Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Hurtado on the LXX

I want to call attention to a recent post on the LXX here. Larry makes some great points about the neglect of the LXX on the part of students of the NT and then points us to some very helpful resources.

The only question I have is, what is the edition of the LXX that NT students and scholars should use for their research? A list of the available critical editions of the books of the LXX may be found here at the Septuaginta-Unternehmen's website (23 volumes; 2/3 complete). Many, if not all of these volumes, are available through Logos software as well. Volumes of this series not only (1) reconstruct the Old Greek but also (2) catalogue the available evidence of the reception history in a second apparatus. (3) The Orthographica und Grammatica section helpfully lists the types of scribal errors which occurred in the manuscripts used for the production of the edition (helpful for LXX and NT scholars alike). If you are studying the relationship of the LXX to the NT, then start with the Goettingen Septuaginta. If there is no Goettingen volume, then use Rahlfs or Brooke McLean.


  1. Where is the best place to find alternative Old Greek renderings (whether or not specifically attributable)?

  2. Peter, I am not sure I understand your question, so please bear with me. What is an "alternative OG rendering"? Do you mean another reading that is probably the OG reading, like a variant? Or are you inquiring about multiple OG renderings? If the former, the Goettingen volume's first apparatus is the place to go, since it claims to be comprehensive. If the latter, I am not sure I can help you, since I don't think the evidence of the text history of the LXX supports multiple originals and therefore there are no alternative OG renderings.

  3. I would definitely recommend the Goettingen editions as well. Logos has a good electronic module for them. If not, Rahlf's is a decent substitute. Brooke-McClean is also available for free at, but I'm not particularly fond of diplomatic texts for these purposes. Any good critical text will be better than 4th century codices. But that's my pet peeve...

    At the same time, given the diversity of texts in the first century, I think it is important for NT scholars to realize that the NT authors may not have had access to a pure form of the Old Greek. It is quite possible that their texts were neither "LXX" or MT.

  4. Drew, you raise a very good point in your last paragraph. That is why the second apparatus of the Goettingen volumes is essential, especially, if the Theodotion materials are to be dated to the 1st century AD. Revisions of the LXX must be taken into account when analyzing the NT use of the LXX or MT.

  5. John, how can I take the Greek revisions into account, since I still haven't received a complementary copy of your dissertation! ;)

  6. Along the lines that Drew was raising, I've notices that the possible NT parallels to Gen 22:2, namely Hebrews 11:17 and John 3:16, seem to reference a different text than the one we have in our critical editions.

    Ralphs reads: "και ειπεν Λαγε τον υιον σου τον αγαπητον ον ηγαπησας τον Ισαακ"

    where one would have expected 'μονογενης' based on the reading of Hebrews 11:17.

    Unfortunately the early Greek witnesses of the early chapters of Genesis seems a bit bare (both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are defective there). So it it likely that some old Greek text read μονογενης, or is the author of Hebrews doing his own translation from the Hebrew. If so, did John have Gen 22:2 in mind, or is it just an accident that both Jesus and Isaac where "beloved, only sons".

    Clearly LXX studies have a bearing on the understanding NT if not the TC of the NT.


  7. Thanks Bob for your comment. 1 Cor. 15:54 also shows a citation of Isa 25:8a, which is not the form of the OG but of a later revision.

  8. Juan Hernández Jr.5/04/2012 4:05 pm

    Bob, I'd be curious to know what later revision is used in the citation of Isa 25:8a in 1 Cor 15:54. As it turns out, the allusions to Isa 25:8 in Rev 7:17 and 25:8 are from Symmachus rather than the OG (a detail unaccounted for in the margins of NA27).

  9. Juan Hernández Jr.5/04/2012 4:08 pm

    Actually, I meant to ask John.

  10. Juan, I believe the citation matches the version of Theodotion. Now, Theodotion may have used a previous revision from the καιγε, although this can not be proven.

  11. A caution, though, regarding the Goettingen editions. Not all the editions are of the same quality. The first volume published by Rahlfs on the Psalter is of limited value, especially when compared with Ziegler's edition on Isaiah. Also helpful is Wever's series of "Notes" on the Greek text of the Pentateuch books. Consultation of the Verzeichnis by Fraenkel in the Goettingen series in indispensable for identifying extant manuscripts (as of 2004).

  12. To add to Patrick's statement: yes, the Psalms edition by Rahlfs is not complete at all. They are still collating Psalms in Göttingen - as can be expected, the amount of manuscripts is really large. Apparently, there will be a new Psalms edition after the current project (the one running for the past 80 years or so) ends.

    About the Logos Göttingen editions: yes, very useful. But they've unfortunately still got a lot of problems in the links in their apparatus - I suspect the tagging was done by a machine.

    Also, (since I'm commenting anyway), the folks at Wuppertal have created a database with at least the explicit quotations of the OT in the NT from a bunch of the most important mss and traditions. The plan is (was?) to link it to the NTTranscrips so one can immediately see these variants when looking at the NT text.

