Resource Reviews

Supervisors & Programs for Septuagint Studies – Part I

I’ve said before that Septuagint studies is gaining interest. Many of my regular readers here are (I presume) academics already in the discipline, but there are also quite a few graduate students thinking about becoming involved. I know this because I receive a fairly steady stream of emails from readers in graduate school thinking about Septuagint as a possible area of doctoral study.

I think I should say that I welcome such emails. But I repeat myself a lot. My goal is for this blog to be a resource for people interested in this important and growing area of Old Testament biblical scholarship.

Getting Centralized

Along those lines, this post is meant to help myself as much as it is meant to help others. One of the most frequent questions I get is: “Who is supervising topics in Septuagint?” or the related question: “What schools are known for Septuagint studies?”

Today I am finally making an attempt to centralize that information. This should have happened a long time ago, and I’m sorry. Actually not really – this is a service so you’re welcome.

Note that this post is just initial, the first of (at least) two parts. I have also created a page on this blog dedicated to this topic so that I can continue to add to the information provided here. If you know of scholars who I missed (or if you are such a scholar), please comment below!

There is a number of ways I could have organized this information. But I’ve chosen to go with geography rather than, say, subject matter or degree type or program format, etc. etc. I attempt to provide relevant information for each entry. Otherwise these are not ordered in any particular way.

Scholars in North America

I have made an attempt at centralizing North American Septuagint scholars and programs in the past (see here), but this post is intended to be a more comprehensive list. Plus, things have changed since that prior post, most notably the retirement of Karen Jobes from Wheaton, and the semi-retirement (?) of Peter Gentry from SBTS.

Duke University

Duke University offers graduate degrees in religious studies at the University and Divinity School where it is possible to study Septuagint. The two scholars of note are:

  1. J. Ross Wagner – Wagner is at Duke Divinity School and is a scholar of New Testament, specializing in the Pauline corpus and Septuagint studies. Wagner supervises graduate and postgraduate students who are able to minor in LXX studies.
  2. Melvin K. H. Peters – Peters is part of Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and, although he is not currently supervising doctoral students, he is part of the generation of Septuagint scholars trained at the University of Toronto. He offers a regular seminar in Septuagint studies that is part of the coursework in Duke’s degree programs.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Not all my readers will be interested in attending a conservative baptist seminary for doctoral work. But for those who are part of the evangelical world, SBTS is an excellent option for its robust academic tradition. Aside from the MDiv degree, there is also an MA and PhD program in which it is possible to focus on Septuagint studies. This program has produced scholars such as John Meade (Phoenix Seminary). But the SBTS Septuagint engine runs largely on the power of one man:

Peter Gentry – Gentry is an Old Testament scholar who trained under Albert Pietersma at the University of Toronto in its heyday of Septuagint scholarship. His program is one of the only ones of its kind in North America, and he is supervising students in the topic (I believe) on a limited basis. Gentry tends to focus on detailed text-critical topics, such as the Hexapla, and is currently working on the Göttingen critical edition of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

McMaster Divinity College (Hamilton, ON)

Another good option for graduate and postgraduate work in North American is the program offered at McMaster Divinity College in Canada, which is technically a doctoral degree in Christian Theology. This is a new program as of 2017, which I’ve written about in more detail here. You can see the full list of scholars involved there, but the main scholars involved are:

  1. Stanley Porter – Porter is a New Testament scholar well known for many things, and among them is his work in Septuagint scholarship. At the moment he is general editor of the Brill Septuagint Commentary Series (SEPT), and he is known for his work in systemic functional linguistics.
  2. Mark Boda – Boda is an Old Testament scholar who is also well known, especially for his work in the Hebrew Bible and prophets. However he is also involved in the SEPT series mentioned above, producing the LXX-Psalms commentary, and is supervising Septuagint topics.

Trinity Western University (Langley, BC)

On the other side of Canada from McMaster is Trinity Western University, just outside of Vancouver. One of the draws of this program is The John William Wevers Institute for Septuagint Studies located on campus, which is part of the legacy of both Wevers and Albert Pietersma who have donated their extensive personal libraries (and a large endowment). Unfortunately, TWU does not issue doctoral degrees, but it makes an excellent option for masters-level study. Furthermore, the Institute typically offers a week-long Septuagint seminar in May or June each year. I participated in the first one back in May 2013 (read about it here) and again in 2016. The Wevers Institute is directed by:

Robert Hiebert – Hiebert is a senior scholar in the field and currently the co-editor-in-chief of the SBL Commentary on the Septuagint, as well as conducting research on the Greek Psalter. Graduate students in the Master of Theological Studies and the Master of Theology programs at ACTS and in the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies program at TWU may take courses and specialize in the area of Septuagint Studies. See also this interview.

