SEPTUAGINT (sĕp'tū-a-jĭnt). The first and most important of a number of ancient translations of the Hebrew OT into Greek. Little is certainly known about it, for our information is frequently based on ancient traditions of doubtful authenticity; and scholars are divided in their judgments concerning both its origin and its usefulness in textual criticism.
The story of the origin of the Septuagint is told in the Letter of Aristeas, a pseudepigraphical book written in the second half of the second century b.c. It states that Ptolemy II (called Philadelphus, the king of Egypt, 285-247) wished to have a translation of the Jewish law for his famous library in Alexandria. At his request the high priest Eleazer of Jerusalem sent seventy-two men, six from each tribe, to Egypt with a scroll of the Law. In seventy-two days they translated one section each from this scroll and afterward decided on the wording together. So the version was called the Septuagint (the translation of the seventy, abbreviated lxx). Later writers elaborated on this story to the effect that the seventy-two had translated the whole OT (not the Pentateuch only), each independently of the other, in seclusion. The exact agreement of the seventy-two copies proved the work’s inspiration.
What is the truth of this story? It is generally agreed that the Pentateuch was translated from Hebrew into Greek in Egypt around the time of Ptolemy II, ca. 280 b.c. The rest of the OT was done at a later date. Most scholars believe the whole to have been finished by 180, although some scholars (notably Kahle) disagree, believing that the LXX never contained more than the Pentateuch until the Christians took it over and added the rest of the OT books much later.
It seems most likely that the LXX originated not by the desire of Ptolemy II (although the project may have had his approval), but out of the need of the Alexandrian Jews. Alexandria of the third century b.c. was a large city with a great Jewish population. These Jews were Greek-speaking, having long since forgotten their own language. The vigorous Jewish intellectual life of Alexandria (exemplified by in a later century) would demand the Torah in Greek, just as an earlier generation of Jews made Targums of the OT in the Aramaic language.
The fact that the LXX was not made all at once is plain by the unevenness of its character. Some parts, e.g., the Pentateuch, are a rather literal and accurate translation of the Hebrew text. Other books, such as 1 and 2 Samuel, differ greatly from the Masoretic Text (our present Hebrew Bible). Recent finds at Qumran (“The”) include a Hebrew MS of Samuel whose text seems very close to the LXX of this book. The LXX Daniel was such a free paraphrase that it was set aside in favor of a later translation made by Theodotion. The LXX Jeremiah is one-seventh, and the LXX Job is about one-fourth shorter than the Masoretic Text. The LXX, then, is not one book, but a collection of translations of the OT produced by Jews of the Dispersion.
The LXX came to have great authority among the non-Palestinian Jews. Its use in the synagogues of the Dispersion made it one of the most important missionary aids. Probably it was the first work of substantial size ever to be translated into another language. Now the Greeks could read the divine revelation in their own tongue. When the NT quotes from the OT, as it frequently does, the form of the quotation often follows the LXX.
The early Christian church, built largely on converts from the synagogues of the Greek-speaking world, took over the LXX as their Bible. Their use of it, to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, caused a change in the Jews’ attitude toward it. Soon after a.d. 100 the Jews completely gave up the LXX, and it became a Christian book. The Jews sponsored new translations of the OT, those by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion being best known.
Our oldest copies of the LXX today are from the three great Greek MSS of the Bible from the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. —Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus. It is quite plain that these represent a LXX that has had a long textual history, and that it is now impossible to say to what extent these copies agree with the original translation made some six or seven hundred years before. Origen (died c. a.d. 250) sensed the problem of many divergent readings in the MSS in his day and sought to produce a resultant text in his Hexapla. The textual criticism of the LXX is a difficult task, on which the last word remains to be said.
