reception of foreign
embassies (compare section 182)). The import of this discovery has, however, since
its announcement by Lombroso (Recherches sur l'economie politique de l'Egypte,
Turin, 1870), been somewhat modified by the new-found papyri which show that Aristeas'
titles and formulas are those of the later, not the earlier, Ptolemaic age.
The letter was used by Josephus and probably known to Philo. How much earlier
is it? Schurer (HJP, II, iii, 309 f (GJV4,III, 608-16)), relying on
|(1) the questionable Aristobulus passage,
(2) the picture drawn of Israel as if still under Ptolemaic rule, from which it
passed to the Seleucids circa 200 BC, argued that the work could not be later
than that date. But it is hard to believe that a fictitious story (as he regards
it to be) could have gained credence within little more than half a century of
the period to which it relates, and Wendland rightly rejects so ancient an origin.
The following indications suggest a date about 100-80 BC.
|(1) Many of Aristeas' formulas, etc. (see above), only came
into use in the 2nd century BC (Strack, Rhein. Mus., LV, 168 ff; Thackeray, Aristeas,
English translation, pp. 3, 12).
(2) The later Maccabean age or the end of the 2nd century BC is suggested by some
of the translators' names (Wendland, xxvi), and
(3) by the independent position of the high priest.
(4) Some of Ptolemy's questions indicate a tottering dynasty (section 187, etc.).
(5) The writer occasionally forgets his role and distinguishes between his own
time and that of Philadelphus (sections 28, 182).
(6) He appears to borrow his name from a Jewish historian of the 2nd century BC
and to wish to pass off the latter's history as his own (section 6).
(7) He is guilty of historical inaccuracies concerning Demetrius, etc.
(8) The prologue to the Greek Ecclesiasticus (after 132 BC) ignores and contradicts
the Aristeas story, whereas Aristeas possibly used this prologue (Wendland, xxvii;
compare Hart, Ecclesiasticus in Greek, 1909).
(9) The imprecation upon any who should alter the translation (section 311) points
to divergences of text which the writer desired to check; compare section 57,
where he seems to insist on the correctness of the Septuagint text of Exodus 25:22,
"gold of pure gold," as against the Hebrew.
(10) Allusions to current criticisms of the Pentateuch (sections 128, 144) presuppose
a familiarity with it on the part of non-Jewish readers only explicable if the
Septuagint had long been current.
(11) Yet details in the Greek orthography preclude a date much later than 100
The probable amount of truth in the story is ably discussed by Swete (Intro, 16-22).
The following statements in the letter may be accepted:
|(1) The translation was produced at Alexandria, as is conclusively
proved by Egyptian influence on its language.
(2) The Pentateuch was translated first and, in view of the homogeneity of style,
as a whole.
(3) The Greek Pentateuch goes back to the first half of the 3rd century BC; the
style is akin to that of the 3rd-century papyri, and the Greek Genesis was used
by the Hellenist Demetrius toward the end of the century.
(4) The Hebrew rolls were brought from Jerusalem.
(5) Possibly Philadelphus, the patron of literature, with his religious impartiality,
may have countenanced the work. But the assertion that it owed its inception wholly
to him and his librarian is incredible; it is known from other sources that Demetrius
Phalereus did not fill the office of librarian under that monarch.
The language is that of the people, not a literary style suitable to a work produced
under royal patronage. The importation of Palestinian translators is likewise
fictitious. Dr. Swete acutely observes that Aristeas, in stating that the translation
was read to and welcomed by the Jewish community before being presented to the
king, unconsciously reveals its true origin. It was no doubt produced to meet
their own needs by the large Jewish colony at Alexandria. A demand that the Law
should be read in the synagogues in a tongue "understanded of the people" was
the originating impulse.
IV. EVIDENCE OF PROLOGUE TO SIRACH
The interesting, though in places tantalizingly obscure, prologue to Ecclesiasticus
throws light on the progress made with the translation of the remaining Scriptures
before the end of the 2nd century BC.
The translator dates his settlement in Egypt, during which he produced his version
of his grandfather's work, as "the 38th year under Euergetes the king." The words
have been the subject of controversy, but, with the majority of critics, we may
interpret this to mean the 38th year of Euergetes II, reckoning from the beginning
(170 BC) of his joint reign with Philometor, i.e. 132 BC. Euergetes I reigned
for 25 years only. Others, in view of the superfluous preposition, suppose that
the age of the translator is intended, but the cumbrous form of expression is
not unparalleled. A recent explanation of the date (Hart, Ecclesiasticus in Greek)
as the 38th year of Philadelphus which was also the 1st year of Euergetes I (i.e.
247 BC) is more ingenious than convincing.
The prologue implies the existence of a Greek version of the Law; the Prophets
and "the rest of the books." The translator, craving his readers' indulgence for
the imperfections of his own work, due to the difficulty of reproducing Hebrew
in Greek, adds that others have experienced the same difficulties: "The Law itself
and the prophecies and the rest of the books have no small difference when spoken
in their original language." From these words we may understand that at the time
of writing (132-100 BC) Alexandrian Jews possessed Greek versions of a large part
(probably not the whole) of "the Prophets," and of some of "the Writings" or Hagiographa.
For some internal evidence as to the order in which the several books were translated
see VIII, below.
V. TRANSMISSION OF THE SEPTUAGINT TEXT
The main value of the Septuagint is its witness to an older Hebrew text than our
own. But before we can reconstruct this Hebrew text we need to have a pure Greek
text before us, and this we are at present far from possessing. The Greek text
has had a long and complex history of its own. Used for centuries by both Jews
and Christians it underwent corruption and interpolation, and, notwithstanding
the multitude of materials for its restoration, the original text has yet to be
recovered. We are much more certain of the ipsissima verba of the New Testament
writers than of the original Alexandrian version of the Old Testament. This does
not apply to all portions alike. The Greek Pentateuch, e.g., has survived in a
relatively pure form. But everywhere we have to be on our guard against interpolations,
sometimes extending to whole paragraphs. Not a verse is without its array of variant
readings. An indication of the amount of "mixture" which has taken place is afforded
by the numerous "doublets" or alternative renderings of a single Hebrew word or
phrase which appear side by side in the transmitted text.
1. Early Corruption of the Text
Textual corruption began early, before the Christian era. We have seen indications
of this in the letter of Aristeas (III, 5, (9) above). Traces of corruption appear
in Philo (e.g. his comment, in Quis Rer. Div. Her. 56, on Gen 15:15, shows that
already in his day tapheis, "buried," had become trapheis, "nurtured," as in all
our manuscripts); doublets already exist. Similarly in the New Testament the author
of Hebrews quotes (12:15) a corrupt form of the Greek of Dt 29:18.
2. Official Revision of Hebrew Text circa 100 AD
But it was not until the beginning of the 2nd century AD that the divergence between
the Greek and the Palestinian Hebrew text reached an acute stage. One cause of
this was the revision of the Hebrew text which took place about this time. No
actual record of this revision exists, but it is beyond doubt that it originated
in the rabbinical school, of which Rabbi Akiba was the chief representative, and
which had its center at Jamnia in the years following the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Jewish doctors, their temple in ruins, concentrated their attention on the
settlement of the text of the Scriptures which remained to them. This school of
eminent critics, precursors of the Massoretes, besides settling outstanding questions
concerning the Canon, laid down strict rules for Biblical interpretation, and
in all probability established an official text.
3. Adoption of Septuagint by Christians
But another cause widened still farther the distance between the texts of Jerusalem
and Alexandria. This was the adoption of the Septuagint by the Christian church.
