Occasionally someone will ask me what the best way is to get an introduction to Septuagint studies. Most of the time my response is something like “Here are five books to read.” The reason is that there are very few institutions where LXX features in the curriculum in any meaningful way. As a result, there are very few places to go to take an actual course in LXX studies, much less an introductory course. Another reason is the small number of scholars specifically trained in LXX to offer courses in the first place!
In this post, then, I will review the few exceptions to this rule in North America. Think of it as a Resource Review of graduate programs. Hopefully this will help those interested save some time scouring the internet at random (which is what I did).
Septuagint Studies in the States
There are two programs to mention, which feature prominently because of the people at the helm of each. If you are reading this and know of others I have overlooked, please let me know or post to the comments.
1) Peter Gentry – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Firstly, there is a community of Septuagint scholarship at SBTS under the leadership of Dr. Peter Gentry. Gentry was the last student to study under John W. Wevers at the former bastion of LXX studies in North America, the University of Toronto. When both Pietersma and Wevers were at that institution, they produced a number of now senior scholars in LXX studies, and Gentry is among them. (Some others will feature below.)
Gentry’s interests are wide-ranging and extend well beyond the Septuagint. He is involved in the Göttingen Septuagint Series (Ecclesiasties, Proverbs), and takes particular interest in Hexapla studies. If you thought the Septuagint was obscure, the Hexapla is even more so. It is a terribly interesting, and terribly complex, aspect of LXX history, and for that reason the discipline benefits greatly from competent scholars like Gentry.
He and others are currently involved in the Hexapla Project of the IOSCS, and for that reason many of his doctoral students also work in all things hexaplaric. Gentry also teaches graduate level courses in LXX, such as his Septuagint Seminar. So although SBTS does not offer a full graduate degree in LXX studies per se, it is certainly an option for focusing in a ThM or PhD.
2) Karen Jobes – Wheaton College Graduate School
Secondly, there is Dr. Karen Jobes at Wheaton College Graduate School. Jobes is a product of my own institution in days gone by, Westminster Theological Seminary, where she completed her doctorate under Moisés Silva. She keeps a website here.
Her primary professional interests focus upon New Testament, particularly the General Epistles. In conversation with her, she once told me that Septuagint was her “night job.” Considering she’s so productive in her NT day job, it’s remarkable how active she also is in LXX studies. Her and Silva’s Invitation to the Septuagint is always one of those five books I recommend for introduction to the discipline. Rumor has it there is a revision of this volume underway.
Like SBTS, there is no full-fledged LXX degree at Wheaton. However, Jobes offers a course on Greek Exegesis in the Septuagint. So Wheaton is another option for tailoring your focus on LXX studies in either an MA or a PhD program.
[Update: Dr. Jobes has now retired from teaching as of 2016]
3) Other Scholars of Note
There are other North American scholars who are doing excellent work in Septuagint as well. Some of them include J. Ross Wagner at Duke Divinity School, Benjamin G. Wright at Lehigh University, and W. Edward Glenny at University of Northwestern. I did not feature these scholars as prominently since they do not offer actual courses in Septuagint, as far as I know. Wagner, however, takes doctoral students focusing in LXX studies.
1) [Update: PhD Program in Septuagint at McMaster Divinity College]
As of early 2017, McMaster Divinity college is launching a full-fledged PhD program in Septuagint. You can read about that here.
2) The J. W. W. Institute for Septuagint Studies
There is one other excellent place to mention, namely The John William Wevers Institute for Septuagint Studies. The Institute is located under the auspices of Trinity Western University in Vancouver, B.C. In the post-Wevers-Pietersma era at the University of Toronto, this is the single most LXX-concentrated faculty that I can think of, with four highly qualified scholars. Better still, both Wevers and Pietersma have donated their extensive personal libraries (and a large endowment) to further LXX studies at TWU.
The Institute’s scholars include Drs. Robert Hiebert (director), Larry Perkins, Dirk Büchner, and Peter Flint. You’ll also have valuable access to Cameron Boyd-Taylor, currently a research assistant at the Institute. Hiebert, incidentally, is also the joint-editor-in-chief of the SBL Commentary on the Septuagint. Each of these professors’ research interests can be viewed on their respective faculty pages. The unique aspect of the Institute is that it is the only place in North America where a full-fledged Septuagint degree is offered, as both a Master of Theological Studies and the shorter Master of Theology. [Update: Dr. Flint passed away in late 2016]
Furthermore, the Institute for Septuagint Studies typically offers a week-long Septuagint seminar in May or June each year. I participated in the first such seminar in May 2013 (read about it here) and again in 2016. This is a wonderful opportunity to study LXX in taught format under some excellent scholars. I hope for others’ sake they continue with this seminar in the future. Speaking of which, there have been efforts, unsuccessful so far, to offer a PhD through TWU as well, which could be a great opportunity if it ever comes to fruition.
Part of what I especially like about the Institute is that it is literally surrounded by seminaries. TWU is part of the ACTS coalition of seminaries in Canada, and hosts a number of them in one building where the Institute is also located. Where the Septuagint is, the Church (rightly) is also.
Stay tuned for further Resource Reviews as they come…