The LXX is of use in two ways to biblical studies today:
1. It is a valuable witness to the understanding of the OT in pre-Christian days. As such it is frequently the originator of an exegetical tradition still followed. When, e.g., the majority of English Old Testaments render the covenant name for God (in Hebrew YHWH) by “Lord,” they are merely following the lead of the LXX, which rendered the word by the Greek kyrios—“Lord.” Another example of the LXX’s influence on subsequent translations is its rendering of the Hebrew ’ĕlōhîm (God) by angeloi, “angels,” e.g., in
2. The LXX is a very important tool for use in the science of textual criticism—the attempt to bring to light the original text of the Bible. In quite a few cases the Masoretic Text and the LXX do not agree. A person knowing neither of the original languages can sense the difference by comparing
The conventional name of the earliest translation of the OT into Greek (from Septuaginta, Lat. “seventy” = LXX). In the Letter of Aristeas (second century b.c.), it is alleged that seventy-two Jewish translators sent from Jerusalem produced the version for Ptolemy II (Philadelphos) for his library. This cannot be accepted as historically true, but it contains reliable indications, namely that the version is of third-century b.c. origin, was made in Egypt by companies of translators, but was a product of community needs rather than imperial request. The prologue to the Greek Ecclesiasticus shows that the whole canon was in Greek by 132 b.c., but it is clear on internal grounds that the translation was first made of the Pentateuch, and that Prophets and Writings were rendered later, in that order. Compared with the Hebrew OT there are a number of additional books and portions thereof in this corpus.
While modern scholarship appears to accept the concept of an “original text” (Urtext), it is clear from the materials available in Dead Sea fragments, quotations in NT, early Fathers, and others (e.g., Josephus), that a number of distinct local texts arose, in part by correction of paraphrastic renderings, in part for theological reasons, in part from different Hebrew bases. In the early Christian centuries, stimulated by controversy, several new translations were undertaken by Jews, giving a more literal rendering of a now standard text, close to the Massoretic (viz., by Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus), sometimes on the basis of the earlier local texts. In the early third century, Origen,* largely for controversial reasons, set out in six columns (Hexapla) the Hebrew text, a transliteration, the three Jewish translations, and the LXX with an apparatus of signs showing the divergences of the latter from the Hebrew in omission and addition. Ironically this work complicated the textual problem further by the contamination of other texts from this column.
In Antioch, in the late third or early fourth century, Lucian* produced a recension to some degree closer to the Hebrew. A third recension mentioned by Jerome, that of Hesychius, has proved impossible to identify. Modern research has identified in some books the R-recension transmitted in the catenae. Modern scholarship, based on some fine eighteenth-century antecedents, took its rise from Paul de Lagarde* and his pupil Alfred Rahlfs. Lagarde sought the Urtext; Rahlfs concentrated more upon the recensions. Their work has more recently been continued by M. Margolis and P. Katz (P. Walters). Two major publications are in progress: the larger Cambridge Septuagint, named “Brooke-MacLean” after its first editors; and the Goettingen Septuagint, whose first editor was J. Ziegler. The establishment of both the Urtext and the recensional forms is of great significance for the history of Hellenistic Judaism, early Christianity (for which the LXX was inspired Scripture), and the history of the Greek language.
H.B. Swete, An Introduction to thein Greek (1914); B.J. Roberts, The Old Testament text and versions (1951); P. Katz, “Septuagintal studies in the mid-century,” The Background of the and its eschatology (ed. Davies and Daube, 1956), chap. 10; S. Jellicoe, The Septuagint and modern study (1968); S. Talmon, “The Old Testament text,” CHB I (1970), chap. 7; P. Walters, The Text of the Septuagint (1972).
Origin, date and transmission.
The Septuagint is a tr. of the OT into Gr., along with certain additional books, some tr. into Gr. from Heb. in common with the rest of the collection, some originally composed in Gr. It is called “Septuagint” (Lat. septuaginta, meaning seventy—hence the familiar abbreviation in Rom. numerals, LXX) because of a tradition that the VS was the work of seventy (though some say seventy-two) Jewish elders, in the reign of the monarch Ptolemy II Philadelphus at Alexandria (284-247 b.c.).
Alexandria (q.v.) was the home of a major colony of the Jewish Dispersion, and indeed was considered its metropolis for a Jewish minority seemed to have found a resting place in Egypt since the days of Jeremiah, or perhaps even since the days of Shishak’s invasion of Pal. in the 10th cent. b.c. With the foundation of the Gr. city by Alexander, after whom it was named, in 331 b.c., this group of the Dispersion became coherent and numerous, and occupied the whole eastern part of the great port. Their strength grew with the city, and Alexandria rapidly became one of the great urban and maritime centers of the Mediterranean world, cosmopolitan, rich, the home of a remarkable Silver Age of Gr. lit., a center of scholarship, where men of learning found fellowship in the famous “Museum”; in short, one of those places of intellectual mingling and cross-fertilization which produced the world of the NT. In that world E and W fused to lay the foundations of modern Europe.
