What They Thought when They Were Wrong

Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter 2

Greek text

This is what they said to themselves when they were thinking wrongly:

Our life is short and stressful, and there’s no remedy for a person’s death. For someone to return from Hades is unheard of. We were born out of the blue, and in the future it will be as if we never existed. The breath in our nostrils is like smoke, and our speech is like a spark in the movement of our hearts. Once our body stops burning, it will become ashes. Our name will be forgotten in time, and no one will remember our work. Our life will pass away like a fading cloud and will be scattered like a mist that has been chased by the rays of the sun and worn down by its heat. Our time is the passing of a shadow. Our death cannot be undone because the matter was sealed up and no one returns.

So come on! Let’s enjoy the good things! Let’s make good use of the things of life like we did when we were young! Let’s be filled with expensive wine and perfumes. May no spring flower go unnoticed by us. Let’s crown ourselves with fresh rose blossoms. Not one of us will take responsibility for our revelry. Let’s leave the marks of our party everywhere because this is our lot and destiny. Let’s jump an innocent poor person. Let’s spare no widow and show no respect to some old, grey-haired, elderly person. Our strength determines what is just. You see, the weak are considered worthless.

Let’s set a trap for the righteous one because he is inconvenient for us. He opposes our actions. He ridicules us for our “sin against the law.” He ascribes to us the “sins” of our education. He claims to have knowledge of God and calls himself a child of God. He came to us to tell us our thoughts are wrong. He is unbearable for us and sticks out. His life is not like others, and his ways are extremely weird. We thought he was a fake. He steered clear of our ways as one might from something dirty. He blesses the final state of the righteous and speaks of God as father. Let’s see if his words are true. Let’s put to the test his thoughts on the end of his life. If he is the righteous son of God, then God will help him and deliver him from the hand of those who have opposed him. With torturous violence let’s test him so that we can see his character and test his patience. Let’s give him a shameful death, and how he fares will be dependent on the veracity of his words.

These things are what they thought, and they were wrong because their wickedness blinded them. They didn’t know the mysteries of God, and they didn’t hope in the reward of piety. They didn’t consider the honor of a blameless soul. God created people for incorruptibility and as an image of his eternal nature.

Death entered the world through the envy of the Devil, and those who are of his lot put the righteous one to the test.

Montanari talks about BrillDAG

Is a new dictionary of ancient Greek necessary? On Brill’s language and linguistics blog, Franco Montanari answers this question and talks about the distinctive features of his new lexicon.

This is a really helpful post highlighting three reasons why he thinks his lexicon is necessary:

  1. Progress in our understanding of ancient Greek
  2. The evolution of the modern languages in which our lexicons are written
  3. The need for a comprehensive lexicon with a clear graphic layout

I’ve enjoyed using Montanari’s lexicon, especially with later writers like Josephus but also with the Septuagint. There’s a host of LXX references in just about every entry. The other great thing about this work is the price. Brill sells it for $125. The binding is not great, but as long as you use it as an in-office reference lexicon and don’t tote it around everywhere, it should hold up pretty well. Mine has, and I got it as soon as it was published in 2015.

I really hope to see BrillDAG become available in digital platforms other than Brill Online. With Brill Online you can get an individual license for $230, but I’m not a big fan of using an internet browser to do lexical work.

Bible Odyssey: What is the Oldest Bible?

I wrote an article for Bible Odyssey answering this question.

Bible Odyssey is an online initiative of SBL intended to communicate the results of scholarship to a popular audience.

The article is a response to several user questions related to the issue of “oldest Bible.” I tried to explain that the answer depends on what one means by “oldest” (materially? textually?) and by “Bible” (a bound book? Protestant? Catholic?).

On the bottom right of the page there is also a related links section where I provide links to a few of the manuscripts and editions mentioned in the article.

Check it out.

Göttingen Job in Accordance

“The Septuagint says …”

You can’t responsibly finish that sentence without checking a Göttingen edition. If there is no Göttingen edition for a particular book, then we usually turn to Rahlfs, but his edition was never intended to be the last word on the Old Greek (“Septuagint”) text.

Why Göttingen?