  13. We have two major LXX projects – one German (Göttingen) and the other British (Cambridge) - and both are incomplete. Both, however, should be consulted for the completing witnesses they present in the apparatuses.


    editio minor = Rahlfs, Septuaginta, 1935/1979; revised by Hanhart 2006 (i.e. the “Rahlfs-Hanhart” edition = Rahlfs, A., R. Hanhart (eds). Septuaginta: Id est Vetus Testamentum graece iuxta LXX interpretes, Duo volumina in uno (Editio altera). American Bible Society, 2006). In the “Rahlfs-Hanhart” edition (ISBN 3438051192), Robert Hanhart corrected numerous minor errors throughout Rahlfs’ Septuaginta and made a number of modifications to the apparatus (explained in the introduction). Some of these include the citations of additional uncial Mss. In any case, this edition is not a critical text but makes primarily of A, S, and B. It is inadequate for serious LXX work.

    editio maior = “Göttingen LXX” (i.e. the eclectic LXX project of the Septuaginta-Unternehmen Göttingen)

    Septuaginta. Vetus Testamentum graece auctoritate Societatis Göttingensis editum. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1931- . (individual editors of respective volumes). The following volumes have appeared: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Ruth, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras (Ezra-Nehemiah), Esther, Judith, Tobit, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, Psalms, Job, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, the 12 Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Susanna, Daniel, Bel and the Dragon. This is the standard [eclectic] critical edition.

    As for the LXX Psalter, the new Göttingen edition will re-collate about 665 manuscripts that predate the printing press. To these will be added the various daughter versions. Rahlfs’ edition of the Psalms (Psalmi cum Odis) utilized 59 Mss and 5 daughter versions. So you can see the difference between the first edition of the Psalter, and what the new one will be, at least in terms of the Mss stock that sits beneath them.


    In the same way that the German project has two editions - a minor and major edition - so too did the (incomplete as of 1940) British LXX project. Also, whereas the Göttingen approach is fully eclectic, the British approach is diplomatic, as has been noted already. That is, the latter presents in the main text the best available MS (usually Vaticanus), and all competing evidence in two apparatuses. The Göttingen project places the reconstructed “best” text (= oldest recoverable text) in the body, and typically includes two textual apparatuses: (1) LXX proper (2) Hexaplaric readings (i.e. Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, etc). That being said, the Cambridge apparatuses still include some indispensable work.

    editio minor = Swete, H.B., ed. The Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint. 3 vols. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1905-1907. Codex B (completed with A and S [= a]) with a textual apparatus.

    editio maior = “Cambridge LXX”

    Brooke, A.E., N. McLean, and H. St. J. Thackeray. The Old Testament in Greek. 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1906-40. Fascicles include: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Esdras, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther, Judith, Tobit.

    This project will likely never be completed.

    -Randall Gauthier

  14. The first step is to remember that no NT writer could have had a concept of "the Septuagint" as now currently understood. There's no reason to think that they considered Greek translations outside the Pentateuch to come from a single translation movement.

    Also there is no edition, or hope of an edition, which will present the form of text most common in Greek translation at the time of the NT writers.

    People working on the use of pre-existing Greek translations of the OT within the NT will thus always have to work with the fact that there is no edition suitable to the task (nor, I suspect, can such an edition be made).

  15. Pete, this is an honest question. Do we know what the NT writers conception of the Greek translation was? Were they aware or unaware of the revisionary activity of the OG in the preceding century?

    Your second and third points are well placed. NT scholars will have to work with the information given in editions which reconstruct the OG and the fragments of Origen's Hexapla in order to attempt speculative reconstructions of the Greek text of NT authors. Of course ad hoc translations from the Hebrew cannot be dismissed, but this explanation is speculative as well.

  16. John,
    I think we can say more of what the NT writers of the Septuagint wasn't. To start with, they would have had no word equivalent of 'Septuagint'. The 'seventy' always referred to the translators, never to the translation until very, very late. How late exactly I don't know, but even in 17th century English 'Septuagint' generally took a plural verb, and 'the Septuagints' was the name for the translators. Then 'the version of the Septuagint [people]' gets changed into the 'Septuagint version'.

    Then there is the extent. No one before Justin Martyr attributed books outside the Pentateuch to the Seventy. Josephus and Aristeas seem to think they just did the Pentateuch. So I presume that Paul would not have been able to refer to a Greek translation of Isaiah as 'Septuagint'.

    It is only from the time of Origen onwards that books outside the Hebrew canon are attributed to the Seventy, and the history of the spreading perception of their work has to be documented separately for each book.

    If Swete is right that more NT quotations of the OT agree with Alexandrinus than with Vaticanus, that's another gap between NT quotations and our notion of 'Septuagint'.

    So the problems come when someone says that Luke seeks to use Septuagintal style, or that certain Qumran Hebrew mss have a Septuagint type text, or that the Septuagint was the Bible of the early Christians. I notice how even experienced scholars often don't see how easily anachronistic conceptions get imported here.

  17. Thanks Pete. That is a helpful answer which I will chew on for a little bit.