It was in this spiritual and mental context that the Hel. Jew first became a phenomenon of culture. In Alexandria the Jew of the Diaspora, proud of his Heb. heritage, conscious of his role in civilization, but emancipated from the weakening nationalism, exclusivism, and narrowness of metropolitan Jewry, found himself in challenging confrontation with the lit. and philosophy of the Greeks. The Alexandrian Jew spoke Gr., for such was a condition of citizenship. A knowledge of the Gr. lang. was a prerequisite of trade, business, and social intercourse. The Jew of Alexandria, like any Jew of Tarsus, was truly the intellectual citizen of two worlds of culture; hence the urge to tr. the Heb. Scriptures into their other tongue.
Hebrew was becoming a less familiar medium of communication to the Jews of Alexandria, almost an archaism of the synagogue. Added to the desire to exalt the wisdom and history of their own race, this was motive enough to inspire the undertaking. It was inevitable that legends should grow up about the origins of an achievement so remarkable. There is in existence a letter called the letter of Aristeas to Philocrates, around which a considerable lit. has arisen. It was first published in Lat. in a.d. 1471, and in a Gr. text ninety years later. The literary criticism of this document need not concern us. The writer, however, stated that he was a courtier of Ptolemy Philadelphus, a Gr. who was interested in the antiquities of the Jews. He wrote of a journey he had made recently to Jerusalem, with a specific purpose.
Demetrius Phalerius, librarian of the vast and famous library of Alexandria, says Aristeas had put before the monarch a proposal to add to the collection a tr. of “the Jewish laws.” The cultured Ptolemy fell in with the proposal, and sent an embassy to Jerusalem with a letter to Eleazar the high priest, requesting that six elders from each of the twelve tribes should be sent to Alexandria to execute the suggested tr. The seventy-two (who are named) duly arrived with a copy of the law written in letters of gold on rolls of skins. At a banquet the king tested the scholarship of his Heb. visitors with difficult questions, and appeared to have been satisfied. The trs. were provided with a satisfactory retreat on the island of Pharos, and Demetrius, the librarian, as Aristeas’ letter puts it, “exhorted them to accomplish the work of translation, since they were well supplied with all that they could want. So they set to work, comparing their results, and making them agree. And whatever they agreed upon was suitably copied under the direction of Demetrius....In this way the transcription was completed in seventy-two days, as if that period had been pre-arranged.”
The Jewish members of the community were delighted with the rendering, and asked for a copy. They pronounced an appropriate curse on any who might dare to take from the VS or add thereto. The king was equally pleased, and the LXX, thus born under dual blessing, was set in the library. Philo, the Jewish scholar of Alexandria, and later the Flavian Rom. Jew, Josephus, repeated the story, the latter’s testimony confirming the fact that Aristeas’ letter was current in Pal. toward the end of the 1st cent. a.d. Philo’s reference, on the other hand, may represent an Alexandrian tradition independent of the Aristeas document. He mentioned an annual festival of celebration on Pharos, a custom surely based on a standing tradition, and not dependent upon such a work as Aristeas’ letter. The evidence of another Alexandrian Jew, one Aristobulus, might even take the evidence back to the middle of the 2nd cent. b.c., to within a cent. of the alleged events.
Stripped of formalized and pseudo-miraculous details, the story of the origin of the LXX, somewhere in the middle decades of the 3rd cent. b.c., and as a direct result of royal policy, is not in any way incredible. Alexandria was a sophisticated literary society, and librarianship was born there. Aristeas’ letter approximates the truth, as H. B. Swete abundantly demonstrates (Introduction to the in Greek, 15ff.). The king was a bibliophile, ecumenical (he welcomed a Buddhist mission), a universal historian (the Gr. history of Egyp. institutions by Manetho was produced during his reign), and a shrewd enough politician to wish to conserve the good will of a large and dynamic section of his urban populace. The joy of the Alexandrian Jews at the appearance of the tr., added to this desire of the king to conciliate their good will, may, indeed, point to the real core of fact in the story. Greek, too, was a unifying force in a polyglot environment, and the Ptolemies inherited from Alexander himself some notion of internationalism. On the other hand, precarious though this argument may be, the Gr. of the LXX may be Egyp. rather than Palestinian in its linguistic coloring. In such case, the descent of the Jerusalem elders might be marked as a less reliable element in the story (Swete, op. cit., 20, 21). The alleged collation of results is patently untrue.
