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A One-Volume LXX-NT

April 10, 2013

UPDATE: a link below to Abram K-J’s review.

The best readings of the texts of the New Testament come out of readings of the texts of the Septuagint.  Likewise, seeing how the Septuagint texts have been received and appropriated through the centuries necessarily includes how the New Testament writers seemed to read them.  Probably because not many are convinced of the value of reading the two sets of texts together, no single volume LXX-NT has been published.  And wouldn’t it really take several volumes to handle all of the pages?

One of the rare works to explore the relationships between the NT and the LXX is Rodney J. Decker’s wonderful Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers (Kregel 2007).  Last summer, Abram K-J posted a quick review with some of the pages from Decker’s work.

Then just yesterday, Abram K-J posted the following exciting announcement of:

a Greek Old Testament (LXX) and Greek New Testament (NA28under one cover. Here’s the product page. The thing is more than 3,000 pages and expensive. And those dimensions of 18.4 x 13.3 … are likely in centimeters.

We look forward to hearing more and to seeing such a volume. As you have updates and opinions, please feel free to post them in comments here. We’ll do the same.

UPDATE: here’s the link to Abram K-J’s review.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2013 11:39 am

    But aren’t such volumes common (Septuagint plus Greek NT) and cheaper, for example, in Greece? I had thought that was the most common sort of Bible sold in Greece.

    I’m sure the German Bible Society volume is nice, but I doubt it is much more than its existing NA28 and Rahlfs-Hanhart in a single binding.

  2. April 10, 2013 2:22 pm

    I just don’t know how common in Greece a single-volume LXX plus NT is. Does the Church there publish it? How is it distributed and sold, and for what cheaper price? Can these Bibles be bought online and be shipped to the USA?

    There is an outfit in the USA that publishes a one-cover book called The Apostolic Bible Polyglot for $49.95 US. A webpage shows pages and offers this description:

    The Apostolic Bible Polyglot First Edition comes with various cover options, but all of the Bibles contain the same inner pages…only the bindings differ. The text of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot is printed in the United States on 24 lb. white Bible paper at 1280 PPI. The Bible includes a 13 page Introduction, a 1232 page numerically coded interlinear Greek-English Old Testament (LXX), a numerically coded 372 page interlinear Greek-English New Testament, an 88 page numerically coded English-Greek Index of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, and a 366 page numerically coded Lexical Concordance of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot…totaling 2112 pages. The numerical coding is called the ”AB-Strong Numbering System.” The AB-Strong numbering system follows the numbering system developed by James Strong in the 19th century and it has been adapted to The Apostolic Bible Polyglot Greek Old Testament (LXX) by the translator.

    According to the online introduction, this seems to be the product of “years of private studies” by the interlinear “translator,” presumably one “Charles Van der Pool, Editor-in-Chief.” The LXX text in this volume is quite limited, hardly the full Septuagint used in the Greek Church in Greece today; but it is bound together with a version of the New Testament.

    We have less trouble finding the Iliad and Odyssey bound together it seems. Theophrastus, Do you know of where in Greece we can buy one of the “common” volumes of Bible you refer to?

  3. April 10, 2013 11:43 pm

    The last time I was in Greece, I remember seeing Bibles that were even diglots of the Bambas translation with the Koine LXX/TR. Frustratingly, I cannot find these copies online now, although I can find references to them (examples: here [look for “parallel Bible”] or here). I do remember that these volumes were not at all rare.

    A few years ago, I asked some of my Greek colleagues what they studied in high school in religious studies. They told me that all well-educated Greeks (e.g., those bound for study at a major university) study at least a bit of the classical languages, and learning the Bible in Koine was essentially mandatory. (I gather there is not the US-style separation of church and state — for example, at the most prestigious Greek university, the state-supported University of Athens, one of the four schools is the school of theology.)

    At least you will grant that it is plausible that Greek publishers address the need, rather than requiring the Greeks to buy their Bibles from the Germans. I’ll ask my Greek colleagues.

    ———————————————————

    I think you have to admit that the German Bible Society version looks to be an odd bird. For example, wouldn’t it make more sense to pair up the Septuagint with Textus Receptus (or some Byzantine NT)? And the size certainly looks to be unwieldy. It reminds me of those massive “Complete Works of William Shakespeare” I see sold — it is much more convenient to read out of separate volumes than a single omnibus volume!

    But my real point was that I’m not sure there is any new content in this omnibus edition — it just seems to be material already published by the German Bible Society rebound in a different format (like its Hebrew-Greek Biblia Sacra). On the plus side, you get the apparati.

    ———————————————————

    I do think it is safe to say that in Western scholarship, study of the Septuagint has been fairly scant compared to the massive amount of study in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, I am not aware of any good Greek-English Septuagint diglot (sorry, but I don’t think Brenton is good, and in any case, the version currently in print is photo-reproduced from a 19th century printing), while I am aware of over twenty Hebrew-English diglots and over a dozen Greek-English New Testaments.

