“Making Sense of Qoheleth”

That is the title of the paper I wrote for our Septuagint seminar last fall. If you are interested, have a look: “Making Sense of Qoheleth”

Here is the introduction:

This paper offers a qualification to the stereotypical description of the Septuagint translator of Qoheleth. The translator is typically described as one of the most literal of all LXX translators. Nevertheless, in certain places the translator clarifies the syntax of his Hebrew Vorlage. This paper is a preliminary attempt to catalogue those places.

The first section illustrates that though “literal” is often thought to be synonymous with “mechanical,” this is certainly not the case with the translator of Qoheleth. Realizing this distinction is a step toward properly describing the character of LXX Ecclesiastes. If there is evidence that his literal technique does not mean that he always follows a lexeme for lexeme approach, then perhaps syntactic clarifications are a possibility as well. The second section presents the foundation of the thesis. There, I have tried to gather all the places where, in comparison with the MT, the LXX translator has clarified the Hebrew syntax in his translation. The third section discusses questionable examples of syntactic clarification. Throughout the paper, differences between the MT and LXX due to a textual problem have been excluded. The final section states conclusions and points to further study.

After looking back over a couple papers by Jan Joosten on Academia.edu, I was reminded of a paper written by James K. Aitken: “Rhetoric and Poetry in Greek Ecclesiastes,” Bulletin of the International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies 38 (2005): 55-78. Aitken’s thesis is similar to mine, and he argues that several of the differences between the Qoheleth and Ecclesiastes can be explained by an increased interest in rhetoric in the Roman period. This paper was first brought to my attention by John Meade in a conversation a couple months after I had completed the paper linked to here. I had limited time to look at secondary sources during the seminar (shame! shame! I hear you), and I have yet to have the opportunity to come back to this project since John mentioned the article to me. I am out of town for a couple weeks, so if you have a pdf of “Rhetoric and Poetry in Greek Ecclesiastes” please feel free to send it my way.

5 thoughts on ““Making Sense of Qoheleth”

  1. I think it’s great that you posted this! Good to see things like this freely available on the Internet. Looking forward to looking it over as time permits….

        1. Of course I am a little biased on this point, but I don’t know of a better place than SBTS with Peter Gentry. Trinity Western would be great as well, but I’m not sure if they are taking PhD applicants right now or not. Let me chat this over with a couple folks and get back to you.

          1. That sounds great. I actually did find a pdf of a syllabus for what I think is the seminar you took with Gentry in the LXX. It looked awesome.

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