It is true that Aristeas’ letter refers specifically only to the Pentateuch, and that fact has been fastened upon by those who followed the now abandoned obsession to late-date, as far as possible, the books of the Bible. No responsible critic today would maintain that the OT Canon was not available for trs. by the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Concrete evidence for the presence of the books of the OT Canon in the Gr. VS is hardly to be expected, for it must be confessed that the VS did not make a wide impact upon Alexandrian lit. There are traces to be sure, some of them surprising (e.g., Mahaffy in his History of Greek Classical Literature, I.2.195 and Ram-say in his Cities of Saint Paul, 63-70), but the matter need not detain us. There is a shred of evidence from 132 b.c. that “the Law, the Prophets and the rest of the books” of the OT were current at the time (Swete, op. cit. p. 24), and some inconsiderable fragments of similar contemporary testimony exist, but the matter is largely of academic interest, and the supposition can hardly be denied that the LXX legend had the whole Heb. Canon in view.
From the 1st cent. of the Christian era, of course, evidence is abundant. Philo (30 b.c.a.d. 45) quotes most of the books of the canon, and the NT quotes all of the books except Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, the , and one or two minor prophets. As Philo says, the VS was received in Egypt with the same reverence accorded the original text. This was prob. true of the whole Hel. world, with the possible exception of Pal., seat of orthodox and metropolitan Jewry.
Fragments remain of later Gr. VSS, for when the LXX became an element in Judaeo-Christian controversy, it was inevitable that the discrepancies between the earlier text represented in the LXX, and the text which was currently used by later Jewry, should prompt attempts to provide Gr.-speaking Jews with a more reliable VS. The names of such scholars as Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus are associated with these surviving fragments. The history of such VSS, the scholarship which surrounded them, and their associated recensions, is an important ch. in patristic history, with ramifications embracing the Ethiopic, Arabic, Syriac, Gothic, Armenian, and Slavonic VSS of the Bible. The LXX itself exists in over 300 VSS, some of them coeval with the major ancient MSS of the NT with which they are associated. Printed VSS go back to the beginning of the 16th cent.
The survival of so solidly authenticated a Gr. text is a matter for considerable satisfaction, for Jerome’s Lat. Vul., rapidly accepted as the Bible of the ascendant Roman Church, was a blow to the survival of the Gr. VS. In Western Christendom, Lat. began to dominate Gr., and in thethe knowledge of Gr. became as rare as the knowledge of Heb. It was the Renaissance, and the revival of Gr. learning, with the fortunate survival, over a millennium of eclipse, of numerous and adequate MSS in the sequestered security of monastic libraries, which revived interest in the Bible of the writers of the Early Church. (R. R. Ottley tells the story well in his Handbook to the Septuagint . His 3rd ch. traces the story from the Renaissance to the present cent.)
Evaluation of the Septuagint.
The VS manifests considerable variety. The hands of separate trs. are to be detected, but dogmatism in such a sphere would be a highly hazardous exercise., in general, is a fair VS. In the historical books there is much uneven work, “tr. Greek,” and, in the case of 2 Kings, e.g., considerable evidence of inadequate Heb. scholarship. In 1 Kings, better though the Gr. itself undoubtedly is, the tr. is marred by pious interpolation, and paraphrases which reflect haste, ignorance, or carelessness, and sometimes all three. Perhaps amplification was more widely prevalent in contemporary Heb. scholarship than has been hitherto realized. Qumran texts might be quoted to support this view.
The Psalms represent a fair rendering of the MT, though the extent of revision and correction in a book principally used liturgically cannot, of course, be determined. Proverbs and Job, which could be the work of one tr., present a fair standard of Gr., but some odd variations of text. For example, one-sixth of the traditional Heb. VS of Job is missing, and must be supplied from Theod., in whose text the missing vv. are found. On the other hand, there is found an astonishing freedom in amplification in some passages. For example, here is 2:9, designed, as Swete puts it, “to heighten the effect, and at the same time to soften the harshness of the words uttered by Job’s wife” (p. 256, op. cit.).