When Christians began to cite the Alexandrian version in proof of their doctrines,
the Jews began to question its accuracy. Hence, mutual recriminations which are
reflected in the pages of Justin's Dialogue with Trypho. "They dare to assert,"
says Justin (Dial., 68), "that the interpretation produced by your seventy elders
under Ptolemy of Egypt is in some points inaccurate." A crucial instance cited
by the Jews was the rendering "virgin" in Isa 7:14, where they claimed with justice
that "young woman" would be more accurate. Justin retaliates by charging the Jews
with deliberate excision of passages favorable to Christianity.
4. Alternative 2nd-Century Greek Versions
That such accusations should be made in those critical years was inevitable, yet
there is no evidence of any material interpolations having been introduced by
either party. But the Alexandrian version, in view of the revised text and the
new and stricter canons of interpretation, was felt by the Jews to be inadequate,
and a group of new translations of Scripture in the 2nd century AD supplied the
demand. We possess considerable fragments of the work of three of these translators,
namely, Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, besides scanty remnants of further anonymous
The earliest of "the three" was Aquila, a proselyte to Judaism, and, like his
New Testament namesake, a native of Pontus. He flourished, according to Epiphanius
(whose account of these later translators in his De mens. et pond. is not wholly
trustworthy), under Hadrian (117-38 AD) and was related to that emperor; there
is no ~probability in Epiphanius' further statement that Hadrian entrusted to
Aquila the superintendence of the building of Aelia Capitolina on the site of
Jerusalem, that there he was converted to Christianity by Christian exiles returning
from Pella, but that refusing to abandon astrology he was excommunicated, and
in revenge turned Jew and was actuated by a bias against Christianity in his version
of the Old Testament. What is certain is that he was a pupil of the new rabbinical
school, in particular of Rabbi Akiba (95-135 AD), and that his version was an
attempt to reproduce exactly the revised official text. The result was an extraordinary
production, unparalleled in Greek literature, if it can be classed under that
category at all. No jot or tittle of the Hebrew might be neglected; uniformity
in the translation of each Hebrew word must be preserved and the etymological
kinship of different Hebrew words represented. Such were some of his leading principles.
The opening words of his translation (Genesis 1:1) may be rendered: "In heading
rounded God with the heavens and with the earth." "Heading" or "summary" was selected
because the Hebrew word for "beginning" was a derivative of "head." "With" represents
an untranslatable word ('eth) prefixed to the accusative case, but indistinguishable
from the preposition "with." The Divine Name (the tetragrammaton, YHWH) was not
translated, but written in archaic Hebrew characters. "A slave to the letter,"
as Origen calls him, his work has aptly been described by a modern writer as "a
colossal crib" (Burkitt, JQR, October, 1896, 207 ff). Yet it was a success. In
Origen's time it was used by all Jews ignorant of Hebrew, and continued in use
for several centuries; Justinian expressly sanctioned its use in the synagogues
(Nov., 146). Its lack of style and violation of the laws of grammar were not due
to ignorance of Greek, of which the writer shows, in vocabulary at least, a considerable
command. Its importance lay and lies (so far as it is preserved) in its exact
reproduction of the rabbinical text of the 2nd century AD; it may be regarded
as the beginning of the scientific study of the Hebrew Scriptures. Though "a bold
attempt to displace the Septuagint," it cannot be charged with being intentionally
antagonistic to Christianity. Of the original work, previously known only from
extracts in manuscripts, some palimpsest fragments were recovered from the Cairo
Genizah in 1897 and edited by F. C. Burkitt (Fragments of the Books of Kings,
1897) and by C. Taylor (Sayings of the Jewish Fathers 2, 1897; Hebrew-Greek Cairo
Genizah Palimpsests, 1900). The student of Swete's Old Testament will trace Aquila's
unmistakable style in the footnotes to the Books of Samuel and Kings; the older
and shorter B text in those books has constantly been supplemented in the A text
from Aquila. A longer specimen of his work occurs in the Greek Ecclesiastes, which
has no claim to be regarded as "Septuagint"; Jerome refers to a second edition
of Aquila's version, and the Greek Ecclesiastes is perhaps his first edition of
that book, made on the basis of an unrevised Hebrew text (McNeile, Introduction
to Ecclesiastes, Cambridge, 1904, App. I). The suggested identification of Aquila
with Onkelos, author of the Targum of that name, has not been generally accepted.
Epiphanius' account of the dates and history of Theodotion and Symmachus is untrustworthy.
He seems to have reversed their order, probably misled by the order of the translations,
in the columns of the Hexapla (see below). He also apparently confused Aquila
and Theodotion in calling the latter a native of Pontus. As regards date, Theodotion,
critics are agreed, preceded Symmachus and probably flourished under M. Aurelius
(161-80), whereas Symmachus lived under Commodus (180-92); Irenaeus mentions only
the versions of Aquila and Theodotion, and that of Symmachus had in his day either
not been produced or at least not widely circulated. According to the more credible
account of Irenaeus, Theodotion was an Ephesian and a convert to Judaism. His
version constantly agrees with the Septuagint and was rather a revision of it,
to bring it into accord with the current Hebrew text, than an independent work.
The supplementing of lacunae in the Septuagint (due partly to the fact that the
older version of some books did not aim at completeness) gave scope for greater
originality. These lacunae were greatest in Job and his version of that book was
much longer than the Septuagint. The text of Job printed in Swete's edition is
a patchwork of old and new; the careful reader may detect the Theodotion portions
by transliterations and other peculiarities. Long extracts from Theodotion are
preserved in codex Q in Jeremiah. As regards the additional matter contained in
Septuagint, Theodotion was inconsistent; he admitted, e.g., the additions to Daniel
(Sus, Bel and the Dragon, and the Song of Three Children), but did not apparently
admit the non-canonical books as a whole. The church adopted his Daniel in place
of the inadequate Septuagint version, which has survived in only one Greek manuscript;
but the date when the change took place is unknown and the early history of the
two Greek texts is obscure. Theodotion's renderings have been found in writings
before his time (including the New Testament), and it is reasonably conjectured
that even before the 2nd century AD the Septuagint text had been discarded and
that Theodotion's version is but a working over of an older alternative version
Theodotion is free from the barbarisms of Aquila, but is addicted to transliteration,
i.e. the reproduction of Hebrew words in Greek letters: His reasons for this habit
are not always clear; ignorance of Hebrew will not account for all (compare VIII,
1, (5), below).
7. Symmachus and Others
Beside the two versions produced by, and primarily intended for, Jews was a third,
presumably to meet the needs of a Jewish Christian sect who were dissatisfied
with the Septuagint. Symmachus, its author, was, according to the more trustworthy
account, an Ebionite, who also wrote a commentary on Matthew, a copy of which
was given to Origen by Juliana, a lady who received it from its author (Euseb.,
HE, VI, 17). Epiphanius' description of him as a Samaritan convert to Judaism
may be rejected. The date of his work, as above stated, was probably the reign
of Commodus (180-192 AD). In one respect the version resembled Aquila's, in its
faithful adherence to the sense of the current Hebrew text; its style, however,
which was flowing and literary, was a revolt against Aquila's monstrosities. It
seems to have been a recasting of Aquila's version, with free use of both Septuagint
and Theodotion. It carried farther a tendency apparent in the Septuagint to refine
away the anthropomorphisms of the Old Testament. Of three other manuscripts discovered
by Origen (one at Nicopolis in Greece, one at Jericho) and known from their position
in the Hexapla as Quinta, Sexta, and Septima, little is known. There is no reason
to suppose that they embraced the whole Old Testament. Quinta is characterized
by Field as the most elegant of the Greek versions F.C. Burkitt has discussed
"the so-called Quinta of 4 Kings" in PSBA, June, 1902. The Christian origin of
Sexta betrays itself in Hab 3:13 ("Thou wentest forth to save thy people for the
sake of (or "by") Jesus thy anointed One").