Other scholars who you will be able to benefit from at TWU include:

  1. Larry Perkins
  2. Dirk Büchner

Scholars in the United Kingdom

Part of the reason for my own decision to study the Septuagint abroad was driven by the fact that many scholars in the discipline are located outside of North America. So the rest of this post and the next will discuss scholars in the discipline in other parts of the world.

Although things have changed slightly since I was looking for a program, the situation is largely the same today. That is, Septuagint scholarship is fairly centralized in the United Kingdom and Europe (at least if active participation in the IOSCS is taken as a litmus test) so if you are looking for more options than those available in North America, you’ll need to consider an international move. But if you can manage it, you’ll have some of the best universities in the world to consider:

University of Cambridge

Although I am admittedly biased, the University of Cambridge has a lot to offer. Aside from having one of the very best collection of libraries in the world, the university also hosts a wide array of respected scholars in parallel disciplines like linguistics and Classics. Some will also be attracted to the presence of one of the best biblical studies research libraries in the world, Tyndale House, where I do much of my work.

The main program of interest at Cambridge will be the PhD, but it is not uncommon to first enter the one-year MPhil if extra training would be useful. The main Septuagint scholar here is

  1. James K. Aitken – Aitken is Reader in Hebrew and Early Jewish Studies at the Faculty of Divinity. As a trained Classicist and expert in Judaism, Jim offers a unique perspective in Septuagint studies that seeks to locate the translation firmly within its Hellenistic social context. See also this interview.
  2. Geoffrey Kahn – Another potential supervisor is Kahn, who is Regius Professor of Hebrew in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (FAMES). Kahn is not an active Septuagint scholar per se, but supervises dissertations that are indirectly related, as the majority of his research is in linguistic studies of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic.

University of Oxford

Another (slightly less) excellent university for Septuagint studies is Oxford. Like Cambridge, students interested in graduate studies at Oxford will want to look into the doctoral program called the DPhil. There are two scholars working in the discipline:

  1. Alison Salvesen – Salvesen is Professor of Early Judaism and Christianity in the Faculty of Theology and Religion and a fellow of the the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Her work is largely related to the Hexapla and reception history of the Septuagint.
  2. Jan Joosten – Joosten is a highly prolific scholar, the Regius Professor of Hebrew in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, and current president of the IOSCS. His research interests are quite wide, and much of his writing is available on Academia. See also this interview.

University of Edinburgh

Turning northward to Scotland, Edinburgh makes another good place for Septuagint studies. Aside from offering an amazing city, the University’s School of Divinity has at least one scholar who could supervise:

Timothy Lim – Lim is Professor in Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at Edinburgh, whose research is focused largely in Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins. Given this work, Lim would most likely be a good supervisor for Septuagint topics more closely related to parabiblical literature, textual criticism, canon, or transmission history.

University of Glasgow

As a final candidate for you to consider as a prospective postgraduate student, there is Glasgow. At the School of Critical Studies there, you should consider studying with:

Sean Adams – Adams is Lecturer in New Testament and Ancient Culture whose interests include intersections of literature and culture in Hellenistic Judaism. His work situates the New Testament in its Graeco-Roman and Jewish contexts, including Christian reception of the Septuagint.

Expanding the List

Now, I am certain I’ve left out fairly obvious people for no good reason. Again, please leave a comment below if you know of others that are not listed here, or if I have given inaccurate information above.

Another issue I’ve been thinking about this week – as I’ve been attending the Being Jewish-Writing Greek conference here in Cambridge – is that there are a number of scholars whose direct area of expertise is closer to “Hellenistic” Judaism. People like Hindy Najman, Sylvie Honigman, and others who are working at the intersection of Greek philology, Judaism, and literary studies would also make capable supervisors for Septuagint studies.

While many of those scholars could be included here, I have attempted – right or wrong – to stay roughly within the circle of the IOSCS with which I’m mostly familiar. If you feel strongly about me expanding beyond that general rule, let me know and start naming names for inclusion!

Also note: Part II covering Europe and the rest of the world is coming soon(ish).

LXX Scholar Interview: Dr. Cécile Dogniez

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Today is yet another installment in my series of interviews with notable scholars in Septuagint studies. I am very pleased to introduce today’s featured scholar, Dr. Cécile Dogniez, part of the Antiquité classique et tardive (Classical and Late Antiquity) research center at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. Inaugurated by Dr. Marguerite Harl in 1984, this group is now headed up by Dr. Olivier Munnich.

Dr. Dogniez’s research is focused upon the Greek bible and Hellenistic Judaism, and she is very active in the scholarly community both in France and elsewhere. Some of her better known work in the realm of Septuagint studies is as an editor and contributor to La Bible d’Alexandrie and various roles in the IOSCS and its affiliate projects.

