ETS 2017 Septuagint Consultation Review

Just a few weeks ago the annual conferences of the biblical studies societies were underway in New England. As I have posted about in the past, I have the pleasure of chairing the Septuagint Studies consultation at the annual conference of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). We have a great team of doctoral students and scholars on the steering committee who are interested in promoting study of of the Septuagint in this venue.

Thus far, we’ve had some great success. In our first year as a consultation we had a stellar panel of presenters, and for that reason we had great turnout. You can read a review of last year’s session here.

A Brief Note about the IOSCS

Why yes, that is a copy of Rahlfs

People who read this blog will know I think the Septuagint is an important aspect of biblical scholarship broadly speaking. There are lots of reasons for that, including its linguistic value as a Koine text, its text critical value for the Old Testament, and its role in the formation of the New Testament and use in the Early Church. At SBL last month someone asked me, “Why should I care about the Septuagint?” My answer: “Paul cared about the Septuagint” (this was a New Testament scholar – see what I did there?). Now, there’s a lot that is fundamentally anachronistic with putting it that way, but I think it conveys the point.

But I digress. Our Septuagint Studies consultation at ETS exists to bring this important field to attention in a society where it otherwise receives very little. In doing so one thing needs to be stressed: If you are interested in the Septuagint – as a hobbyist, student, or biblical scholar – you should absolutely join the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS).

Membership is ridiculously cheap (~$20) and you get the top-tier journal in the discipline at your doorstep.

The 2017 ETS Septuagint Studies Session

Part of the draw to these sessions is of course the excellent scholars we have lined up on the panel. This year our attendance at the first paper was quite literally standing-room-only. With the size of the room that put us over sixty people strong for John Meade‘s paper, “The Septuagint and the Biblical Canon.” John is a good friend and blogger at another site you need to know about: LXX Studies. He is also the co-author of a recent book on the biblical canon, which you can read about over at the ETC blog.

Our second paper was presented by Marieke Dhont. I first met Marieke while she was a doctoral student at UCL working on the book of Job in Greek. Her dissertation, Style and Context of Old Greek Job, is forthcoming with Brill and obviously you should ask for it for your birthday. Oh, and as a small side note, Marieke was just named a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, and will soon take up residence in the worldwide capital of Septuagint scholarship, namely Cambridge. (In case you didn’t know, receiving a British Academy fellowship is just about the most prestigious thing a junior scholar can do, so a major congratulations to Marieke!)

Thirdly, we had the pleasure of hearing from Peter J. Gentry, who is a longtime and well-loved professor of Old Testament at SBTS. I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know Peter through the IOSCS in years past (and, at one point, even ended up wearing his Dead Sea Scrolls tie during my presentation in San Antonio). His paper was entitled “The Septuagint and Origen’s Hexapla,” and it was as complex and fascinating as you might imagine.

Gentry is uniquely qualified for such a topic. Having studied under J. W. Wevers, he is for that reason truly a rare breed in Old Testament scholarship. If you need some kind of proof of this, look no further than his recently completed (forthcoming) critical text of LXX-Ecclesiastes in the Göttingen edition. This work has been based at the Septuaginta Unternehmen in Germany, the venue for landmark work by scholars such as Paul Anton de Lagarde (1827–1891), Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918), Alfred Rahlfs (1865–1935), and Robert Hanhart (1925-).

Finally, we heard from Caleb Friedeman, a current doctoral student studying under Nicholas Perrin at Wheaton College. Caleb is more focused in New Testament, and his dissertation is entitled “The Revelation of the Messiah: The Christological Mystery of Luke 1:2 and Its Unveiling in Luke-Acts.” The paper he presented, however, was a fascinating investigation of Daniel 4:28 (OG).

Looking Towards 2018

There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that 2018 is the final year of the Septuagint Studies consultation at ETS. The good news, however, is that the steering committee is leaning towards applying for renewal. With the high turnout and general interest we’re seeing, it only makes sense.

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