9. And much time having elapsed, his wife said to him, How long wilt thou persist saying, Behold I will wait yet a little longer, in hope and expectation of my deliverance? For behold the memorial of thee—those sons and daughters, whom I brought forth with pangs and sorrow, and for whom I toiled in vain, are vanished from the earth; and thou thyself sittest among the putrefaction of worms, all night long in the open air, while I am wandering about, or working for wages, from place to place and from house to house, wishing for the setting of the sun, that I may rest from the labours and sorrows I endure. Do but say something for the Lord and die.
10. Whereupon he looking stedfastly at her said, Like one of the women without understanding hast thou spoken? If we have received good things at the hand of the Lord, shall we not bear up under afflictions? In all these things which befell him, Job transgressed not with his lips against God. (Thomson’s translation.)
It would appear that, while the LXX trs. treated the Pentateuch with traditional reverence, as a part to be rendered mainly for use in the worship of the synagogue, they approached the prophets “with a diminished sense of responsibility” (Swete’s phrase), and such books as Job, Esther, and Daniel with a freedom accorded works of a national lit., rather than with the reverence accorded a sacred text. It is suggested that the tr. of Job was an Alexandrian Hellenist who had an eye on the general public, rather than the devout reader of the Heb. Bible; hence, both reduction and expansion as his primary object dictated.
In Esther, interpolation lifts the 107 vv. of the surviving Heb. text to 270 vv., in additions spread through the book in sections of length comparable with the present chs. In Proverbs, possibly the work of the Hel. Jew who tr. Job, expansions are possibly the doublet versions of revisers who were not satisfied with the rendering before them. The heavily Hebraized text of Ecclesiastes is so marred by such unidiomatic tr. that it may have been almost incomprehensible to monolingual Greeks. Ezekiel is not well done, while Jeremiah renders a Heb. text quite at variance with the traditional one. The tr. of Isaiah is a very free one, similarly at variance with the MT.
In short, the LXX, besides manifesting those faults of carelessness, weariness, and ignorance common enough in tr., shows also attempts to correct an existing text which may be well- or ill-founded, deliberate tampering with the story, and a quite unusual freedom in interpolation, improvisation, and modification. It is an uneven tr., but a monument both of literary and historical endeavor, a social as well as a religious contribution to human history.
It remains under this heading to say a word about the Gr. of the LXX. It is not, of course, a unified phenomenon, for the LXX has none of that unity of style and language which is so remarkable a feature of the KJV, though the latter also must have been tr. by a varied group of men. The work of various hands, the LXX gives evidence of varied degrees of Heb. scholarship and different sensitivities to style. This is duly analyzed in Swete’s fine compilation of the raw materials of LXX scholarship, already several times quoted in this article.
It will be sufficient to make some general remarks. The common dialect, found in the papyri of Egypt, shows that the NT is in many ways a monument of that colloquial speech which formed a species of bridge between the Gr. of the classical authors as well as of the Alexandrians of the Silver Age of Hellenic lit. and the Gr. of modern Athens. Hence the above reservation “in many ways.” The NT was written by Palestinian Jews (Matthew, Mark, John, Peter, James, Jude); by one of the best-educated men of his age—a Hel. Jew of the Asian Dispersion (Paul); by a Gentile from Antioch or Philippi, or both (Luke); and by one who was prob. an Alexandrian Jew (the writer of Hebrews). Their Gr. ranges from occasionally plain “tr. Greek,” an idiom infected by turns of speech from Heb. or Aram., to the Gr. of the 1st cent. at its best (Luke and Paul), a language recognizably similar to that written by near-contemporaries, such as Plutarch and Josephus, imperfect in style though both of these writers are.
