There is no such thing as “Septuagint without tears” (indeed, without the affliction of trial-and-error, one seldom learns anything)
It’s a fitting quote because Septuagint studies is a sprawling field, intersecting with so many other subdisciplines of biblical studies. An introduction is needed even for well versed biblical studies students.
Over the past couple decades, Jobes and Silva’s book has proven to be an inviting, yet robust, first step. In this post, I want to help you see exactly what kind of questions the book will help you answer.
Changes to the Second Edition
The key changes to the second edition are highlighted in the preface, which you can see in this screenshot below. They include:
- an expansion of every chapter
- chapter 11 now includes biographic profiles of key figures in Septugagint studies
- a new appendix includes English translations of the Göttingen sigla
- clarifications of statments that were considered ambiguous or misleading
I especially appreciate the biographical sketches in chapter 11.
These sketches help help students become better acquainted with the people behind key works in the field, and they help students better appreciate the hard work that laid the foundation for modern Septuagint studies.
Intro: Why Study the Septuagint?
Jobes and Silva begin with an overview of why and how the Septuagint is relevant for biblical studies.
In the screenshot below, you can see that in their concluding remarks they point to benefits beyond using the Septuagint merely as a witness to the text of the Hebrew Bible.
Part 1: The History of the Septuagint
This section is one of the most complicated aspects of Septuagint studies, and it’s a place where Jobes and Silva shine as great teachers.
They include helpful charts overviewing the transmission of the Septuagint.
I haven’t included every chart, but this one is particularly helpful in highlighting the complexity surrounding the theories of textual development:
I appreciate how after their concluding remarks they provide an extensive listing of resources for further study:
The section on the contents of the Septuagint provides a helpful summary of differences between Hebrew, Greek and English editions:
Part 2: The Septuagint and Biblical Studies
The second part of the book moves beyond peripheral, introductory issues and discusses the following:
- the nature of the Greek found in the Septuagint
- textual criticism, how and why it has factored so prominently within Septuagint studies
- what it looks like to read and interpret passages in of the Septuagint
- the relationship between the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls
- the Septuagint and the New Testament
One extremely helpful portion of the final section explains how modern editions are ordered and how to read them. Here is their break down of Göttingen Isaiah:
After presenting a page with annotations, they walk through what the editors are doing step-by-step:
They includes this sort of break down for the Larger Cambridge Septuagint, Rahlfs’ Septuagint, Göttingen Isaiah, and Göttingen Genesis. They breakdown two different Göttingen volumes because the earlier volumes (like Genesis) were formatting a little differently. Most notably, they didn’t have the second apparatus dedicated to Hexaplaric readings.
It’s super cool to see that they included links to Abram’s posts on the how to read the Göttingen apparatus, as well. You can see the links at the bottom of this screenshot.
Part 3: The Current State of Septuagint Studies
The final section contains the biographical sketches of key figures in the history of modern Septuagint studies. Take a look at the table of contents on the left. I love this so much:
Here is first portion of the section on Lagarde. His biographical sketch begins on page 268 and extends to the end of page 272.
The section on Rahlfs is two pages long, four paragraphs:
The appendixes are especially noteworthy because of the explanation and translation of the sigla of the Göttingen apparatus (both 1 and 2):
Jobes and Silva’s Invitation is a fabulous addition to any Accordance library. It is an ideal introduction to the field of Septuagint studies, and it complements well more narrowly focused, in-depth guides like Tov’s Text Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research and his Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Now, in Accordance you can access Jobes and Silva alongside tagged editions of Rahlfs, the Göttingen volumes, Swete, Tov’s MT-LXX parallel database, and the Cambridge Apparatus.