Translation Technique

A Septuagintal Smattering

It’s that time of year when academics begin to emerge slowly from the malaise that sets in between SBL and New Year’s Day. I count myself among that number, as it seems like the last two weeks have suddenly burst into new activity, much of which is follow-up from the conferences in late November. 

So in that spirit, I thought I’d post a kind of round-up for all things Septuagint — at least those things that have come to my attention. Here’s the rundown:

New Septuagint Publications

There have been a few new Septuagint publications that are worth being aware of. 

  • The Septuagint in its Ancient Context: Philological, Historical, and Theological Approaches

This is an entirely new series for monographs and edited volumes with Brepols, one of the oldest publishing houses in Europe. The aim of this series is as follows:

The scope of this series is to publish monographs and multi-author works dealing with the Septuagint and its philological, historical, and theological context. In particular, the volumes of the series promote a multifaceted approach of the Septuagint including analyses on vocabulary and style, research on textual history (the Septuagint and its later recensions), investigations on Jewish-Hellenistic society, comparative studies taking into consideration non-biblical sources (e.g. literature, papyri, epigraphic evidence), and research on the reception history (in particular the influence on later Jewish and Christian thought).

I learned about this from Eberhard Bons, and am glad to see that there are already two volumes in print:

      1. Leonardo Pessoa da Silva Pinto and Daniela Scialabba, eds., New Avenues in Biblical Exegesis in Light of the Septuagint (SEPT 1; Brepols, 2022)
      2. Stefanie Peintner, Gott im Bild: Eidôlon – Studien zur Herkunft und Verwendung des Begriffes für das Götterbild in der Septuaginta (SEPT 2; Brepols 2023)

This is a new publication in a longstanding series. Here is a translation of the (originally French) book description:

Traduire une traduction was written in parallel with the annotated translation of the short Greek text of the book of Job (forthcoming). The distinctive of this book is that it is a critical reflection on the notions typically used by scholars, both concerning the Greek text (literal translation, free translation, summary, paraphrase) and the presumed Hebrew text (repetitive, difficult, obscure, poetic). This critical reflection is preceded by a discussion of the problems with the Greek version and is followed by the procedure underlying the annotated translation of the short Greek text. In the field of research on the biblical corpus, the theory of translation is often sidestepped. The material and social conditions of research – and its demands – put the challenges of the act of translation in the background. The author has attempted to make the terms of this question explicit in the last section of the book.

The book is fairly short, just under 100 pages, but sounds promising, particularly in the enticing indication that there is an annotated translation of Greek Job also in production.

  • Miika Tucker, The Septuagint of Jeremiah: A Study in Translation Technique and Recensions (De Septuaginta Investigationes 15; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2023)

I’m very glad to see this book in print, as it is the result of Miika’s hard work in his doctoral research in Helsinki. The book description is:

Miika Tucker comprises a translation technical study of the Septuagint version of Jeremiah for the purpose of characterizing the translation. The conclusions draw from different types of changes that occur between chapters 1–28 (Jer a’) and 29–52 (Jer b’). Certain differences between the two reflect the revisional characteristics of the kaige tradition, which suggests that they were produced by a reviser who was invested in a revisionary tradition similar to kaige. Other differences constitute a change toward more natural Greek expression, which is the opposite of what one would expect from a revision since Greek idiom usually does not correspond to the formal characteristics of Hebrew. Such differences are to be understood to reflect a change toward more intuitive use of the Greek language by the first translator. Changes toward less formal equivalence of the Hebrew and the growth of the Hebrew text after the initial translation combined to form conducive conditions for revision.

This is an important book that will shape Greek Jeremiah research into the future. Miika is still at Helsinki, now as a post-doc, working as the editor of the forthcoming Jeremiah volumes in the Biblia Hebraica Quinta edition and The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition.

Trinity Western University Septuagint Summer School

Those within the orbit of Septuagint scholarship know of the John William Wevers Institute of Septuagint Studies that is based at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. I have written about TWU over the years (see here), and one of the yearly events of note is their summer school on the Septuagint. I have participated in some of these myself and also posted these each year for a while now (see the posts here: 2021, 20202019201820172016, and 2015).

This year the summer school will be taught by Andrew Krause and focus on Josephus and the Septuagint. Here’s the flyer:

Wacky Twitter Takes on the Septuagint

I was on Twitter for a year there and then dropped off. But I still get tons of Twitter news from friends. The other day, I was alerted to this wackiness by Andrew Keenan.

I have no idea who runs this account. But I do know the Lexham Septuagint guys and I am highly skeptical that there is any formal connection there. I wanted to draw attention to this, not for its many typos, but rather because almost everything in this set of “slides” (or whatever they are) is either half-true or just completely wrong. Some of it is worse than wrong and edges into libelous (see especially Part III). It represents a sort of “best of” collection of weird myths about the Septuagint that are, unfortunately, still very much alive and well. In a sort of depressing way, it’s an encouragement for Septuagint scholars to keep at it.

Summer ’22 Update

Well it is officially the dog days of summer. It is sunny, sticky, and thunderstorm-y here in North Carolina. Things move a little slower over the summer in the academic world, which is nice. But — aside from teaching an intensive — I am still working on a number of projects. Since I did a post like this one last year around this time, I thought I’d give another general update on things I’ve been doing over this past ’21/’22 academic year, things that have happened, and things that are still underway. (more…)

LXX Post-Doc in Helsinki, Finland

Many people who come to Septuagint scholarship quickly recognize that, while it is a small and specialized discipline, it is one with a rich history. In terms of its recent developments, Septuagint scholarship would not be what it is without the so-called “Finnish School” based at the University of Helsinki. I have written a little bit about this branch of scholarship in the past. Most recently it was related to the symposium held two years ago in honor of the esteemed scholar Ilmari Soisalon-Soininen (1917-2002). You can read more about that event and its honoree here. (more…)