These remarks about the Gr. of the NT are made because the Gr. of the OT manifests similar characteristics. The position this article has taken is that the whole of the VS was prob. produced near the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, but, even if the contributions spanned a cent., the characteristics of the language employed remain beyond unification, classification, or full explanation in terms of dialect or style. All that can be said is this: the language of the LXX resembles that of the NT in many ways, but cannot be regarded as a demonstration of the common dialect of its time. Furthermore, it is more heavily invaded by Hebraisms than any part of the NT. Josephus and Philo, who quote the LXX in paraphrase, obviously feel themselves under some constraint to smooth and adapt the language. R. R. Ottley sums up thus: “My own feeling, after endeavouring to read the Septuagint continuously, is that an impression of ugliness, which may make itself felt at first, soon wears off, and does not return. In some ways, the style is uneven...and there is no sign of an attempt to revise the whole to any uniform standard. We can also see that many sentences are not well-balanced; the translators were almost debarred from making them so, and even those that are originally admirable in this respect are apt to lose their character in the version. Especially is this the case in poetical passages. The terseness of the original loses its effect, not merely in spite of, but because of, the literalness of the rendering....Finally, there is either no ability, or no attempt, to shape a telling sentence, which may strike the ear and linger in the memory. Anyone who cherishes the sounds and cadences of a favourite text, either in the Hebrew or in the more familiar English, is liable to meet with disappointment on turning to the Septuagint. If anyone is to be stirred, terrified, cheered or consoled by it, it must be by the underlying thought and not by the music or word-power of the language” (A Handbook to the Septuagint, 175, 176).
Swete lists specialities of vocabulary, peculiarities of style, and specific instances of phenomena of language and expression to which general reference has been made, in Part II of his compendium, esp. chs. IV and V.
The Septuagint in the NT.
It will be seen from the evaluation attempted above, that, as a literary effort, the LXX must be marked as a failure. It did not, in general, penetrate the Gentile literary world. As a landmark in history, the LXX can hardly be overestimated. It was a major element in preserving the continuity of the synagogue worship, and therefore both the coherence of the dispersed Jews, and their ability to win Gentile converts. It was the Bible of the Diaspora, and as such became the Bible of the Church, which was given its global form and mission by Hel. Jews.
This is evident, when the quotations from the OT, which abound throughout the New are examined. Westcott and Hort’sin Greek prints an exhaustive list (581ff.), and distinguishes the same by uncial type in the body of the text. Swete similarly lists them (382-393). The synoptic gospels quote the OT in forty-six distinct citations, of which eighteen are peculiar to Matthew, and three each to Mark and Luke. John has twelve quotations, of which only three are also found in the synoptics. The twenty-three quotations in Acts are mainly in speeches. Paul has seventy-eight quotations, seventy-one of which are in the epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians, and the Galatians. Hebrews has twenty-eight quotations, twenty-one of which are not to be found in the rest of the NT. The Apocalypse, without direct quotation, is permeated with OT language.
In general, most of the quotations agree with the Gr. VS, as it is known today. The ancient world was not as careful as writers are today in the matter of accurate quotation, and this must be taken into account when any attempt is made to draw conclusions from the variety of text to be distinguished in the quotations. Perhaps the writer was quoting loosely, paraphrasing, fusing one or two passages, or even adapting, and not using a variant text. The ancient writer would have felt free to quote or use a text in such fashion. Some, however, maintain that the evangelists, at least, used a recension of the LXX, and even discern a tendency to quote Theod. instead of the traditional LXX text. This, of course, in the absence of the greater part of Theodotion’s text, is a matter which cannot be pressed with any certainty. Matthew’s gospel esp. seems to be independent of the LXX, but there is no demonstrable reason why this should be so, or any means of proving that the evangelist used another Gr. VS, or made independent renderings from the Heb. John’s gospel, on the other hand, makes quotations which agree almost word for word with the LXX, as does Acts. Paul, in quite half of his OT quotations, makes little change from the LXX, but in the remainder quotes with some freedom, paraphrases, fuses, or abandons the Alexandrian VS for an otherwise unknown alternative, perhaps his own.
Swete who, with his customary diligence, lists and analyzes all these literary phenomena, says: “It has been reasonably conjectured that the writers of the New Testament used a recension which was current in Palestine and possibly in Asia Minor, and which afterwards supplied materials to Theodotion....” It is surely inevitable that well-informed Jewish scholars of the Dispersion should quite frequently revise and improve what again and again would appear to them as a faulty text, and equally inevitable in a literary age, that such revisions should be copied and widely circulated.
