Invitation to the Septuagint, Reflections

At the suggestion of my Early Christianity professor, I picked up this volume from the library:

Invitation to the Septuagint, by Karen Jobes and Moisés Silva.

The book has been a fantastic read so far. It’s definitely the best primer on the Septuagint that I’m aware of. More than anything, it has impressed on me the deep complexity of text transmission in antiquity. We have a Greek translation done over several hundred years by various groups of people. The Hebrew text it reflects did not always follow the Masoretic Text that was standardized in the second century AD, which our English bibles largely follow today. In addition, the translation itself has been subject to many revisions over the centuries, making it extraordinarily difficult to talk about the original LXX. It’s a textual critic’s dream or nightmare depending on perspective. It hammers the statement in the epistle to the Hebrews home even more, “God, having in the past spoken … at many times and in various ways.”

With that said, it’s very important to understand the Septuagint when doing study of early Christianity. Most of the early Church’s exegesis was on the Septuagint, including much the exegesis in the New Testament. Many of the debates of the early Church with the Synagogue revolved around its use. The issues around the LXX attracted some of the greatest minds in the early Church: Justin Martyr, Origen, Jerome, Augustine, and others. Clearly, it’s an important document!

As for the book, I’ve just finished part 1 and it’s been very informative. Part 1 has covered the history of the Septuagint from the mid third century BC up to the modern critical editions of the text. Each chapter starts off with a pair of definitions or terms important to the coming chapter.

Part 2 covers the Septuagint in Biblical Studies, and Part 3 covers the current state of Septuagint studies. These will be more difficult, but hopefully I won’t have jumped in off the deep end ;-) I look forward to going through the rest of the book.


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