Friday, October 07, 2016

Discovering the LXX (Septuagint)

Discovering the Septuagint A Guided Reader by Karen H. Jobes

If you want to come closer to an understanding of the Old Testament that was held by the early Christian church you will need to read the Septuagint (LXX). There are English translations available and there are interlinears. But what if you already have some skills in koine Greek but want some encouragement to read through the Greek text of the LXX? This guided reader answers this need. The author has taught advanced koine Greek at Wheaton College and she involved graduate students and teaching assistants in the books development. I appreciate the clarity and focus this brought to this text.

It is recommended (but not entirely necessary in my opinion) to have had at least 3 semesters of Greek to tackle this text. I took Greek at Trinity Life Bible College (now known as Epic Bible College) over 25 years ago. I took exactly 3 semesters and I feel rusty but confident as I can still ride my Greek language bicycle albeit I did have to put the training wheels on. If you have a good lexicon, grammar, and dictionary (I use Kittle's TDNT) you can work through the text as the notes are very helpful in this guide.

There are 10 chapters each taking about 75 verses or so from 10 OT books.

Chapter 1 Genesis 80 verses.
Chapter 2 Exodus 79 verses.
Chapter 3 The Ten Commandments.
Chapter 4 Ruth 85 verses.
Chapter 5 Esther 73 verses.
Chapter 6 Selected Psalms 67 verses.
Chapter 7 Hosea 56 verses.
Chapter 8 Jonah 48 verses.
Chapter 9 Malachi 55 verses.
Chapter 10 Isaiah 81 verses.

The book gives an introduction to each section and a selected bibligraphy, prior to each section. The Greek text is one verse at a time with ample notes and parsings. One thing I appreciated was the font was very easy to read being large enough for older eyes. At the end of each section is an English translation taken from A New English Translation of the Septuagint, Albert Pietersma and Benjamin Wright, eds.; Oxford University Press, 2007. Also there is a helpful chart that shows verses that are cited in the New Testament and the context they appear in. The selections provided I found purposeful and definitely will lead me to further study.

I have no knowledge of Hebrew so I was delighted many times by what I found in the Greek of the LXX. I will share one example from the section on Ruth. Most English versions translate peloni almoni in 4:1 as “friend” but the LXX used kruthios translated as “hidden one” because the near redeemer had chosen to stay hidden from his duty towards Naomi. But Boaz went to the city gate and made Naomi and Ruth's situation public. This idiom became much clearer for me when seen in the Greek.

If you have an appreciation for studying the New Testament in the original language, I am sure you will also be delighted by this superb guide to the Septuagint. I would heartily recommend this text to anyone who is comfortable reading Greek and able to use standard reference tools. I would like to thank Kregel Academic for sending me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This was your life . . .

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

(John 15:1-11 [ESV])

This was the scripture reading for today's sermon message. Pastor talked about the branches that were taken away and the various views on what that means. He showed us from similar texts how it is possible for someone to receive the label of “believer” or “disciple” and still not truly be a follower of Jesus, since they did not endure to the end.

This made me imagine a movie. Something like “This Was Your Life” from the crude tract publisher Chick Tract LLC. Whenever you go to a movie you have to go with some sense of belief. We call it the willing suspense of disbelief. Because many of the things in a movie are just too impossible to happen in real life. So in order to enjoy the movie we suspend our disbelief. But what if the movie you were watching was your life? 

What if on a daily basis you had to trust that the movie of your life would end up with a happy ending? If I had to count how many times I said to myself “I can't believe this is happening to me” I think I would quickly run out of space on my paper. Bad things happen. If you're like me you don't like it when things take a turn for the worse and I usually look for some one or something to blame. Many times, sorry to say, I have blamed God. You know the creator, director, and producer of this great big movie we call universe and the little part we get to play in it. 

All I'm suggesting is that when your life (your movie) begins to suck don't walk out of the theater demanding your money back. Take a breath, if you can't believe it at least try to suspend your disbelief. Give the Creator Director God the benefit of the doubt and trust He will give your movie (your life) the happy ending you long for.

At the end of each day, no matter how bad my movie (my life) sucks I want my words to be, “I'm going to watch it again tomorrow” trusting my Creator Director God will turn the plot around and I will eventually get to the episode with the happy ending.