Book Announcement: Postclassical Greek and Septuagint Lexicography

Just a short but exciting bit of news to share today. I’m very pleased to report that my new book Postclassical Greek and Septuagint Lexicography has now been published with SBL Press in the Septuagint and Cognate Studies series. This book is the “official” — and only lightly revised — version of my doctoral thesis, which I completed in 2018 at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of James (Jim) K. Aitken (see below). (more…)

Article Contribution to SBL Volume

I was glad to finally receive proofs last week of a piece I wrote nearly three years ago. Over the summer of 2013 I conducted research for a paper that I presented in Munich at the triennial IOSOT congress, in the IOSCS Section. This work was aimed at preparing myself for the sort of research I am currently involved in with my dissertation, namely Septuagint lexicography and the textual history of the book of Judges. You can read a bit about my preparations and reflections on the congress if you want.

The paper, which is entitled “Lexical Possibilities in Septuagint Research: Revision and Expansion,” picks up the lexicographical torch from John A. L. Lee’s dissertation by reinvestigating Koine documentary evidence contemporary with the translation of the Septuagint (~3rd c. BCE – 1st c. CE) for occurrances of ὁράω and βλέπω. Lee found a semantic shift and replacement between the former and latter in his own work, and I basically set out to find new instances of the words in the evidence since Lee to see if his conclusions hold up. Spoiler: they do.

Here’s the paper abstract:

This paper reviews the findings of John A. L. Lee regarding historical linguistic investigation of Koine Greek documentary evidence in his published dissertation. With the passage of over three decades since Lee’s work, much more papyrological and inscriptional evidence has surfaced. Moreover, a significant amount of the data is now digitized and searchable. Therefore, this paper begins to pursue the course set out by Lee himself in the introduction to the published version of his dissertation where he suggests it could surely “benefit from revision or expansion” in light of new data. To do so, here the digital databases of documentary evidence are investigated for occurrences of ὁράω and βλέπω that are additional to those found by Lee. After assessing the use of the two words in new evidence, a “revision” of Lee’s conclusions is offered. Even in light of new data, Lee’s conclusions prove remarkably accurate, suggesting the potential of his methodology for further application and even “expansion.” Accordingly, this paper also discusses the difficulties inherent in documentary evidence research and possible ways forward, with particular attention to the double text of LXX-Judges.

Me right between some schnitzel and a stein of Munich’s finest

If you’re really interested, you can read the paper on Academia.edu. Seeing as I just got proofs this week, it will hopefully be published before the SBL conference in November. It will appear in XV Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS), Munich, 2013. Edited by Wolfgang Kraus, Martin Meiser, and Michaël van der Meer. SBLSCS 64. Atlanta, Ga., SBL Press, 2016.

A Brief Note on Epigraphy and Rare Forms

I have mentioned in the past that my research concerns Koine Greek documentary evidence. Among other things (e.g., ostraca, graffiti, mummy cartonnage), this includes primarily papyri and inscriptions from the Ptolemaic period of Egypt. Not infrequently I search papyri.info (see posts here and here) or epigraphy.packhum.org to see what there is to see in terms of a particular word’s usage.

SEG 15:678

Today I was searching for occurrences of the word λάπτω, which occurs in the LXX only in Judges 7. There, in both A and B texts of Rahlfs’s Septuaginta the word occurs in vv. 5 (2x), 6, and 7. It is thus a rare word, at least in terms of its Septuagintal use.

In the process of searching out the various morphological permutations of the word, I found one inscription that looked promising: SEG 15:678 (here). Here is a transcription and the beginnings of my translation:

[—]ντων, λαμβάνειν δὲ τὰ δέρματα κ[αὶ] τὰ ἄλλα γέρεα· ἢν ἓν θ[ύη]ται, λά[ψε]-[ται γλῶσ]σαν, ὀσφὺν δασέαν, ὤρην· ἢν δὲ πλέω θύηται λάψεται ἀπ’ ἐκάστου ὀσφὺ[ν]

[δασ]έ̣αν καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ κωλῆν μίαν ἀπὸ πάντων· καὶ τῶν ἄλλων θεῶν τῶν

[ἐν]τεμενίων ὅσων ἱερᾶται ὁ ἱέρεως, λάψεται τὰ γέρεα τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ κωλῆν ἀντὶ

[τῆ]ς ὤρης ἢμ μὴ βασιλεὺς λαμβάνηι· ἢν δὲ εὐστὸν θύηι ἡ πόλις λάψεται γλῶσ-

σαν, ὀσφὺν δασέαν, ὤρην· ἢν ξένος ἱεροποιῆι τῶι Ἀπόλλωνι, προϊερᾶσθαι τῶ[ν]

ἀστῶν ὃν ἂν θέληι ὁ ξένος, διδόναι δὲ τῶι ἱερεῖ τὰ γέρεα ἅπερ ἡ πόλις διδοῖ π[άν]-

[τα] χωρὶ[ς] δέρματος· ἢν δὲ τοῖς Ἀπολλωνίοις θύηι̣ ξέ̣ν̣ο̣ς̣ π̣[ροϊερᾶσθαι —]

[a]ll, and to take both the skins and the other perquisites. If one is to be burnt up, he will take the tongue, the hairy loin, [another piece]; and the rest are to be burned, from each a hairy loin and a tongue and one thigh from all. And the priest will administrate over the many other gods in the temeniōn, [and] will receive

Morphology Hallucinations

If you haven’t already checked, λάπτω means “to lap up [with the tongue.” It occurs in the Gideon narrative when he pares down his men by checking who drinks from a brook with his hand, and who laps the water up like a dog (7:5). It’s a surprisingly well established word in classical Greek (e.g. Homer Il. 16.161; Aristophanes Nub. 811; Aristotle Hist. an. 595a7). And I was tempted on the basis of the use of γλῶσσα in the inscription to think that I had found the one instance of it’s use in the Koine inscriptional data. The content was just bizzarre enough to sway me into thinking that “lapping with tongues” was plausible in the context.

But alas, as I translated I realized that what I thought was λάπτω in third singular future middle indicative was in fact λαμβάνω (3rd sg fut ind mid). The forms are identical.

Maybe next time, λάπτω.