"Good Greek" in the Septuagint

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"Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 15th, 2013, 7:55 am

What parts of the Septuagint have the best Greek, i.e. are not heavily "translation Greek"?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby Ken M. Penner » May 15th, 2013, 8:47 am

Generally, those parts that are not in the tanak. Wisdom, 2 Macc.
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 15th, 2013, 3:30 pm

Are these the bits not in the Tanak?

Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, the Prayer of Manasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.

Is the Greek in 1 Maccabees significantly different from the Greek in 2 Maccabees?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby MAubrey » May 15th, 2013, 6:48 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:Are these the bits not in the Tanak?

Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, the Prayer of Manasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.

Is the Greek in 1 Maccabees significantly different from the Greek in 2 Maccabees?

That's pretty good. Odes is a mixed bag in that it consists of various songs from both the Old and New Testaments, a blend of translated and native Greek. 4 Maccabees in native Greek on par with (if not beyond) Hebrews in terms of style.

Also, Exodus is quite natural, too.
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby Ken M. Penner » May 15th, 2013, 8:05 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Is the Greek in 1 Maccabees significantly different from the Greek in 2 Maccabees?

Yes. 1 Macc. is decent Greek, but it still feels like a translation. 2 Macc. doesn't.
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby RandallButh » May 16th, 2013, 2:04 am

MAubrey wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:Are these the bits not in the Tanak?

Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, the Prayer of Manasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.

Is the Greek in 1 Maccabees significantly different from the Greek in 2 Maccabees?

That's pretty good. Odes is a mixed bag in that it consists of various songs from both the Old and New Testaments, a blend of translated and native Greek. 4 Maccabees in native Greek on par with (if not beyond) Hebrews in terms of style.

Also, Exodus is quite natural, too.


Before too much confusion gets into the thread, it needs to back off from that first answer that "good Greek" is primiarily found in the "bits not in the Tanak". Much of that non-Tanak material is translationese, only a few select pieces can be called natural or good Greek, of which 2-4 Mac and Wisdom qualify. And the statement the "Exodus is natural, too" baffles me. It is translation Greek, even if different from the translator of Judges.

Tobit is translation Greek and both Hebrew and Aramaic copies have been found at Qumran. Debate exists over whether the Hebrew or Aramaic is the original, but no one is proposing Greek as the original.
Judith is very Semitically styled
BenSira is an admitted translation
Baruch and letter of Jeremiah basically Semitic
Suzanna
Bel and Dragon

I would suggest Hebraic influence:
1 Maccabees,
Susanna,
Bel and the Dragon,
Joseph and Aseneth,
Tobit, and
Judith (a friend of mine argues that Judith is "LXX-styled Jewish Greek", which would still leave it in the unnatural, or 'not good Greek' camp).

Aramaic background:
1 Esd 3:1–5:6,
the Testament of Job, and
The Life of Adam and Eve.

My two cents.
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby MAubrey » May 16th, 2013, 10:31 am

RandallButh wrote:
MAubrey wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:Are these the bits not in the Tanak?

Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, the Prayer of Manasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.

Is the Greek in 1 Maccabees significantly different from the Greek in 2 Maccabees?

That's pretty good. Odes is a mixed bag in that it consists of various songs from both the Old and New Testaments, a blend of translated and native Greek. 4 Maccabees in native Greek on par with (if not beyond) Hebrews in terms of style.

Also, Exodus is quite natural, too.


Before too much confusion gets into the thread, it needs to back off from that first answer that "good Greek" is primiarily found in the "bits not in the Tanak". Much of that non-Tanak material is translationese, only a few select pieces can be called natural or good Greek, of which 2-4 Mac and Wisdom qualify. And the statement the "Exodus is natural, too" baffles me. It is translation Greek, even if different from the translator of Judges.

Tobit is translation Greek and both Hebrew and Aramaic copies have been found at Qumran. Debate exists over whether the Hebrew or Aramaic is the original, but no one is proposing Greek as the original.
Judith is very Semitically styled
BenSira is an admitted translation
Baruch and letter of Jeremiah basically Semitic
Suzanna
Bel and Dragon

I would suggest Hebraic influence:
1 Maccabees,
Susanna,
Bel and the Dragon,
Joseph and Aseneth,
Tobit, and
Judith (a friend of mine argues that Judith is "LXX-styled Jewish Greek", which would still leave it in the unnatural, or 'not good Greek' camp).

Aramaic background:
1 Esd 3:1–5:6,
the Testament of Job, and
The Life of Adam and Eve.

My two cents.

Your two cents are just as baffling. The NLT is translation English, but its also fairly naturally and generally good. Exodus has (generally) natural prosodic structure and, for the most part, natural use of the verbal system. Beyond that, there's really no reason (aside from your assertion) why LXX-styled all necessitates "not good Greek." I've read plenty of a world literature translated into English, much of it styled in a certain manner, while still being excellent English.
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby Ken M. Penner » May 16th, 2013, 10:36 am

The original query defined good Greek as lacking the characteristics of a translation.
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby RandallButh » May 16th, 2013, 12:01 pm

First Ken:

Ken Penner wrote: The original query defined good Greek as lacing the characteristics of a translation.