8. Origen and the Hexapla
These later versions play a large part in the history of the text of the Septuagint.
This is due to the labors of the greatest Septuagint scholar of antiquity, the
celebrated Origen of Alexandria, whose active life covers the first half of the
3rd century. Origen frankly recognized, and wished Christians to recognize, the
merits of the later VSS, and the divergences between the Septuagint and the current
Hebrew. He determined to provide the church with the materials for ascertaining
the true text and meaning of the Old Testament. With this object he set himself
to learn Hebrew--a feat probably unprecedented among non-Jewish Christians of
that time--and to collect the later versions The idea of using these versions
to amend the Septuagint seemed to him an inspiration: "By the gift of God we found
a remedy for the divergence in the copies of the Old Testament, namely to use
the other editions as a criterion" (Commentary on Mt 15:14). The magnum opus in
which he embodied the results of his labors was known as the Hexapla or "six-column"
edition. This stupendous work has not survived; a fragment was discovered toward
the end of the 19th century in the Ambrosian Library at Milan (Swete, Introduction,
61 ff) and another among the Cairo Genizah palimpsests (ed C. Taylor, Cambridge,
1900). The material was arranged in six parallel columns containing
|(1) the current Hebrew text,
(2) the same in Greek letters,
(3) the version of Aquila,
(4) that of Symmachus,
(5) that of the Septuagint,
(6) that of Theodotion.
The text was broken up into short clauses; not more than two words, usually one
only, stood in the first column. The order of the columns doubtless represents
the degree of conformity to the Hebrew; Aquila's, as the most faithful, heads
the VSS, and Symmachus' is on the whole a revision of Aquila as Theodotion's is
of the Septuagint. But Origen was not content with merely collating the VSS; his
aim was to revise the Septuagint and the 5th column exhibited his revised text.
The basis of it was the current Alexandrian text of the 3rd century AD; this was
supplemented or corrected where necessary by the other versions Origen, however,
deprecated alteration of a text which had received ecclesiastical sanction, without
some indication of its extent, and the construction of the 5th column presented
| (1) numerous cases of words or paragraphs contained in
the Septuagint but not in the Hebrew, which could not be wholly rejected,
(2) cases of omission from the Septuagint of words in the Hebrew,
(3) cases of paraphrase and minor divergences,
(4) variations in the order of words or chapters.
Origen here had recourse to a system of critical signs, invented and employed
by the grammarian Aristarchus (3rd century BC) in his edition of Homer. Passages
of the first class were left in the text, but had prefixed to them an obelus,
a sign of which the original form was a "spit" or "spear," but figuring in Septuagint
manuscripts as a horizontal line usually with a dot above and a dot below; there
are other varieties also. The sign in Aristarchus indicated censure, in the Hexapla
the doubtful authority of the words which followed. The close of the obelized
passage was marked by the metobelus, a colon (:), or, in the Syriac VSS, shaped
like a mallet. Passages missing in the Septuagint were supplied from one of the
other versions (Aquila or Theodotion), the beginning of the extract being marked
by an asterisk--a sign used by Aristarchus to express special approval--the close,
by the metobelus. Where Septuagint and Hebrew widely diverged, Origen occasionally
gave two VSS, that of a later translator under an asterisk, that of Septuagint
obelized. Divergence in order was met by transposition, the Hebrew order being
followed; in Proverbs, however, the two texts kept their respective order, the
discrepancy being indicated by a combination of signs. Minor supposed or real
corruptions in the Greek were tacitly corrected. Origen produced a minor edition,
the Tetrapla, without the first two columns of the larger work. The Heptapla and
Octapla, occasionally mentioned, appear to be alternative names given to the Hexapla
at points where the number of columns was increased to receive other fragmentary
versions. This gigantic work, which according to a reasonable estimate must have
filled 5,000 leaves, was probably never copied in extenso. The original was preserved
for some centuries in the library of Pamphilus at Caesarea; there it was studied
by Jerome, and thither came owners of Biblical manuscripts to collate their copies
with it, as we learn from some interesting notes in our uncial manuscripts (e.g.
a 7th-century note appended to Esther in codex S). The Library probably perished
circa 638 AD, when Caesarea fell into the hands of the Saracens.
9. Hexaplaric Manuscripts
But, though the whole work was too vast to be copied, it was a simple task to
copy the 5th column. This task was performed, partly in prison, by Pamphilus,
a martyr in the Diocletian persecution, and his friend Eusebius, the great bishop
of Caesarea. Copies of the "Hexaplaric" Septuagint, i.e. Origen's doctored text
with the critical signs and perhaps occasional notes, were, through the initiative
of these two, widely circulated in Israel in the 4th century. Naturally, however,
the signs became unintelligible in a text detached from the parallel columns which
explained them; scribes neglected them, and copies of the doctored text, lacking
the precautionary symbols, were multiplied. This carelessness has wrought great
confusion; Origen is, through others' fault, indirectly responsible for the production
of manuscripts in which the current Septuagint text and the later versions are
hopelessly mixed. No manuscripts give the Hexaplaric text as a whole, and it is
preserved in a relatively pure form in very few: the uncials G and M (Pentatruch
and some historical books), the cursives 86 and 88 (Prophets). Other so-called
Hexaplaric manuscripts, notably codex Q (Marchalianus: Proph.) preserve fragments
of the 5th and of the other columns of the Hexapla. (For the Syro-Hexaplar see
below, VI, 1.) Yet, even did we possess the 5th column entire, with the complete
apparatus of signs, we should not have "the original Septuagint," but merely,
after removing the asterisked passages, a text current in the 3rd century. The
fact has to be emphasized that Origen's gigantic work was framed on erroneous
principles. He assumed (1) the purity of the current Hebrew text, (2) the corruption
of the current Septuagint text where it deviated from the Hebrew. The modern critic
recognizes that the Septuagint on the whole presents the older text, the divergences
of which from the Hebrew are largely attributable to an official revision of the
latter early in the Christian era. He recognizes also that in some books (e.g.
Job) the old Greek version was only a partial one. To reconstruct the original
text he must therefore have recourse to other auxiliaries beside Origen.
10. Recensions Known to Jerome
Such assistance is partly furnished by two other recensions made in the century
after Origen. Jerome (Praef. in Paralipp.; compare Adv. Ruf., ii.27) states that
in the 4th century three recensions circulated in different parts of the Christian
world: "Alexandria and Egypt in their Septuagint acclaim Hesychius as their authority,
the region from Constantinople to Antioch approves the copies of Lucian the martyr,
the intermediate Palestinian provinces read the manuscripts which were promulgated
by Eusebius and Pamphilus on the basis of Origen's labors, and the whole world
is divided between these three varieties of text."
11. Hesychian Recension
Hesychius is probably to be identified with the martyr bishop mentioned by Eusebius
(Historia Ecclesiastica, VIII, 13) along with another scholar martyr, Phileas
bishop of Thmuis, and it is thought that these two were engaged in prison in revising
the Egyptian text at the time when Pamphilus and Eusebius were employed on a similar
task under similar conditions. How far existing manuscripts preserve the Hesychian
recension is uncertain; agreement of their text with that of Egyptian versions
and Fathers (Cyril in particular) is the criterion. For the Prophets Ceriani has
identified codex Q and its kin as Hesychian. For the Octateuch N. McLean (JTS,
II, 306) finds the Hesychian text in a group of cursives, 44, 74, 76, 84, 106,
134, etc. But the first installments of the larger Cambridge Septuagint raise
the question whether Codex B (Vaticanus) may not itself be Hesychian; its text
is more closely allied to that of Cyril Alex. than to any other patristic text,
and the consensus of these two witnesses against the rest is sometimes (Ex 32:14)
curiously striking. In the Psalter also Rahlfs (Septuaginta-Studien, 2. Heft,
1907, 235) traces the Hesychian text in B and partially in Codex Sinaiticus. Compare
von Soden's theory for the New Testament. See TEXT AND MANUSCRIPTS OF THE NEW
12. Lucianic Recension
The Lucianic recension was the work of another martyr, Lucian of Antioch (died
311-12), probably with the collaboration of the Hebraist Dorotheus. There are,
as Hort has shown, reasons for associating Lucian with a "Syrian" revision of
the New Testament in the 4th century, which became the dominant type of text.