    So, given that Septuagint studies have been minimized in the West, it does not surprise me that there are odd little entries like the (apparently) dilettante edition you found. One can only hope that the IOSCS can help to rectify that situation over time. I think the publication of the NETS was already a significant advance.

    ———————————————————

    I may travel to Greece in the next few months — if I do, I’ll see if I can find some ancient Greek Bibles on that trip.

  4. April 11, 2013 9:58 pm

    My daughter just returned from Greece, and I wish I’d thought to ask her to bring back one of the LXX/NT single bound Bibles. Yes, next time you go, do see what you can find.

    Those who study the connections between the Septuagint and the New Testament (both as literature) are the ones who find the one-volume work interesting. I find Decker’s Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers and Barnstone’s The Other Bible: Jewish Pseudepigrapha, Christian Apocrypha, Gnostic Scriptures, Kabbalah, Dead Sea Scrolls, very interesting compilations, for example.

  5. April 12, 2013 12:28 am

    I’m not disputing that there are deep literary, stylistic, and theological connections between the Septuagint and New Testament — I’m just not sure if it matters if they are in one volume or two. There is no new editorial material in the combined volume, right?

    Let’s compare prices:

    Christianbook: 39.99 (NA28) + 49.99 (Rahlfs) = 89.98 vs. 139.99 (Biblia Graeca)

    List price: 59.95 (NA28) + 79.95 (Rahlfs) = 139.90 vs. 179.95 (Biblia Graeca)

    So, we are paying substantially more ($40-50) for a less convenient omnibus with no new editorial material? You’ll pardon my lack of excitement, I hope.

    PS: I do own Barnstone’s book. If I recall correctly, the only Septuagintal work it contains is 4 Maccabees (which is barely even in the Septuagint — many Septuagints exclude) and nothing from the New Testament. It is interesting though.

  6. April 12, 2013 8:21 am

    Thanks for the comparison. Yes, there’s nothing to get particularly excited about – except there’s some recognition, perhaps, of a place (in the marketplace of literary scholarship maybe hopefully) for a placement of the books of the Septuagint together with the books and letters and such of the New Testament. My only reason for bringing up the Barnstone volume was (not to say that he’s collected the LXX texts completely anywhere) but to say that there’s something about having disparate texts assembled and bound as a unit that is not only convenient but also is compellingly rhetorical, as sets of texts that may otherwise only be more seen as always apart. There’s no other reason to put them in just one volume. In history, in Greece relatively recently for example, binding the LXX with the NT is much more for religious and dogmatic and doctrinal and liturgical and sect purposes. Barnstone, of course, is not doing that. He’s looking at the interrelationship of various and different texts along literary, linguistic, and translational lines.

  7. April 12, 2013 4:27 pm

    What would excite me is a Hebrew-Greek diglot; or even better, a parallel Hebrew-Greek-NRSV-NETS. (Especially since the NETS was designed to parallel the NRSV; e.g., using similar word choices when the translation was “literal” and different word choices to alert the reader to place where translation varies.) One was published by Oxford for the Psalms, and I bemoaned its disappearance here.

    There are technical problems — the NETS translates both the Old Greek and Alpha Texts in many places, and it sometimes uses the Göttingen as a basis and sometimes Rahlfs. My sense is that these problems could be easily overcome (one could simply designate a preferred Septuagint text; the difference between the Göttingen and Rahlfs is not so great as to render such a work nonsensical.)

    Now that would provide real insights — because comparing the translation on the same page spread is very different than comparing among multiple books.

    Traditional Rabbinic Bibles, for example, traditionally have Hebrew, an Aramaic translation, and multiple parallel medieval commentaries, and are very successful in engaging readers. I have also seen a nice parallel of Targum Onkelos, English translation of Onkelos, Masoretic Text, English translation of Hebrew, Rashi (Hebrew), and English commentary.

    The questions about the evolution of Koine and how Hebraisms worked their way into the New Testament are important, of course; but for me it is much more interesting to see how the Septuagint translators worked with the Hebrew, and where they differ in interpretation from the Hebrew text we have today.

    An analogy: Almost all of the versions of Divine Comedy that I own are in 3-6 volume editions; and I’ve never felt stymied by that. However, I dislike versions that do not include an Italian diglot; even though we may not be expert in Italian, at least we can see what Dante was doing with rhythm and rhyme in his version, and because so many words are cognate, even an English non-Italian reader can make out part of what Dante is saying.

    So for me, diglots are useful, but omnibus editions don’t get my motor running.

  8. April 12, 2013 10:32 pm

    Theophrastus,
    I’d also be excited to see the diglot and the parallel Bible you describe. And I agree that single-cover though multivolume books can feel unwieldy. But Christians as you know have a long tradition of the “old testament” and “new testament” bound together as one. Much rarer is to find on this side of the Atlantic a Septuagint bound with the NT. The value of that over the traditional Christian Hebrew Bible translation plus the Greek New Testament translation is that the Greek of the one really depends on the Greek of the other. I’m typing via an iPhone very quickly with little time. I wanted to reply also to say that abram kj has posted an update

    http://abramkj.com/2013/04/12/an-all-greek-bible-yep-its-real-cover-image/

    He links to a bookseller that offers the following description.

