Happy International Septuagint Day! And there’s no better way to celebrate than to immerse yourself in the exciting world of the Septuagint—a rich land of excitement, adventure, and reward. If you’re new to the game or thinking about getting started, where should you start?
The Rahlfs-Hanhart Septuaginta is the standard hand edition to grab. But, if you really want to get reading, you would probably benefit the most from Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition. It’s the Rahlfs-Hanhart text sans critical apparatus. In its place are contextual glosses and verb parsings for unfamiliar vocabulary. This will give you the most seamless reading experience. But be forewarned. Toting these two hefty blue volumes to church to follow along in the sermon will make you stand out.
Your two best options are the Lexham English Septuagint and A New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS). You can freely access the NETS in PDF form here. The interested reader might check out this short history and comparison of English translations I compiled: “The Lexham English Septuagint and Its Place in History.”
You need a road map to get you started on your journey to explain this unfamiliar world.
Invitation to the Septuagint by Jobes and Silva is undoubtedly the most robust introduction. But Jennifer Dines also wrote an excellent one of her own. It’s on the shorter side and simply called The Septuagint. If you’ve already read Jobes and Silva, you might consider The Septuagint in Context by Natalio Fernández Marcos.
There’s also another flavour of “introductions” that instead of introducing you to the Septuagint as a whole, introduces you to each of its books. And there are two excellent choices: Introduction to the Septuagint edited by Siegfried Kreuzer and The T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint edited by James Aitken. You can read my review of Kreuzer’s volume here, where I also make some comparisons between it and the one edited by Aitken.
If you caught my post: “Battle of the Lexicons: Septuagint Edition,” you know there are two contenders on the market. There’s the Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint by Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie (LEH) and A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint by Takamitsu Muraoka (GELS). I prefer GELS because it treats the Greek of the Septuagint like Greek.
No doubt I’ve left out some good stuff. But here are some other books on the Septuagint I’ve read and learned from.
2 Maccabees 1–7: A Handbook on the Greek Text, Seth Ehorn
This is the first out of the chute in Baylor’s new Baylor Handbook on the Septuagint Series. I’m reading a review copy right now and you couldn’t ask for a better guide to walk you through the Greek text of 2 Maccabees.
The Greek of the Pentateuch, John A. L. Lee
An inspiring and impressive case that the Septuagint translators had a close intimacy with Greek. You can read my review here.
The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research, R. Timothy McLay
New Testament research should include a place for the Septuagint. And McLay has provided “a framework for understanding how the NT writings have been influenced because of their linguistic relationship with the Greek Jewish Scriptures” (2).
When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible, Timothy Michael Law
The book examines how the Greek translation of the Old Testament influenced the New Testament.
This more advanced treatment considers the Jewish and Christian use of the Septuagint and its implications for canonicity.
A Syntax of Septuagint Greek, Takamitsu Muraoka
There are older grammars out there, but this is the newest by a long shot. But its technical nature (and price!) make this one more of a luxury for those doing serious academic work.
Read about the Septuagint—for sure. But your best bet is to actually read the Septuagint! Dive in and start reading. Try Genesis, Psalms, or Bel and the Dragon. What better way to improve your New Testament Greek than by reading more Greek?
Be sure to also check out previous posts in this series!
Photo by Brent Niedergall.