That he produced a Syrian recension of the Greek Old Testament is expressly stated
by Jerome, and we are moreover able with considerable certainty to identify the
extant manuscripts which exhibit it. The identification, due to Field and Lagarde,
rests on these grounds:
|(1) certain verses in 2 Kings are in the Arabic Syro-Hexaplar
marked with the letter L, and a note explains that the letter indicates Lucianic
(2) the readings so marked occur in the cursives 19, 82, 93, 108, 118;
(3) these manuscripts in the historical books agree with the Septuagint citations
of the Antiochene Fathers Chrysostom and Theodoret.
This clue enabled Lagarde to construct a Lucianic text of the historical books
(Librorum Vet. Test. canonic. pars prior, Gottingen, 1883); his death prevented
the completion of the work. Lagarde's edition is vitiated by the fact that he
does not quote the readings of the individual manuscripts composing the group,
and it can be regarded only as an approximate reconstruction of "Lucian." It is
evident, however, that the Lucianic Septuagint possessed much the same qualities
as the Syrian revision of the New Testament; lucidity and completeness were the
main objects. It is a "full" text, the outcome of a desire to include, so far
as possible, all recorded matter; "doublets" are consequently numerous. While
this "conflation" of texts detracts from its value, the Lucianic revision gains
importance from the fact that the sources from which it gleaned include an element
of great antiquity which needs to be disengaged; where it unites with the Old
Latin version against all other authorities its evidence is invaluable.
VI. RECONSTRUCTION OF SEPTUAGINT TEXT; VERSIONS, MANUSCRIPTS AND PRINTED EDITIONS
The task of restoring the original text is beset with difficulties. The materials
(MSS, VSS, patristic citations) are abundant, but none has escaped "mixture,"
and the principles for reconstruction are not yet securely established (Swete,
Introduction, I, iv-vi; III, vi).
1. Ancient Versions Made from Septuagint
Among the chief aids to restoration are the daughter versions made from the Septuagint,
and above all the Old Latin (pre-Hieronymian) version, for the earliest (African)
Old Latin version dates from the 2nd century AD, i.e. before Origen, and contains
a text from which the asterisked passages in Hexaplaric manuscripts are absent;
it thus "brings us the best independent proof we have that the Hexaplar signs
introduced by Origen can be relied on for the reconstruction of the LXX" (Burkitt).
The Old Latin also enables us to recognize the ancient element in the Lucianic
recension. But the Latin evidence itself is by no means unanimous. Augustine (De
Doctr. Christ., ii.16) speaks of the infinite variety of Latin VSS; though they
may ultimately prove all to fall into two main families, African and European.
Peter Sabatier's collection of patristic quotations from the Old Latin is still
useful, though needing verification by recent editions of the Fathers. Of Old
Latin manuscripts one of the most important is the codex Lugdunensis, edited by
U. Robert (Pentateuchi e codex Lugd. versio Latin antiquissima, Paris, 1881; Heptateuchi
partis post. versio Latin antiq. e codex Lugd., Lyons, 1900). The student should
consult also Burkitt's edition of The Rules of Tyconius ("Texts and Studies,"
III, 1, Cambridge, 1894) and The Old Latin and the Itala (ibid., IV, 3, 1896).
Jerome's Vulgate is mainly a direct translation from the Hebrew, but the Vulgate
(Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Psalter, the so-called Gallican, is one of
Jerome's two revisions of the Old Latin, not his later version from the Hebrew,
and some details in our Prayer-book Psalter are ultimately derived through the
Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Psalter from the Septuagint. Parts
of the Apocrypha (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees) are also
pure Old Latin, untouched by Jerome. The early date (2nd century AD) once claimed
for the Egyptian or Coptic versions (Bohairic, i.e. in the dialect of Lower Egypt,
Sahidic or Upper Egyptian and Middle Egyptian) has not been confirmed by later
researches, at least as regards the first-named, which is probably not earlier
than the 3rd or 4th century AD. Rahlfs (Sept-Studien, II, 1907) identifies the
Bohairic Psalter as the Hesychian recension. The Sahidic version of Job has fortunately
preserved the shorter text lacking the later insertions from Theodotion (Lagarde,
Mittheilungen, 1884, 204); this does not conclusively prove that it is pre-Origenic;
it may be merely a Hexaplaric text with the asterisked passages omitted (Burkitt,
EB, IV, 5027). The influence bf the Hexapla is traceable elsewhere in this version.
The Ethiopic version was made in the main from the Greek and in part at least
from an early text; Rahlfs (Sept. Stud., I, 1904) considers its text of S-K, with
that of codex B, to be pre-Origenic.
The Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) or Peshitta Syriac version was
made from the Hebrew, though partly influenced by the Septuagint. But another
Syriac version is of primary importance for the Septuagint text, namely, that
of Paul, bishop of Tella (Constantine in Mesopotamia), executed at Alexandria
in 616-17 and known as the Syro-Hexaplar. This is a bald Syriac version of the
Septuagint column of the Hexapla, containing the Hexaplar signs. A manuscript
of the poetical and prophetical books is in the Ambrosian Library at Milan and
has been edited by Ceriani (Monumenta sacra et profana, 1874); fragments of the
historical books are also extant (Lagarde and Rahlfs, Bibliothecae Syriacae, Gottingen,
1892). This version supplements the Greek Hexaplaric manuscripts and is the principal
authority for Origen's text. For the original version of Daniel, which has survived
in only one late MS, the Syro-Hexaplar supplies a second and older authority of
The Armenian version (ascribed to the 5th century) also owes its value to its
extreme literalness; its text of the Octateuch is largely Hexaplaric.
A bare mention must suffice of the Arabic version (of which the prophetical and
poetical books, Job excluded, were rendered from the Septuagint); the fragments
of the Gothic version (made from the Lucianic recension), and the Slavonic (partly
from Septuagint, also Lucianic) and the Georgian versions.
For a full description of the Greek manuscripts see Swete, Introduction, I, chapter
V. They are divided according to their script (capitals or minuscules) into uncials
and cursives, the former ranging from the 4th century (four papyrus scraps go
back to the 3rd century; Nestle in Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische
Theologie und Kirche, XXIII, 208) to the 10th century AD, the latter from the
9th to the 16th century AD. Complete Bibles are few; the majority contain groups
of books only, such as the Pentateuch, Octateuch (Gen-Ruth), the later historical
books, the Psalter, the 3 or 5 "Solomonic" books, the Prophets (major, minor or
both). Uncials are commonly denoted by capital letters (in the edition of Holmes
and Parsons by Roman figures); cursives, of which over 300 are known, by Arabic
figures; in the larger Cambridge Septuagint the selected cursives are denoted
by small Roman letters.