Now, Dr. Dogniez was gracious enough to do this interview for us in French. In order to make it most widely readable, however, I have translated her manuscript into English. If you prefer to read her interview in French, you can do that here.

The Interview

1) Can you describe how you first became interested in LXX studies, and your training for the discipline?

I originally received a classical education at the Université de Tours where I completed an MA (Master I) on Herodotus under the supervision of Gilles Dorival, himself a student of Marguerite Harl at the Université de la Sorbonne. A few years later, he suggested that I apply for a position at the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique [National Center for Scientific Research]) to work with Marguerite Harl on the Septuagint, and specifically the French translation project of this “Greek Bible,” which I had never heard of before. A professor of Greek Patristics at the time, Marguerite Harl had continually interacted with the Septuagint as a major reference text for the Greek Fathers of late Antiquity and Jewish authors like Philo of Alexandria, [and] extensively quoted by Christian theologians. She was reading, translating, and commenting on it with her students at the Sorbonne.

Astonished by the ignorance – at least in France in the ’50s into the ’80s – of this important Jewish text written in Greek, she undertook, with the encouragement of Dominique Barthélemy, to offer the French reader an annotated French translation of the Bible. So I collaborated on the first volume of La Bible d’Alexandrie series [BdA], Genesis, published in 1986 by Editions du Cerf. In 1987 I completed my PhD at the Sorbonne in Greek Studies on the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy, and in 1992 I coauthored with Marguerite Harl volume 5 of La Bible d’Alexandrie on the same book. Our close daily collaboration, conducted at the Sorbonne or at her home, where I spent hours (invaluable for me to my research training in the field of Septuagint studies) reading the Greek text of the Bible, and benefiting from her not-yet-published research, continued well beyond her retirement. Marguerite Harl provided me with so many insights, and I gained such clarity from her deep familiarity with the texts! (Que de clés Marguerite Harl ne m’a-t-elle pas données, que de lumières n’ai-je pas reçues de sa science généreuse!)

2) How have you participated in the discipline over the course of your teaching and writing career? 

In addition to my work on La Bible d’Alexandrie, I undertook the task of continuing the bibliographical work started by Sebastian P. Brock, Charles T. Fritsch, and Sydney Jellicoe, who had edited in 1973 the first bibliography of the Septuagint dealing with the period from 1900 to 1969. My book, Bibliography of the Septuagint (1970-1993) (Vetus Testamentum Supplements 60), was published by Brill in 1995, with a preface by Pierre-Maurice Bogaert. To create this bibliography, I benefited from the erudition and scholarly generosity of a good number of Septuagintalists, both in France and abroad, where scholars such as Sebastian P. Brock, Florentino García Martínez, Maurice Gilbert, Takamitsu Muraoka, Emanuel Tov, Arie van der Kooij, Natalio Fernández Marcos and John W. Wevers patiently advised me at various stages of my work and provided valuable assistance. 

It was around this time that I began to work on the corpus of the Twelve Prophets. My first presentation at an international conference, the 9th Congress of the IOSCS in Cambridge (July 1995), focused on the use of the term παντοκράτωρ, of which the Twelve Prophets provide the largest number of occurrences to render the Hebrew expression “God of armies/hosts” [‎אלהי־צבאות].
Subsequently, in addition to my participation in the publication of 2 volumes in ‎ La Bible d’Alexandrie on the book of the Twelve (Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah released in 2007), I had several articles published on the Twelve Prophets, while maintaining my interest in the Pentateuch.

3) How have you integrated LXX studies into your work as a professor?

As a researcher, in France, I am not required to teach. However, for several years, from 2006 to 2013, I taught the Septuagint at the EPHE (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes) in Paris, as part of a seminar on the history of Judaism during the Hellenistic and Roman period. Starting with readings from the Prophets, I proposed to explore issues related to the linguistic and historical aspects of the Greek text. I was also occasionally able to lead a seminar on the Septuagint in various other French or foreign universities, such as Lille, Metz or Lausanne. These last few years, I have been responsible, with Bruno Meynadier, for the organization of conferences on the Greek Bible of the Seventy in Paris (at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de la rue d’Ulm, then at the Maison de la Recherche), conferences created during the 1980s by Marguerite Harl and continued under the leadership of Gilles Dorival and Olivier Munnich.

4) How has the field changed since you’ve been involved?

Septuagint scholarship has, in my opinion, developed significantly since the 1980s. In France, the Septuagint was often ignored and of little interest because it was considered an inaccurate (infidèle) translation and also written in bad Greek – in any case for a good number of Classically-trained Hellenists. But it was also a text still rarely taken into consideration within the Catholic Church in particular, which only recognized the Vulgate and therefore the Hebrew text, and also in contemporary Jewish contexts, where this Jewish Bible was voluntarily abandoned to Christians because they believed they had been dispossessed of it at the beginning of the Christian era.

