Stirling Bartholomew wrote: ↑
August 29th, 2019, 2:53 pm
The notion that "The Septuagint" is fixed entity with a certain content is called into question by the "Warden" of Tyndale House Cambridge, Peter J. Williams, PhD.
Why I Don't Believe In The Septuagint
- Dr. Peter J. Williams, PhD
This has consequences for Greek research. We should stop referring to our digital LXX as a search corpus. It is sloppy scholarship.
What does it mean to "stop referring to our digital LXX as a search corpus" and how exactly is this "sloppy scholarship"? I assume the "digital corpus" you're referring to is the same collection of books we have in printed editions?
In terms of nomenclature, I completely understand Dr. Williams' argument from anachronism. But, unless leading scholars who specialize in the Septuagint, like Emmanuel Tov, jettison terms like "Septuagint", or abbreviations like "LXX" or "𝕲" in favor of some other universally preferred terms; I don't personally see any reason to stop using these terms (in the absence of a good alternative), as long as scholarly works on the topic properly define terms. In the same sense, just because some people dislike the term "Old Testament" and prefer "Hebrew Bible", I don't think "Old Testament" ("OT") should be abandoned as a term. It certainly has enough tradition and traction behind it to make it viable.
I always like Dr. Williams' presentations. He's an eloquent orator and full of insight. I've re-watched this presentation on the Septuagint several times. But I can't help feeling like this is more of a polemic than the kind of neutral approach to the subject I'd prefer to see. He seems very biased to me, like he has an axe to grind, for some reason. It's a common Protestant sentiment - rejection of the LXX in favor of the MT. The inverse is also true among Orthodox Christians - rejection of the MT in favor of the LXX. I totally appreciate the controversy.
For me personally, the work of Emmanuel Tov (Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, The Greek and Hebrew Bible, The Text Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research) significantly eclipses some of Dr. Williams' theses. Perhaps I'm a bit biased in favor of Tov, since I've learned so much of what I know from these particular books. Tov explains his use of the term "Septuagint(a)" as follows:
The collective name Septuagint(a) now denotes both the original translation of Hebrew-Aramaic Scripture into Greek and the collection of sacred Greek writings in their present, canonical, form. Neither use is precise, since the name Septuaginta is not suitable for a collection that contains in addition to the original translation of some books, late revisions of original translations, as well as compositions written in Greek. Accordingly, scholars usually distinguish between the collection of sacred Greek writings named the "Septuagint" and the reconstructed original translation, called the Old Greek (OG) translation. When it is necessary to stress the diverse nature of the collection of books included in 𝕲, its name is often placed in quoations marks ("𝕲").
-Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, pg. 129
Emmanuel Tov certainly does not characterize the Septuagint as a "fixed entity". He elaborates on several different versions - The OG > Kaige Th > Aquila / Theodotian > Symmachus > Hexapla > Hesychius > Lucian. A lot of text-critical work has gone into identifying these various streams of revision. And equal weight is not given to every single book in the corpus. For example, the OG text of Daniel (not including Greek additions to Daniel), is argued to contain some readings more primitive than those in the MT. But this thesis is not without detractors.
If anyone has gone to the effort of painstakingly comparing NT references to OT passages with our Greek editions, they probably realize that, in some instances, they match verbatim. In other instances there are subtle variations, and in other instances they drastically diverge. Dr. Williams asserts that "we don't have what they (1st century Christians) had" (if I recall the quote correctly). But in my own personal observation, the evidence does not always bear out this conclusion. So I think the Greek texts have tremendous value for OT and NT studies. I do have some reservations when approaching these texts. But I personally don't discount them to the extent that Dr. Williams thinks we should.