The following are the chief uncials containing, or which once contained, the whole
|B (Vaticanus, at Rome, 4th century AD), adopted as the standard
text in all recent editions; Codex Sinaiticus, at Petersburg and Leipzig, 4th
century AD), discovered by Tischendorf in 1844 and subsequent years in Catherine's
Convent, Mt. Sinai;
A (Alexandrinus, British Museum, probably 5th century AD);
C (Ephraemi rescriptus, Paris, probably 5th century), a palimpsest, the older
Biblical matter underlying a medieval Greek text of works of Ephrem the Syrian.
For the Octateuch and historical books: D (Cottonianus, British Museum, probably
5th or 6th century), fragments of an illuminated Gen, the bulk of which perished
in a fire at Ashburnham House in 1731, but earlier collations of Grabe and others
are extant, which for the lost portions are cited in the Cambridge texts as D
(Dsil, i.e. silet Grabius, denotes an inference from Grabe's silence that the
manuscript did not contain a variant);
F (Ambro-sianus, Milan, 4th to 5th century), fragments of the Octateuch;
G (Sarravianus, fragments at Leyden, Paris and Petersburg, 4th to 5th century),
important as containing an Origenic text with the Hexaplar signs;
L (Purpureus Vindobonensis, Vienna, 5th to 6th century), fragments of an illuminated
manuscript Genesis on purple vellum;
M (Coislinianus, Paris, 7th century), important on account of its marginal Hexaplaric
For the Prophets, Q (Marchalianus, Rome, 6th century) is valuable, both for its
text, which is "Hesychian" (see above), and for its abundant marginal Hexaplaric
A curious mixture of uncial and cursive writing occurs in E (Bodleianus, probably
10th century), fragments of the historical books (to 3 R 16 28) preserved at Oxford,
Cambridge (1 leaf), Petersburg and London; Tischendorf, who brought the manuscript
from the East, retained the tell-tale Cambridge leaf, on which the transition
from uncial to cursive script occurs, until his death.
The long-concealed fact that the scattered fragments were part of a single manuscript
came to light through Swete's identification of the Cambridge leaf as a continuation
of the Bodleian fragment. Many of the cursives still await investigation, as do
also the lectionaries. The latter, though the manuscripts are mainly late, should
repay study. The use of the Septuagint for lectionary purposes was inherited by
the church from the synagogue, and the course of lessons may partly represent
an old system; light may also be expected from them on the local distribution
of various types of text.
3. Printed Texts
Of the printed text the first four editions were
|(1) the Complutensian Polyglot of Cardinal Ximenes, 1514-17,
comprising the Greek, Hebrew and Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.)
texts, the last in the middle place of honor being compared to Jesus in the midst
between the two thieves (!). The Greek was based on manuscripts from the Vatican
and one from Venice; it exhibits on the whole the Lucianic recension, as the Hesychian
is by a curious coincidence represented in
(2) the Aldine edition of 1518, based on Venetian manuscripts.
(3) The monumental Sixtine edition, published at Rome in 1586 under the auspices
of Pope Sixtus V and frequently reprinted, was mainly based on the codex Vaticanus,
the superiority of which text is justly recognized in the interesting preface
(printed in Swete's Intro).
(4) The English edition (Oxford, 1707-20) begun by Grabe (died 1712) was based
on the codex Alexandrinus, with aid from other manuscripts, and had the peculiarity
that he employed Origen's critical signs and different sizes of type to show the
divergence between the Greek and the Hebrew.
Of more recent editions three are preeminent.
|5) The great Oxford edition of Holmes and Parsons (Oxford,
1798-1827, 5 volumes, folio) was the first attempt to bring together in a gigantic
apparatus criticus all the evidence of uncial and cursire manuscripts (upward
of 300), versions and early Citations from Philo and Josephus onward. As a monumental
storehouse of materials "H. and P." will not be wholly superseded by the latest
edition now (1913) in preparation.
(6) The serviceable Cambridge "manual," edition of Swete (lst edition 1887-94,
edition 3, 1901-7, 3 volumes, 8vo), is in the hands of all serious Septuagint
students. The text is that of B, or (where B fails) of A, and the apparatus contains
the readings of the principal uncial manuscripts. New materials discovered since
the edition of H. and P., especially codex S, are employed, and greater accuracy
in the presentation of the other evidence has been made possible by photography.
The fact that the text here printed is but a provisional one is sometimes overlooked.
Swete's edition was designed as a precursor to
(7) the larger Cambridge Septuagint, of which three installments embracing the
Pentateuch have (1913) appeared (The Old Testament in Greek, edition A.E. Brooke
and N. McLean, Cambridge, 1911 pt. III. Numbers and Deuteronomy). The text is
a reprint of Swete's except that from Ex onward a few alterations of errors in
the primary manuscript have been corrected, a delicate task in which the editors
have rejected a few old readings without sufficient regard to the peculiarities
of Hellenistic Greek. The importance of the work lies in its apparatus, which
presents the readings of all the uncials, versions and early citations, and those
of a careful representative selection of the cursives. The materials of H (Law
of Holiness, Lev. 17 through 26) and P (the Priestly Code) are brought up to date
and presented in a more reliable and convenient form.
Besides these there is
(8) Lagarde's reconstruction of the Lucianic recension of the historical books,
which, as stated, must be used with caution (see above)
4. Reconstruction of Original Text
The task of reconstructing the Oldest text is still unaccomplished. Materials
have accumulated, and much preliminary "spade-work" has been done, by Lagarde
in particular (see his "axioms" in Swete, Introduction, 484, ff) and more recently
by Nestle and Rahlfs; but the principles which the editor must follow are not
yet finally determined. The extent to which "mixture" has affected the documents
is the stumbling-block. Clearly no single Moabite Stone presents the oldest text.
That of codex B, as in the New Testament, is on the whole the purest. In the 4
books of "Reigns" (1 Samuel through 2 Kings), e.g., it has escaped the grosser
interpolations found in most manuscripts, and Rahlfs (Sept.-Studien, I, 1904)
regards its text as pre-Origenic. It is, however, of unequal value and by no means
an infallible guide; in Judges, e.g., its text is undoubtedly late, no earlier
than the 4th century AD, according to one authority (Moore," Jgs," ICC). In relation
to two of the 4th-century recensions its text is neutral, neither predominantly
Lucianic nor Hexaplaric; but it has been regarded by some authorities as Hesychian.
Possibly the recension made in the country which produced the Septuagint adhered
more closely than others to the primitive text; some "Hesychian" features in the
B text may prove to be original. Still even its purest portions contain marks
of editorial revision and patent corruptions. Codex Alexandrinus presents a quite
different type of text, approximating to that of the Massoretic Text. In the books
of "Reigns" it is practically a Hexaplaric text without the critical signs, the
additional matter being mainly derived from Aquila. Yet that it contains an ancient
element is shown by the large support given to its readings by the New Testament
and early Christian writers. Individual manuscripts must give place to groups.
In order to reconstruct the texts current before Origen's time, it is necessary
to isolate the groups containing the three 4th-century recensions, and to eliminate
from the recensions thus recovered all Hexaplaric matter and such changes as appear
to have been introduced by the authors of those recensions. Other groups brought
to light by the larger Cambridge text have also to be taken into account. The
attempt to Renetrate into the earlier stages of the history is the hardest task.
The Old Latin version is here the surest guide; it has preserved readings which
have disappeared from all Greek manuscripts, and affords a criterion as to the
relative antiquity of the Greek variants. The evidence of early Christian and
Jewish citations is also valuable. Ultimately, after elimination of all readings
proved to be "recensional" or late, the decision between outstanding variants
must depend on internal evidence. These variants will fall into two classes: (1)
those merely affecting the Greek text, by far the larger number and presenting
less difficulty; (2) those which imply a different Hebrew text. In adjudicating
on the latter Lagarde's main axioms have to be borne in mind, that a free translation
is to be preferred to a slavishly literal one, and a translation presupposing
another Hebrew original to one based on the Massoretic Text.
