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.