This point is not widely understood, even among students at universities and seminaries: The big blue book most people think of when they hear the word “Septuagint” is primarily based on three uncials — Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus. The Göttingen volumes, however, are based on all the extant witnesses to the Old Greek translation of each book. The Göttingen Septugaint is a full scale critical edition, and Rahlfs is just a starting point for a critical edition. Rahlfs and Hanhart themselves called it a handbook or pocket edition (Handausgabe).

At the end of the day, the differences between Göttingen and Rahlfs are often few when you consider the percentage of words that differ between the two editions. Nevertheless, if you want to finish the statement “The Septuagint says …” as accurately as possible (especially if you are doing academic research) you must have access to the Göttingen volumes.

Furthermore, the Old Greek translation of Job is significantly different than the form of Job we see in our Hebrew Bibles and English translations. Claude Cox states,

The translator, in a brilliant way, gives us an edited version of the story of Job; the text is reworked to such an extent that we might say he adopts the stance of an epitomiser, commentator, interpreter. (Claude Cox, “Job.” In T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint, ed. James K. Aitken. Bloomsbury, 2015)

To support a statement like this concerning the how-and-why of differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions of Job, it is important to work from texts based on all the available evidence, and this is what Göttingen provides.

The Accordance Edition

Accordance recently released their edition of Göttingen Job, and it can be purchased as a part of a Göttingen collection ($800) or individually ($80). These prices are cheaper than buying print copies, and Accordance occasionally runs sales during which you can get the Göttingen modules even cheaper.

Using the Add Parallel button you can easily add both the first and second apparatuses to the text so that all three scroll together.

Like almost all of their original language texts, Accordance has lemmatized and morphologically tagged all the Göttingen volumes. This means you can search the text for the lexical form of a Greek word (e.g., ἔχω) and find every occurrence of the word in all its various forms (e.g., ἔχει, ἐχόμεναι, ἔχεται).

Or you can find every instance of ἔχω as a present participle by searching for the following:

ἔχω@ [VERB present participle]

Accordance has also tagged the apparatus modules so that they can be searched in unique ways.

It is pretty awesome to be able to search the apparatuses for all references to Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. You see, in the Göttingen volumes the first apparatus notes variants within the transmission of the Old Greek translation itself, but the second apparatus catalogues differences between the Old Greek translation and later ancient Greek translations — such as those of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. So by searching the second apparatus using the Manuscripts search field one can highlight places where the editor notes differences between the Old Greek and later Greek translations.

To search the second apparatus for all references to Aquilla, Symmachus, and Theodotion, open the second apparatus in a separate tab, select the Manuscripts search field, right click on the search entry area, and select Enter Word.

Simply type “s” and you will see the abbreiations α´, σ´, θ´ in the word list. Select each and hit enter. To navigate within the search results to Job 1:1, simply type Job 1:1 in the navigation box at the bottom right, as you see in the picture below, and hit enter.

Typos

Over the course of about an hour, I checked the Accordance modules against the print edition of Göttingen Job, and I found about 10-15 typos in the digital edition. This is highly unusual for Accordance and is due, no doubt, to the fact that (1) this edition was first published in 1982, which means the initial digital text had to be produced by a scan, and (2) the Göttingen editions present any typesetter with the ultimate challenge. There is absolutely nothing like them. The number of obscure abbreviations and symbols and the combination of various langauges in these volumes is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. So the struggle is understandable.

Some of the typos I found in the Accordance modules were issues with difficult-to-reproduce characters like the μ-characters you see below. The picture below is from version 1.0 of the Accordance module, and in that version the little boxes were actually pictures. The module has already been updated to 1.1. Others were places where the scan didn’t accurately reproduce the dense notes found in the first and second apparatuses.

But in typical Accordance fashion, they have already fixed the typos I reported. Within a couple days of my reports, Accordance had already released version 1.1, which you can see below with the corrected μ-characters.

You can also check out this post where they fixed similar issues with another resource within two days of my reports.

Conclusion

If you are serious about studying the Septuagint, the textual history of the Hebrew Bible, or the New Testament authors’ use of Scripture, the Göttingen Septuagint is essential. It is impossible to carry a shelf of Göttingen volumes with you everywhere you go, and despite the typos found in this volume and the inevitable remaining typos yet to be discovered, I think the Accordance edition is the way to go. The price, portability, search capabilities, and morphological tagging, combined with the company’s commitment to producing quality resources, make Göttingen Job in Accordance the best digital option available.