Furthermore, the idea of translating a translation seemed to some like nonsense. Now it happens that, following La Bible d’Alexandrie series (a pioneer in this area), other translations followed. In English we have NETS, in German we have the LXX.D, in Spanish under the leadership of Natalio Fernández Marcos [La Biblia Griega], in Italian, in Romanian, and some that I am certainly forgetting.

The perspective for studying the Septuagint has also changed, especially since the Qumran discoveries. These demonstrated that the LXX can no longer to be considered an isolated, unfaithful text, but rather a witness to the fluidity of the Hebrew text.

Finally, modern research in translation theory has likewise been profitable for the LXX. In France, for example, the LXX was part of the discussions at the [annual conference of the] Assises de la traduction littéraire in Arles.

5) For the benefit of graduate students who are potentially interested in LXX studies in doctoral work, what in your opinion are underworked areas and topics in need of further research?

Currently, it seems to me that the books of the Septuagint have all been more or less studied, although some certainly more than others. But there is still work to be done, either book by book or in the area of textual criticism, historical, linguistic, literary, stylistic or exegetical research. For example, in addition to constant and increasingly important recourse to papyrology and epigraphy in order to acquire a better knowledge of the language of the Septuagint, the study of poetics, of the stylistics of the Septuagint deserves, it seems to me, more attention. The historical context of the production of these different translations should probably also be further studied. Perhaps we would then end up, among other things, with a more precise chronology of the various books of the LXX.

6) What current projects in Septuagint are you working on?

As the co-director of La Bible d’Alexandrie series, I am currently overseeing the annotated translation of 2-3 Reigns. I also participate in a project on the topic of the personification of Wisdom undertaken by Stéphanie Anthonioz at the Université de Lille, in particular in the book of LXX-Proverbs. I just recently finished a study on “Moses in the Greek Bible” for a project entitled Die Idee des Mose – Eine rezeptionsgeschichtliche Betrachtung einer identitätsstiftenden Idee, under the direction of V. Niederhofer, E. Eynikel and M. Sommer. I am currently writing a presentation on the Greek translation of the Pentateuch for a Handbook of the Pentateuch directed by J. Baden and C. Nihan. Finally, I continue to serve as a member of the editorial board of two international journals, JSCS and Semitica et Classica, which also regularly publishes articles on the LXX.

7) What is the future of Septuagint studies?

It is good that young people are interested in the LXX and hopefully new recruits continue on this path. It is probably advisable that they would preferably be trained in Classics, since the Greek of the LXX rightfully belongs to the Greek language and the history of the LXX to the history of Judaism in the Hellenistic era.

Wrapping Up

I am very grateful to Dr. Dogniez for her time and willingness to do this interview. I hope you found it as useful and informative as I did. In future interviews, you can look forward to hearing from more senior scholars in this important discipline.

_________________

My sincere thanks to Jean Maurais for his helpful input on my English translation of this interview.

LXX Scholar Interview: Dr. Emanuel Tov

Today I continue with my ongoing Septuagint Scholar Interview Series, which has been underway for at least two years now. The seventh scholar to participate in this undertaking whose interview is featured today, is Dr. Emanuel Tov. Presently Dr. Tov is actively researching and writing as professor emeritus in the Department of Bible at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. If you are at all involved in Old Testament textual studies, you will know Tov’s extensive work.

Without getting into the same details that you will hear about in the interview, Dr. Tov has an amazing “scholarly biography” of work with esteemed scholars such as Sha’Arei Talmon, Isac Leo Seeligman, Moshe Goshen-Gottstein, Chaim Menachem Rabin, and many others. He has contributed to numerous projects, some of which are ongoing, that have changed the landscape of Old Testament studies.

I was excited to have the opportunity to try out a video format for this interview, and I am thankful for Dr. Tov’s willingness to give some of his time. The video is about 30 minutes long, and in it you will hear about Dr. Tov’s early academic training in Septuagint, his work in Greek lexicography with John W. Wevers, the development of CATSS and the Hebrew University Bible Project, and lots more. Sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy hearing from one of the most influential scholars in Septuagint scholarship today (Oh, and also buy his most recent book).

If you want to skip around in the video, here are the questions, although there are a lot of interesting rabbit trails in between:

0:00-3:18        Describe how you became interested in LXX studies and your training?
3:19-7:04        How did your academic mentors think about the Greek of the Septuagint? 
7:05-17:30      Describe some of your more significant publications in the field.
28:45-29:30   How has the field changed over the course of your career?
24:15-25:24   What are areas in LXX that still need research? 
25:25-28:44   What are some of your current projects in LXX studies?
28:45-29:30   What is the future of LXX studies?