I don't know what "lacing the characteristics of a translation" means. Does that include or exclude blatant source-language characteristics in the target language? If it includes them, then the definition is not useful. By definition, a "good style" in a translation is natural to the target language and no longer highlights features of the source language.

MAubrey wrote:
RandallButh wrote:
MAubrey wrote:That's pretty good. Odes is a mixed bag in that it consists of various songs from both the Old and New Testaments, a blend of translated and native Greek. 4 Maccabees in native Greek on par with (if not beyond) Hebrews in terms of style.

Also, Exodus is quite natural, too.


Before too much confusion gets into the thread, it needs to back off from that first answer that "good Greek" is primiarily found in the "bits not in the Tanak". Much of that non-Tanak material is translationese, only a few select pieces can be called natural or good Greek, of which 2-4 Mac and Wisdom qualify. And the statement the "Exodus is natural, too" baffles me. It is translation Greek, even if different from the translator of Judges.

Tobit is translation Greek and both Hebrew and Aramaic copies have been found at Qumran. Debate exists over whether the Hebrew or Aramaic is the original, but no one is proposing Greek as the original.
Judith is very Semitically styled
BenSira is an admitted translation
Baruch and letter of Jeremiah basically Semitic
Suzanna
Bel and Dragon

I would suggest Hebraic influence:
1 Maccabees,
Susanna,
Bel and the Dragon,
Joseph and Aseneth,
Tobit, and
Judith (a friend of mine argues that Judith is "LXX-styled Jewish Greek", which would still leave it in the unnatural, or 'not good Greek' camp).

Aramaic background:
1 Esd 3:1–5:6,
the Testament of Job, and
The Life of Adam and Eve.

My two cents.

Your two cents are just as baffling. The NLT is translation English, but its also fairly naturally and generally good. Exodus has (generally) natural prosodic structure and, for the most part, natural use of the verbal system. Beyond that, there's really no reason (aside from your assertion) why LXX-styled all necessitates "not good Greek." I've read plenty of a world literature translated into English, much of it styled in a certain manner, while still being excellent English.


Michael, my definition of "good Greek" is a work that falls within the ranges of features of natural Greek, of Greek written by a mother-tongue Greek. If a production consistently falls outside of natural ranges and uses of Greek, then it is not "good Greek", nor should it be used by someone to decide what Greek style should look like. Clean morphology, general concord, and "correct" verbal syntax do not make something natural or "good." Greek likes lots of 'texture' with narrative participles, more variety of connectors and particles than Hebrew, more variety in tense use. LXX Exodus does not qualify as "good Greek" on this basis even though it has occasionally added Greek features to the target translation.

Have you considered the clausal KAI/DE ratio of Exodus? Natural Greek? How about the numbers of participles relative to main verbs, or the ratio of imperfect to aorist or per 1000 words? This is not "my assertion" but what Greek readers have observed and felt over the centuries (regulated for genre of course). Maybe you are already acquainted with Raymond Martin's work from the 60's-80's? He used a 17-feature grid to differentiate "'translation Greek" from "original Greek." That grid could be expanded to 50 criteria for more precision, but the result would be the same for Exodus. You claim that LXX Exodus (for the most part) has a "natural use of the verbal system ." It doesn't. If someone looks atomistically at an invidual verb and asks if it breaks the bounds of the Greek verb system, then one could claim it is "good." But when 50, or 100, or 1000 verbs are strung together, then the patterns in Exodus and other books of the LXX become "un-Greek." The same with prepositions and nouns. That Genesis and Exodus have patterns that move a little more in the direction of "good Greek" than Judges or Kingdoms does not make them "good Greek." Using my perspective, you may understand my bafflement.

(PS: I worked professionally for twenty years in Bible translation where the evaluation of a natural or good translation style was part of the job. The LXX would have flunked every review and does not come anywhere close to the "Living Bible" English. The LXX is "translationese." Instead of comparing LXX Exodus to the Living Bible, you could have used the RSV or ASV, though these latter are not "good English.")
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Re: "Good Greek" in the Septuagint

Postby RandallButh » May 16th, 2013, 12:56 pm

PPS:

For an example of truly "natural" translation, see Josephus, Jewish War.
The Greek does not read at all like translation Greek, though Josephus claims that he translated it from the "patriarchal language" (see 5:272-272 for more on that language).

I can only assume that Josephus wrote a short, condensed version of the "War" in Hebrew (perhaps with 1 Maccabees as his stylistic guide), and then expanded and rewrote the whole work from scratch in Greek. Either that, or he did a better job in Greek than the Living Bible did in English.

In other words, Josephus' War in Greek is not a translation, but a new edition and a new writing. It is natural Greek.
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