International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
1. Letter of Aristeas
2. Evidence of Aristobulus and Philo
3. Later Accretions
4. Criticism of the Aristeas Story
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 Greek Versions
7. Symmachus and Others
8. Origen and the Hexapla
9. Hexaplaric Manuscripts
10. Recensions Known to Jerome
11. Hesychian Recension
12. Lucianic Recension
1. Ancient Versions Made from Septuagint
3. Printed Texts
4. Reconstruction of Original Text
VII. NUMBER ,
3. Bipartition of Books
4. Grouping and Order of Books
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
The Greek version of the Old Testament commonly 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 Alexander the Great 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 New Testament. 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
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., Deuteronomy 104 . 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 οἱ ό ,
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
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 .,
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, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, the Chronicon Paschale 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 Exodus 24 Septuagint to which Epiphanius expressly refers. We there read of 70 elders of Israel, not heard of again, who with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu form a link between Moses and the people. After reciting the Book of the Covenant Moses ascends to the top of the mount; the 70, however, ascend but a little way and are bidden to worship from afar: according to the Septuagint text "They saw the place where the God of Israel stood ... and of the elect of Israel not one perished" ( Exodus 24:11 ), i.e. they were privileged to escape the usual effect of a vision of the Deity (Exodus 33:20 ). But the verb used for "perish" (
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 (
(1) Many of Aristeas' formulas, etc. (see above), only came into use in the 2nd century
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) The Pentateuch 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 3century 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 Genesis 15:15 , shows that already in his day
2. Official Revision of Hebrew Text Circa 100 AD:
But it was not until the beginning of the 2nd century
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 Isaiah 7:14 , where they claimed with justice that "young woman" would be more accurate. Justin retaliates by charging the Jews with deliberate excision of passages favorable to Christianity.
4. Alternative 2Century 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
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 ( Genesis 1:1 ) may be rendered: "In heading rounded God with the heavens and with the earth." "Heading" or "summary" was selected because the Hebrew word for "beginning" was a derivative of "head." "With" represents an untranslatable word (
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, Bel and the Dragon, and the Song 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
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
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 3century. Origen frankly recognized, and wished Christians to recognize, the merits of the later
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 86,88 (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 3century. 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 (
12. Lucianic Recension:
The Lucianic recension was the work of another martyr, Lucian of Antioch (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,
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
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, 1,2 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 3or 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,
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
The Vulgate (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 3century; Nestle in Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche ,
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); 100 (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; 50 (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) the Complutensian Polyglot of 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 5 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 Hellenistic Greek. 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, Leviticus 17 through 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 single Moabite Stone presents 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 t
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Septuagint'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/s/septuagint.html. 1915.