LXX Psalm 6

Greek TextFor the end, with hymns, for the eighth. A Psalm of David.

Lord, don’t correct me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, because I am weak. Heal me, Lord, because my bones have been shaken. My soul has been fiercly shaken.

And as for you, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord! Save my life! Spare me on account of your mercy because in death there is no one who mentions you. In Hades who will acknowledge you?

I have grown tired in my groaning. I wash my bed every night; with my tears I soak my sheets. My sight has been distorted from anger. I have wasted away in the midst of my enemies.1Get away from me, all you who live lawlessly, because the Lord heard the sound of my weeping! The Lord heard my request. The Lord accepted my prayer. May all my enemies be utterly ashamed and distressed. May they quickly be abandoned and disgraced!

  1. I’m taking the aorist indicatives in this psalm as expressions of a present condition resulting from a past action (Smyth §1940) and the future indicatives as gnomic/customary futures (Smyth §1914). ↩︎

LXX Psalm 5

Greek Text

For the end, for the heir. A song of David.

Listen to my words, Lord! Take notice of my cry! Pay attention to sound of my request, my king and my God! Because to you I will pray, Lord. In the morning you will hear my voice; in the morning I will present myself to you, and I will watch.

You are not a God who desires lawlessness, and the one who lives wickedly will not live close to you. The violent will not stand firm before your eyes; you hate all those who live lawlessly. You will destroy all those who lie. The Lord detests a man of bloodshed and deception.

But I, in light of the multitude of your mercy, will enter your house. I will worship toward your holy temple in fear of you. Lord, lead me by your justice on account of my enemies; make your way clear before me because truth is not in their mouths. Their hearts are foolish. Their throats are open graves. With their tongues they deceive. Judge them, God! May they fall away from their schemes. According to the multitude of their ungodliness, drive them away because they provoked you, Lord.

Let all those who hope in you be glad. They will rejoice forever. You will encamp among them, and all those who love your name will boast in you because you will bless justly. Lord, like a shield surround us with your favor.

LXX Psalm 4

Greek Text

For the end. With instrumental music. A song of David.

When I called, the God of my justice heard me. In difficult places you made room for me. Have compassion on me and hear my prayer! Oh people, how long will you be hard-hearted? Why do you love what is worthless and seek a lie?

Know also that the Lord has magnified his holy one. The Lord will hear me when I have cried to him. Be angry and do not sin. Speak without words, and on your beds be disturbed.

Offer a proper sacrifice, and hope in the Lord. Many are saying,

Who will show us good things?

The light of your face was a mark upon us, Lord. You placed gladness in my heart. From the time of their wheat and wine and oil, they increased.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep because you only, Lord, make me live in hope.

LXX Psalm 3

Greek Text

A Psalm of David, when he ran from Absalom, his son.

Lord, why were there so many of those who oppress me? Many rise up agaisnt me! Many say to me,

There is no salvation for him in his God.

But you, Lord, are the one who helps me — my glory and the one who lifts my head. With my voice I cried out to the Lord, and he heard me from his holy mountain.

I lay down and I slept. I rose because the Lord will help me. I will not fear the innumerable people who band together all around me.

Rise, Lord! Save me, my God, because you struck those who hate me for no reason. You shatterd the teeth of sinners.

Salvation belongs to the Lord, and upon his people is his blessing.

LXX Psalm 2

Greek Text

Why were the nations arrogant, and why did the peoples plot vainly? The kings of the earth stood side by side; the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and his anointed one.

Let’s break off their bonds, and let’s cast off their yolk.

The one who dwells in heaven will laugh out loud at them; the Lord will mock them. At that time he will speak to them in his wrath. In his anger he will set them on edge.

I was appointed king by him, on Zion, his holy mountain.

Proclaiming the declaration of the Lord,

The Lord said to me, “You are my son. Today I have begotten you. Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance. The ends of the earth will be your possession. You will shepherd them with a rod of iron. Like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them.”

And now, kings, listen. Take note, all those who judge the earth. Serve the Lord in fear. Rejoice over him with trembling. Cling to instruction lest the Lord become angry and you perish from the right way.

Whevever his anger is suddenly kindled, blessed are those who trust in him.