Monday, February 05, 2018

Modern Editions of the Hexaplaric Fragments

Last week, I posted on a small part of Origen's Hexapla in Job 24:25, and before writing further posts on the matter, readers should be aware of the modern editions of the Hexapla. There is a lot to say about the history of the Hexapla and research into its primary sources, but the greatest benefit to the student of the Bible is access to the modern editions and collections of its fragmentary remains.

Collections of Hexaplaric Fragments

First, several collections of the hexaplaric fragments led up to Frederick Field’s magnum opus (as the extended title of his work indicated). Michael Law has helpfully told that story in BIOSCS/JSCS vol. 40 (2007): 30-48 [free PDF of issue]. Field's innovation was not in collecting the fragments. Rather, he advanced our knowledge of the Hexapla and its readings by including the Syriac evidence for the hexaplaric versions. Thus, from 1875, Field’s two-volume Hexapla became the departure for all scholarly study.

Second, the lower or second apparatus of the Göttingen Septuaginta provides an extensive collection of hexaplaric fragments for all the available books, except Psalms, which does not have a second apparatus. Where there is a Göttingen edition available, the scholar and the student should consult it ahead of Field, since it often contains more readings and evidence for the hexaplaric versions than Field's earlier edition.
SEBTS's Reference Copies
Third, the apparatus of the Larger Cambridge Septuagint also provides a collection of hexaplaric fragments for the available books. In particular, one will want to consult it in conjunction with Field for the history books of the OT where there are no available Göttingen editions to date.

There are differences between these editions that are worth noting. Field attempted a critical reconstruction of the original text of the fragments in his edition. Although his evidence set was limited in comparison to later editions, he reconstructed the original wording of the fragments and provided a textual commentary in Latin in the footnotes. Most significantly, he provided Greek retroversions from Syriac sources (known as the Syro-hexapla or Syh). Although Göttingen and Cambridge have fuller evidence registers than Field, they do not attempt a critical reconstruction of the hexaplaric fragments. In accordance with their objectives, they listed the fragments so that the scholar and student could see how the hexaplaric fragments may have influenced or corrupted the Old Greek in the course of its textual transmission.

All of this work has set up the Hexapla Project or what is sometimes referred to as "a Field for the 21st Century."

PhD Dissertations for the Hexapla Project

The Hexapla Project combines the vision of Field for a critical text of the hexaplaric fragments with the most up-to-date evidence and sources available. The following PhD dissertations provide the critical text for the hexaplaric fragments for those books as well as a series of apparatuses for variant readings. Substantial work has been done on Numbers, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles (Song of Songs), and all of these volumes are at various stages for publication with Peeters Publishers.
  • Burris, Kevin. “A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Numbers 1-18.” Ph.D. diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009.
  • Ceulemans, Reinhart. “A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of the Book of Canticles, with Emphasis on their Reception in Greek Christian Exegesis.” Ph.D. diss., Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2009. 
  • Marshall, Phillip S. “A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Ecclesiastes.” Ph.D. diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2007.
  • McClurg, Andrew H. “A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Numbers 19-36.” Ph.D. diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2011. 
  • Meade, John D. “A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22-42.” Ph.D. diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2012.
  • Woods, Nancy. “A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job: Chapters 1-21.” Ph.D. diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009.
To learn more about the history and aims of the Hexapla Project follow the link.


  1. The Hexapla is fascinating! Thanks for posting.

  2. John,

    Thanks for the information on the Hexapla.

    I also noticed the number of dissertations on the Hexapla from 2007-2012 are from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (5 of 6). It appears that a group of your colleagues had the same doctoral supervisors dealing with the same topic. I do not believe in coincidences. I gathered that you had a interaction with that group that you were apart of. What made you decide to do your dissertation on Job 22-42 after Nancy Woods completed hers on 1-21 on the Hexapla?

    1. Bryant, good observation. Peter Gentry supervised all of those projects. I wanted to work on the Hexapla, and Job 22-42 was an open assignment. That's how I decided on my topic :-).

    2. Thanks! It is good to know that you had someone on supervising the dissertations of a number of future scholars that had a clue about the LXX and other ancient manuscripts.

      One trick that I have learned and continue to use is to check the footnotes and endnotes for the author(s) that are cited the most and check out the source. It has proved invaluable in research.

      As a library consultant here at Shasta Bible College & Graduate School I have found that looking at the footnotes/endnotes as a source to add to the libary's holdings. This gives the students additional resources to make their papers, articles, etc. better.

      Finally, "How do I obtain access to the dissertations above?"

    3. Yes, access in this stage is difficult. I believe you can access them through ProQuest ( Let me know if this works! :-).

  3. Mr. Meade,

    Congratulations on all the great work of The Hexapla Institute.

    I have discovered a lost book of antiquity in the Bible and am seeking extra possible sources for my book.

    I have found in Numbers 21:14 the Book of the Wars of the Lord is actually the War Scroll and the War of the Messiah Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    I am currently using as one of my sources Frederick Fields' 1875 book Origen's Hexapla.

    In reference to Numbers 21:14-15 is there anything incorrect, modified or altered from Fields magnum opus Origens Hexaplarium account?

    If so is there any way I can see your institutes findings just on the scriptures Numbers 21:14-15

    If nothing is drastically different in your new findings compared to Field's could you please let me know?

    Johnny Gonzales
    The Wedding Cocktail Hour Guitarist