VII. NUMBER, TITLES AND ORDER OF BOOKS
In addition to the Hebrew canonical books, the Septuagint includes all the books
in the English Apocrypha except 2 Esdras (The Prayer of Manasseh only finds a
place among the canticles appended in some manuscripts to the Psalms) besides
a 3rd and 4th book of Maccabees. Swete further includes in his text as an appendix
of Greek books on the borderland of canonicity the Ps of Sol (found in some cursives
and mentioned in the list in codex A), the Greek fragments of the Book of Enoch
and the ecclesiastical canticles above mentioned. Early Christian writers in quoting
freely from these additional books as Scripture doubtless perpetuate a tradition
inherited from the Jews of Alexandria. Most of the books being original Greek
compositions were ipso facto excluded from a place in the Hebrew Canon. Greater
latitude as regards canonicity prevailed at Alexandria; the Pentateuch occupied
a place apart, but as regards later books no very sharp line of demarcation between
"canonical" and "uncanonical" appears to have been drawn.
Palestinian Jews employed the first word or words of each book of the Pentateuch
to serve as its title; Genesis e.g. was denoted "in the beginning," Exodus "(and
these are the) names"; a few of the later books have similar titles. It is to
the Septuagint, through the medium of the Latin VSS, that we owe the familiar
descriptive titles, mostly suggested by phrases in the Greek version. In some
books there are traces of rival titles in the Ptolemaic age. Exodus ("outgoing")
is also called Exagoge ("leading out") by Philo and by the Hellenist Ezekiel who
gave that name to his drama on the deliverance from Egypt. Philo has also alternative
names for Deuteronomy--Epinomis ("after-law") borrowed from the title of a pseudo-Platonic
treatise, and for Judgess "the Book of Judgments." The last title resembles the
Alexandrian name for the books of Samuel and Kings, namely, the four Books of
Kingdoms or rather Reigns; the name may have been given in the first place to
a partial version including only the reigns of the first few monarchs. Jerome's
influence in this case restored the old Hebrew names as also in Chronicles (=
Hebrew "Words of Days," "Diaries"), which in the Septuagint is entitled Paraleipomena,
"omissions," as being a supplement to the Books of Reigns.
3. Bipartition of Books
Another innovation, due apparently to the Greek translators or later editors,
was the breaking up of some of the long historical narratives into volumes of
more manageable compass. In the Hebrew manuscripts, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles,
Ezra-Nehemiah form respectively one book apiece. In the Septuagint the first three
of these collections are subdivided into two volumes as in modern Bibles; an acquaintance
with the other arrangement is, however, indicated in Codex B by the insertion
at the end of 1 R, 3 R, 1 Chronicles of the first sentence of the succeeding book,
a reminder to the reader that a continuation is to follow. Ezra-Nehemiah, the
Greek version (2 Esdras) being made under the influence of Palestinian tradition,
remains undivided. Originally Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah formed a unit, as was apparently
still the case when the oldest Greek version (1 Esdras) was made.
4. Grouping and Order of Books
In the arrangement of books there is a radical departure from Palestinian practice.
There were three main unalterable divisions in the Hebrew Bible, representing
three stages in the formation of the Canon: Law, Prohets "Former" i.e. Joshua,
Judges, Samuel, Kings, and "Latter") and "Writings." This arrangement was known
at Alexandria at the end of the 2nd century BC (Sir, prol.) but was not followed.
The "Writings" were a miscellaneous collection of history and poetry with one
prophetical book (Daniel). Alexandrian scholars introduced a more literary and
symmetrical system, bringing together the books of each class and arranging them
with some regard to the supposed chronological order of their authors. The Law,
long before the Greek translation, had secured a position of supreme sanctity;
this group was left undisturbed, it kept its precedence and the individual books
their order (Leviticus and Numbers, however, exchange places in a few lists).
The other two groups are broken up. Ruth is removed from the "Writings" and attached
to Judges. Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah are similarly transferred to the end of
the historical group. This group, from chronological considerations, is followed
by the poetical and other "Writings," the Prophets coming last (so in Codex Vaticanus,
etc.; in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, prophets precede poets). The
internal order of the Greek Hagiographa, which includes quasi-historical (Esther,
Tobit, Judith) and Wisdom books, is variable. Daniel now first finds a place among
the Prophets. The 12 minor prophets usually precede the major (Codex Sinaiticus
and Western authorities give the four precedence), and the order of the first
half of their company is shuffled, apparently on chronological grounds, Hosea
being followed by Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Jeremiah has his train of
satellites, Baruch, Lamentation (transferred from the "Writings") and Epistle
of Jeremiah; Susanna and Bel and the Dragon consort with and form integral parts
of Daniel. Variation in the order of books is partly attributable to the practice
of writing each book on a separate papyrus roll, kept in a cylindrical case; rolls
containing kindred matter would tend to be placed in the same case, but there
would be no fixed order for these separate items until the copying of large groups
in book-form came into vogue (Swete, Introduction, 225 f, 229 f).
VIII. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VERSION AND ITS COMPONENT PARTS
Notwithstanding the uncertain state of the text, some general characteristics
of the version are patent. It is clear that, like the Hebrew itself, it is not
a single book, but a library. It is a series of versions and Greek compositions
covering well-nigh 400 years, since it includes a few productions of the 2nd century
AD; the bulk of the translations, however, fall within the first half of the period
1. Grouping of Books on Internal Evidence
The translations may be grouped and their chronological order approximately determined
from certain characteristics of their style. (1) We may inquire how a Hebrew word
or phrase is rendered in different parts of the work. Diversity of renderings
is not an infallible proof that different hands have been employed, since invariable
uniformity in translation is difficult of attainment and indeed was not the aim
of the Pentateuch translators, who seem rather to have studied variety of expression.
If, however, a Hebrew word is consistently rendered by one Greek word in one portion
and by another elsewhere, and if each of the two portions has other features peculiar
to itself, it becomes highly probable that the two portions are the work of different
schools. Among "test-words" which yield results of this kind are "servant" in
"Moses the servant of the Lord," "Hosts" in "Lord of Hosts," "Philistines" (Swete,
Introduction, 317 f; Thackeray, Grammar of the Old Testament, 7 ff). (2) We may
compare the Greek with that of dated documents of the Ptolemaic age. The translations
were written in the koine or "common" Greek, most of them in the vernacular variety
of it, during a period when this new cosmopolitan language was in the making;
the abundant dated papyri enable us to trace some stages in its evolution. The
Petrie and Hibeh papyri of the 3rd century BC afford the closest parallels to
the Greek Pentateuch. The following century witnessed a considerable development
or "degeneracy" in the language, of which traces may be found in the Greek of
the prophetical books. Beside the vernacular Greek was the literary language of
the "Atticistic" school which persistently struggled, with indifferent success,
to recover the literary flavor of the old Greek masterpieces. This style is represented
in the Septuagint by most of the original Greek writings and by the paraphrases
of some of the "Writings." (3) We may compare the Greek books as translations,
noting in which books Iicense is allowed and which adhere strictly to the Hebrew.
The general movement is in the direction of greater literalism; the later books
show an increasing reverence for the letter of Scripture, resulting in the production
of pedantically literal VSS; the tendency culminated in the 2nd century AD in
the barbarisms of Aquila. Some of the "Writings" were freely handled, because
they had not yet obtained canonical rank at the time of translation. Investigation
on these lines goes to show that the order of the translation was approximately
that of the Hebrew Canon. The Greek Hexateuch may be placed in the 3rd century
BC, the Prophets mainly in the 2nd century BC, the "Writings" mainly in the 2nd
and 1st centuries BC.