Apart altogether from quotations, the LXX exerted a deep influence on the NT, and words, phrases, and verbal echoes abound in the text. Some of the great theological words of the apostolic age “seem to have been prepared for their Christian connotation” by their use in the LXX, to quote Swete (p. 404) again. He concludes: “Not the Old Testament only, but the Alexandrian version of the Old Testament, has left its mark on every portion of the New Testament, even in chapters and books where it is not distinctly cited. It is not too much to say that in its literary form and expression the New Testament would have been a widely different book had it been written by authors who knew the Old Testament only in the original, or who knew it in a Greek version other than that of the Septuagint” (loc. cit.).
In the absence of further major literary discoveries, some large find, for example, of the magnitude of the DSS, nothing further can be added to the basic raw material for LXX study. Much will remain in the realm of conjecture, though new insights, new alignment of available data, and more detailed analysis, may add to or simplify present literary theories and suggestions. There is room for a clarification of the grammar of LXX Gr., and the style of the contributors to the corpus may admit of more careful analysis. Beyond this, there is not much more, in the present state of the available data, to be usefully done.
That data is collected and magnificently classified in the book by, revised by Richard Rusden Ottley, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, which has already been quoted. The Cambridge University Press has included an appendix by H. St. J. Thackeray which includes Aristeas’ famous letter. Ottley’s own Handbook to the Septuagint covers the same ground in less detail. To these may be added Frederic G. Kenyon’s book, The Text of the Greek Bible, which has useful pages on the LXX. All three books are equipped ch. by ch. with detailed bibliographies which provide abundant material for anyone wishing to pursue one or another aspect of LXX studies further.
Of trs. of the LXX, there are two in Eng. Charles Thomson, one of the founding fathers of the U.S.A. produced the first in 1808. It was republished in 1954. In 1844 Messrs. Bagster of London produced the second Eng. VS by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, along with their ed. of the Gr. text.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
III. TRADITIONAL ORIGIN
1. Letter of Aristeas
2. Evidence of Aristobulus and Philo
3. Later Accretions
4. Criticism of the Aristeas Story
IV. EVIDENCE OF PROLOGUE TO SIRACH
V. TRANSMISSION OF THE SEPTUAGINT TEXT
1. Early Corruption of the Text
2. Official Revision of Hebrew Text circa 100 AD
3. Adoption of Septuagint by Christians
4. Alternative 2nd-Century
7. Symmachus and Others
8. Origen and the Hexapla
9. Hexaplaric Manuscripts
10. Recensions Known to Jerome
11. Hesychian Recension
12. Lucianic Recension
VI. RECONSTRUCTION OF SEPTUAGINT TEXT; VERSIONS, MANUSCRIPTS AND PRINTED EDITIONS
1. Ancient Versions Made from Septuagint
3. Printed Texts
4. Reconstruction of Original Text
VII. NUMBER, TITLES AND ORDER OF BOOKS
3. Bipartition of Books
4. Grouping and Order of Books
VIII. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VERSION AND ITS COMPONENT PARTS
1. Grouping of Books on Internal Evidence
(1) The Hexateuch
(2) The "Latter" Prophets
(3) Partial Version of the "Former" Prophets (4) The "Writings"
(5) The Latest Septuagint Translations
2. General Characteristics
IX. SALIENT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE GREEK AND HEBREW TEXTS
The Greek version of thecommonly 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 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 . 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 "G".
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 letter.
There follow: (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 Palestine, 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,, Augustine, the 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
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 Palestine 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
(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 BC.
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)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
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
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 versions
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 (
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,, and the So 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
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
(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 difficulties. There were
(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 Palestine 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 (
12. Lucianic Recension:
The Lucianic recension was the work of another martyr,(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 readings;
(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.
(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 great value.
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 Bible: 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 matter. 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 matter. 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) theof 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. 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. 17-26) 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 singlepresents 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 (Theonly 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 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. Ru 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; 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 (Sirach, prolegomena).
1. Grouping of Septuagint 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 "," "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 (
(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 1-11 1 (David’s early reign), (3) 3 R 2 12-21 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 (
(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 2-3 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 Jud 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
IX. Salient Differences between 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) Ex 35-39, the construction of the Tabernacle and the ornaments of its ministers,
(2) 3 R 4-11, Solomon’s reign,
(3) Jeremiah (last half),
(4) Proverbs (end).
(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
(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.
2. Subject Matter:
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" (
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