    “This edition combines the Rahlfs-Hanhart Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) with the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. A one-of-a-kind, useful tool for pastors, scholars, and students.
    – Includes critical apparatus, cross-references, and much more.

    Product Details

    Publisher: German Bible Society
    Publication info: forthcoming fall 2013
    Bibliographic info: 3126 pages
    Language(s): English and Greek

    Cover: cloth
    ISBN: 1-61970-127-8
    ISBN13: 978-1-61970-127-4

  9. April 13, 2013 9:25 am

    I’m curious about the “cross-references, and much more” that are promised.

    As JKG points out, I am interested in this largely for its “rhetorical” statement, but it’s also true that anyone using Bible software basically already has this (and more!).

    Theophrastus, I finally found myself a used copy of that Psalter. You’ve seen Zondervan’s (now out-of-print) OT triglot, I take it? Huge and bulky and not the clearest font, but at least it exists. Pretty cheap used on Amazon.

    I, too, would love to see a Greek-English LXX that uses NETS. What I *really* pine for is a Reader’s LXX with vocabulary helps footnoted, as Zondervan has for the Hebrew OT and as UBS has for the Greek NT. Now that would be cool!

  10. April 14, 2013 4:10 pm

    Did you like that parallel Psalter? I’m a huge fan.

    I did not know about Zondervan’s OT triglot — thanks for letting me know about it. I’ve ordered a used copy.

    I’m assuming the cross-references are those already included in the NA28 and Rahlfs.

  11. April 14, 2013 4:22 pm

    Yes! I really like that Psalter. It’s great.

    Glad you found a Zondervan copy. And good point about the cross-references–I just hope the “much more” in the item description means “more” than what currently exists with the two separate volumes. Though I’ll confess I’m not sure what that would be… or what would be useful along those lines.

  12. April 14, 2013 7:27 pm

    Theophrastus and Abram,

    Depending on how “cross-references … already included in the NA28 and Rahlfs” read, this makes the single-volume more attractive. But if there are not cross-references from the LXX to the NT and vice versa, then no real value is added to the one-cover book.

    Having the Septuagint with the New Testament (especially when the latter quotes the former so very much) heightens the rhetorical effects. “Is the LXX really ‘Christian’?” may be one question Greek readers might ask when reading through. Why are things so different in the NT Greek when it’s appropriating the LXX Greek? The very audacity of the gospel of John, for example, to start Ἐν ἀρχῇ for example. The very audacity of the gospel of Matthew to “quote” Isaiah as using ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει for Mary the virgin mother. The very audacity of Paul to call Jesus a Χριστός, the Χριστός, which is what King David was. The very audacity of the writer of the Book of Hebrews to name one Jesus over the other Joshua (in Hebrews 4) — or did I get that reversed (and shouldn’t it be Ἰησοῦς for the one in the Old Testament?)?

    A single volume has advantages of showing the flaws in one place. Take, for example, the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics single volume of The Iliad & the Odyssey. Michael Dirda agrees to write an introduction for this, an edition of Samuel Butler’s translation of Homer. The interesting thing is that Dirda does not even like Butler’s Englishing as much as he does others’; in an interview for the Washington Post, he’s said:

    Iliad–Richmond Lattimore is the classic in verse, as is Robert Fitzgerald’s version of The Odyssey. Robert Fagles recent versions of both books are also excellent. Did you know that T.E. Lawrence–Lawrence of Arabia–did a very good prose translation of The Iliad?

    And one reader reviewing this single volume on amazon.com claims, in this one book, that Butler’s English is inconsistent:

    One glaring problem is that while the Iliad follows the original Greek (and hence the Greek names), the Odyssey suddenly changes and Zeus becomes Jove, Poseidon becomes Neptune and so on. This makes the story extremely difficult to follow as every character “changes name”.

    Of course, this reader reviewer isn’t reading closely enough, yet. And yet, she or he has the book in her or his hands to get at exactly what changes, whether sloppy variations or intended, Butler makes within and between the Iliad and the Odyssey.

    So this is the sort of thing a single volume book showing the varied Greek of the LXX and of the NT might help with.

  13. murrough mcbride permalink
    June 28, 2013 8:39 am

    What is needed is a 1 volume Commentary on all of the Books of the LXX, which will take into account that the first Christians used this version as their Bible, as did the Jews.
    Without the Septuagint none of the core beliefs of Christians , such as the ‘Virgin Birth’
    would not have been possible, because the Hebrew Masoretic text has a contradictory view
    and textual criticism would uphold this variance as dynamic equivalence – translation into another language – can play havoc with the original literal intent.

  14. June 28, 2013 9:52 am

    Murrough,

    Thanks for the comment. Stay tuned for the blogger reviews of the new to be released When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible:

    http://abramkj.com/2013/06/26/when-god-spoke-greek-upcoming-book-blog-tour/

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