(1) The Hexateuch
The Greek Pentateuch should undoubtedly be regarded as a unit: the Aristeas story
may so far be credited. It is distinguished by a uniformly high level of the "common"
vernacular style, combined with faithfulness to the Hebrew, rarely lapsing into
literalism. It set the standard which later translators tried to imitate. The
text was more securely established in this portion and substantial variant readings
are comparatively few. The latter part of Exodus is an exception; the Hebrew had
here not reached its final form in the 3rd century BC, and there is some reason
for thinking that the version is not the work of the translator of the first half.
In Deuteronomy a few new features in vocabulary appear (e.g. ekklesia; see Hort,
Christian Ecclesia, 4 ff). The Greek version of Josephus forms a link between
the Pentateuch and the later historical books. The text was not yet fixed, and
variants are more abundant than in the Pentateuch. The earliest VS, probably of
selections only, appears from certain common features to have been nearly coeval
with that of the Law.
(2) The "Latter" Prophets
There is little doubt that the next books to be translated were the Prophets in
the narrower sense, and that Isaiah came first. The style of the Greek Isaiah
has a close similarity, not wholly attributable to imitation, to that of the Pentateuch:
a certain freedom of treatment connects it with the earlier translation period:
it was known to the author of Wisdom (Isaiah 3:10 with Ottley's note). The translation
shows "obvious signs of incompetence" (Swete), but the task was an exacting one.
The local Egyptian coloring in the translation is interesting (R. R. Ottley, Book
of Isaiah according to the Septuagint, 2 volumes, Greek text of A, translation
and notes, Cambridge, 1904-6, with review in JTS, X, 299). Jeremiah, Ezekiel and
the Minor Prophets were probably translated en bloc or nearly so. The Palestinian
Canon had now been enlarged by a second group of Scriptures and this stimulated
a desire among Alexandrian Jews to possess the entire collection of the Prophets
in Greek. The undertaking seems to have been a formal and quasi-official one,
not a haphazard growth. For it has been ascertained that Jeremiah and Ezekiel
were divided for translation purposes into two nearly equal parts; a change in
the Greek style occurs at the junctures. In Jeremiah the break occurs in chapter
29 Septuagint order); the clearest criterion of the two styles is the twofold
rendering of "Thus saith the Lord." The last chapter (Jeremiah 52) is probably
a later addition in the Greek. The translator of the second half of Jeremiah also
translated the first half of Baruch (Jeremiah 1:1 - 3:8); he was incompetent and
his work, if our text may be relied on, affords flagrant examples of Greek words
being selected to render words which he did not understand merely because of their
similar sound. Ezekiel is similarly divided, but here the translator of the first
half (chapters 1 through 27) undertook the difficult last quarter as well (chapters
40 through 48), the remainder being left to a second worker. An outstanding test
is afforded by the renderings of the refrain, "They shall know that I am the Lord."
The Greek version of "the twelve" shows no trace of a similar division; in its
style it is closely akin to the first half of Ezekiel and is perhaps by the same
hand (JTS, IV, 245, 398, 578). But this official version of the Prophets had probably
been preceded by versions of short passages selected to be read on the festivals
in the synagogues. Lectionary requirements occasioned the earliest versions of
the Prophets, possibly of the Pentateuch as well. Two indications of this have
been traced. There exists in four manuscripts a Greek version of the Psalm of
Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3), a chapter which has been a Jewish lesson for Pentecost
from the earliest times, independent of and apparently older than the Septuagint
and made for synagogue use. Similarly in Ezekiel of the Septuagint there is a
section of sixteen verses (Ezekiel 36:24 - 38) with a style quite distinct from
that of its context. This passage was also an early Christian lesson for Pentecost,
and its lectionary use was inherited from Judaism. Here the Septuagint translators
seem to have incorporated the older version, whereas in Habakkuk 3 they rejected
it (JTS, XII, 191; IV, 407).
(3) Partial Version of the "Former" Prophets
The Greek style indicates that the history of the monarchy was not all translated
at once. Ulfilas is said to have omitted these books from the Gothic version as
likely to inflame the military temper of his race; for another reason the Greek
translators were at first content with a partial version. They omitted as unedifying
the more disastrous portions, David's sin with the subsequent calamities of his
reign and the later history of the divided monarchy culminating in the captivity.
Probably the earliest versions embraced only (1) 1 R, (2) 2 R 1 1 through 11 1
(David's early reign), (3) 3 R 2 12 through 21 13 (Solomon and the beginning of
the divided monarchy); the third book of "Reigns" opened with the accession of
Solomon (as in Lucian's text), not at the point where 1 Kings opens. These earlier
portions are written in a freer style than the rest of the Greek "Reigns," and
the Hebrew original differed widely in places from that translated in the English
Bible (JTS, VIII, 262).
(4) The "Writings"
The Hagiographa at the end of the 2nd century BC were regarded as national literature.
(Sirach, prolegomena "the other books of our fathers"), but not as canonical.
The translators did not scruple to treat these with great freedom, undeterred
by the prohibition against alteration of Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2 ; 12:32).
Free paraphrases of extracts were produced, sometimes with legendary additions.
A partial version of Job (one-sixth being omitted) was among the first; Aristeas,
the historian of the 2nd century BC, seems to have been acquainted with it (Freudenthal,
Hellenistische Studien, 1875, 136 ff). The translator was a student of the Greek
poets; his version was probably produced for the general reader, not for the synagogues.
Hatch's theory (Essays in Biblical Greek, 1889, 214) that his Hebrew text was
shorter than ours and was expanded later is untenable; avoidance of anthropomorphisms
explains some omissions, the reason for others is obscure. The first Greek narrative
of the return from exile (1 Esdras) was probably a similar version of extracts
only from Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah, grouped round a fable of non-Jewish origin,
the story of the 3 youths at the court of Darius. The work is a fragment, the
end being lost, and it has been contended by some critics that the version once
embraced the whole of Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah (C. C. Torrey, Ezra Studies, Chicago,
1910). The Greek is obviously earlier than Esdras B and is of great value for
the reconstruction of the Hebrew. The same translator appears from peculiarities
of diction to have produced the earliest version of Dnl, treating it with similar
freedom and incorporating extraneous matter (the Song of Three Children, Susanna,
Bel). The maximum of interpolation is reached in Esther, where the Greek additions
make up two-thirds of the story. The Greek Proverbs (probably 1st century BC)
includes many maxims not in the Hebrew; some of these appear to be derived from
a lost Hebrew collection, others are of purely Greek origin. This translator also
knew and imitated the Greek classics; the numerous fragments of iambic and hexameter
verse in the translation cannot be accidental (JTS, XIII, 46). The Psalter is
the one translation in this category in which liberties have not been taken; in
Psalms 13 (14):3 the extracts from other parts of Psalms and from Isaiah included
in the B text must be an interpolation possibly made before Paul's time (Romans
3:13 ff), or else taken from Romans. The little Psalms 151 in Septuagint, described
in the title as an "autograph" work of David and as "outside the number," is clearly
a late Greek production, perhaps an appendix added after the version was complete.
(5) The Latest Septuagint Translations
The latest versions included in the Septuagint are the productions of the Jewish
translators of the 2nd century AD; some books may be rather earlier, the work
of pioneers in the new school which advocated strict adherence to the Hebrew.
The books of "Reigns" were now completed, by Theodotion, perhaps, or by one of
his school; the later portions (2 R 11 2 through 3 R 2 11, David's downfall, and
3 R 22-4 R end, the downfall of the monarchy) are by one hand, as shown by peculiarities
in style, e.g. "I am have with child" (2 R 11 5) = "I am with child," a use which
is due to desire to distinguish the longer form of the pronoun 'anokhi ("I," also
used for "I am") from the shorter 'ani. A complete version of Jdg was now probably
first made. In two cases the old paraphrastic versions were replaced. Theodotion's
Daniel, as above stated, superseded in the Christian church the older version
A new and complete version of Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah was made (Esdras B), though
the older version retained its place in the Greek Bible on account of the interesting
legend imbedded in it; the new version is here again possibly the work of Theodotion;
the numerous transliterations are characteristic of him (Torrey, Ezra Studies;
theory had previously been advanced by Sir H. Howorth). In the Greek Ecclesiastes
we have a specimen of Aquila's style (see McNeile's edition, Cambridge, 1904).
Canticles is another late version
2. General Characteristics
A marked feature of the whole translation is the scrupulous avoidance of anthropomorphisms
and phrases derogatory to the divine transcendence. Thus Exodus 4:16, "Thou shalt
be to him in things pertaining to God" (Hebrew "for" or "as God"); 15:3, "The
Lord is a breaker of battles" (Hebrew "a Man of war"); 24:10, "They saw the place
where the God of Israel stood" (Hebrew "they saw the God of Israel"); 24:11, "Of
the elect of Israel not one perished and they were seen in the place of God" (Hebrew
"Upon the nobles .... He laid not His hand, and they beheld God"). The comparison
of God to a rock was consistently paraphrased as idolatrous, as was sometimes
the comparison to the sun from fear of sun-worship (Psalms 83 (84):12, "The Lord
loves mercy and truth" for Hebrew "The Lord is a sun and shield"). "The sons of
God" (Genesis 6:2) becomes "the angels of God." For minor liberties, e.g. slight
amplifications, interpretation of difficult words, substitution of Greek for Hebrew
coinage, translation of place-names, see Swete, Introduction, 323 ff. Blunders
in translation are not uncommon, but the difficulties which these pioneers had
to face must be remembered, especially the paleographical character of the Hebrew
originals. These were written on flimsy papyrus rolls, in a script probably in
a transitional stage between the archaic and the later square characters; the
words were not separated, and there were no vowel-points; two of the radicals
(waw and yodh) were also frequently omitted. Add to this the absence at Alexandria,
for parts at least of the Scriptures, of any sound tradition as to the meaning.
On the other hand the vocalization adopted by the translators, e.g. in the proper
names, is of great value in the history of early Semitic pronunciation. It must
further be remembered that the Semitic language most familiar to them was not
Hebrew but Aramaic, and some mistakes are due to Aramaic or even Arabic colloquialisms
(Swete, Introduction, 319).
IX. SALIENT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE GREEK AND HEBREW TEXTS
Differences indicating a Hebrew original other than the Massoretic Text affect
either the sequence or the subject-matter (compare Swete, Introduction, 231 ff).
The most extensive discrepancies in arrangement of materials occur in (1) Exodus
35 through 39, the construction of the Tabernacle and the ornaments of its ministers,
(2) 3 R 4 through 11, Solomon's reign, (3) Jeremiah (last half), (4) Proverbs
|(1) In Exodus the Septuagint gives precedence to the priests'
ornaments, which in the Hebrew follow the account of the Tabernacle, and omits
altogether the altar of incense. The whole section describing the execution of
the instructions given in the previous chapters in almost identical words is one
of the latest portions of the Pentateuch and the text had clearly not been finally
fixed in the 3rd century BC; the section was perhaps absent from the oldest Greek
version In Exodus 20:13 - 15 Codex B arranges three of the commandments in the
Alexandrian order (7, 8, 6), attested in Philo and in the New Testament.
(2) Deliberate rearrangement has taken place in the history of Solomon, and the
Septuagint unquestionably preserves the older text. The narrative of the building
of the Temple, like that of the Tabernacle, contains some of the clearest examples
of editorial revision in the Massoretic Text (Wellhausen, Hist of Israel, 67,
280, etc.). At the end of 3 R Septuagint places chapters 20 and 21 in their proper
order; Massoretic Text reverses this, interposing the Naboth story in the connected
account of the Syriac wars and justifying the change by a short preface.
(3) In Jeremiah the chapter numbers differ from the middle of chapter 25 to the
end of chapter 51, the historical appendix (chapter 52) concluding both texts.
This is due to the different position assigned to a group of prophecies against
the nations: Septuagint places them in the center, Massoretic Text at the end.
The items in this group are also rearranged. The diversity in order is earlier
than the Greek translation; see JTS, IV; 245.
(4) The order of some groups of maxims at the end of Proverbs was not finally
fixed at the time of the Greek translation; like Jeremiah's prophecies against
the nations, these little groups seem to have circulated as late as the 2nd or
1st century BC as separate pamphlets. The Psalms numbers from 10 to 147 differ
by one in Septuagint and Massoretic Text, owing to discrepancies in the lines
of demarcation between individual psalms.
Excluding the end of Exodus, striking examples of divergence in the Pentateuch
are few. Septuagint alone preserves Cain's words to his brother, "Let us go into
the field" (Genesis 4:8). The close of Moses' song appears in an expanded form
in Septuagint (Deuteronomy 32:43). Similarly Hannah's song in 1 R 2 (? originally
a warrior's triumph-song) has been rendered more appropriate to the occasion by
the substitution in verse 8c of words about the answer to prayer, and enlarged
by the insertion of a passage from Jeremiah; the changes in both songs may be
connected with their early use as canticles. In Joshua the larger amount of divergence
suggests that this book did not share the peculiar sanctity of the Law. But the
books of "Reigns" present the widest differences and the fullest scope for the
textual critic. The Septuagint here proves the existence of two independent accounts
of certain events. Sometimes it incorporates both, while the Massoretic Text rejects
one of them; thus Septuagint gives (3 R 2 35a ff,46a ff) a connected summary of
events in Solomon's personal history; most of which appear elsewhere in a detached
form, 3 R 12 24a-z is a second account of the dismemberment of the kingdom; 16:28a-h
a second summary of Jehoshaphat's reign (compare 22 41 ff); 4 R 1 18a another
summary of Joram's reign (compare 3 1 ff). Conversely in 1 R 17 through 18, Massoretic
Text has apparently preserved two contradictory accounts of events in David's
early history, while Septuagint presents a shorter and consistent narrative (Swete,
Intro, 245 f). An "addition" in Septuagint of the highest interest appears in
3 R 8 53b, where a stanza is put into the mouth of Solomon at the Temple dedication,
taken from "the Song-book" (probably the Book of Jashar); the Massoretic Text
gives the stanza in an edited form earlier in the chapter (8 12 f); for the reconstruction
of the original Hebrew see JTS, X, 439; XI, 518. The last line proves to be a
title, "For the Sabbath--On Alamoth" (i.e. for sopranos), showing that the song
was set to music for liturgical purposes. In Jeremiah, besides transpositions,
the two texts differ widely in the way of excess and defect; the verdict of critics
is mainly in favor of the priority of the Septuagint (Streane, Double Text of
Jeremiah, 1896). For divergences in the "Writings" see VIII, above; for additional
titles to the Psalms see Swete, Introduction, 250 f.
The most important works have been mentioned in the body of the article. See,
further, the very full lists in Swete's Introduction and the bibliographies by
Nestle in PRE3, III, 1-24, and XXIII, 207-10 (1913); HDB, IV, 453-54.
H. St. J. Thackeray
70 writers legend, alexandrian version, bible commentary, bible reference, bible study, define, greek version old testament, history, hoi o', letter of aristeas, LXX, septuagint, septuaginta seniores