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Matt Quintana5 Stars Out Of 5A Unique and Welcomed Contribution to LXX ResourcesAugust 22, 2020Matt QuintanaQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5As anyone involved in biblical scholarship knows, the Septuagint (or LXX) is an indispensable source for the study of OT textual criticism, history of interpretation, NT quotations of the OT, and more. However, as anyone who works with the LXX also knows, only a handful of English translations are widely available in print. What's more, those few translations which are readily accessible leave much to be desired; Brenton's work is simply dated, both textually and in terms of the underlying Greek scholarship, whiles both NETS and the Orthodox Study Bible (OSB) are not original translations, but revisions of existing translations from Hebrew in English. The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) fills a much needed gap in English translations of the LXX, as will be described below.
Before discussing the methodology and translation itself, the book's design must be mentioned. As is standard for Lexham Press, the physical features of this book are impressive. The hardcover with a black cloth overboard is sturdy and simple; yet in tandem with the gold embossing, the book has an elegant look, and is simply stunning on a shelf. This beauty begs to be read; one's eyes are drawn toward the book and its aesthetic induces a desire to open it. Judging a book by its cover is certainly fair in this instance.
Now to the contents of the book. The LES begins with a very helpful 9 page introduction that not only orients readers to the history of the LES and its translational philosophy and methods, but also acquaints them to the LXX. There is also a bibliography of suggested resources, which is to be appreciated. The rest of the work is the translation itself. The LES contains 54 books, including the 39 books of the Jewish and Protestant canon, as well as 15 other works considered apocryphal by Protestants, or deuterocanonical by Roman Catholics and Orthodox believers. These are: Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, 1-4 Maccabees, Psalms of Solomon, Enoch, and the Odes. Additionally, four alternate versions of Tobit, Daniel, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon are included at the end of the work. The reader should also note that the books of Esdras A & B (i.e., Ezra-Nehemiah) and Esther look substantially different in the LXX, and thus the LES, than they do in the Masoretic Text (and English translations based off of the Hebrew).
Where the LES makes its greatest contribution is in relation to its textual base and translation philosophy. Rather than being a revision of an existing translation, the LES is completely fresh, and is directly from the Greek; this is in contrast to NETS and the OSB, which are based off of English translations from Hebrew, with revisions made wherever the Greek is significantly different. Additionally, LES has a different textual basis, as it uses Swete's diplomatic edition, which was based primarily on Codex Vaticanus. While Swete's is not the most recent scholarship nor is it a critical edition like Rahlfs-Hanhart or the Gttingen volumes, the choice of a diplomatic edition does have some unique implications. These are not necessarily pros or cons; it is simply a reality of using such a text base. Moreover, this decision does make the LES different than other English translation of the LXX, since most are based on more recent eclectic editions.
When it comes to the LES, the use of a diplomatic text base directly impacts the translation style. The introduction explains, "because in a diplomatic edition the text represents an actual manuscript rather than a hypothetical original text...this means the point of reference is the person reading that Greek manuscript, rather than the person translating the Hebrew into Greek. In other words, the LES has in mind the translation not as produced, but as received. The LES seeks to replicate in English the same sort of reading experience that an ancient Greek speaker would have had when reading the Septuagint in Codex Vaticanus" (xi). The LES's focus on the "text as received rather than as produced" led to an attempt to "render the Greek in its own right, with no eye to the Hebrew at all." What the LES sought to do was answer the question, "How would this text have been read--understood and experienced--by a fourth century, Greek-speaking gentile Christian?" (xiii). This is a fascinating perspective, and again, makes the LES completely unique. The focus on reception history is an important subset of LXX studies, and there is much to be gleaned from that field. Keeping this perspective in mind led to a very unusual yet enjoyable reading experience.
The LES seeks to be consistent in formally translating from Greek into English. However, the LXX itself is not always formal in its translation from Hebrew into Greek, so this decision by the LES means that its English translations "should feel idiomatic where the Greek is idiomatic" and "should feel formal where the Greek is formal" (xiii). Much more could be said about how this works out in practice, but it is a very intriguing theory, and the work is to be applauded for this. More could also be said about the translation philosophy, particularly regarding topics like vocabulary and gender. Readers will likely be glad to know that the LES renders proper names in their common English forms, as opposed to transliterating the Greek, like NETS.
Overall, the LES is a phenomenal work, both in its outer beauty and inner uniqueness. It will almost certainly achieves it goal of becoming "one of the primary English translations of the Septuagint consulted in one's study of the Jewish Scriptures, of apocryphal/deuterocanonical literature, and even of the New Testament and patristic literature" (x). It is an utterly unique and unparalleled contribution to its field, and for that reason, belongs on the shelf of anyone interested such studies. The editors of this work and the team at Lexham Press are to be commended for this groundbreaking work.
*Note: I received this book for free, courtesy of Lexham Press, but was not required to give a positive review.*
TJ5 Stars Out Of 5Beautifully Designed TextApril 25, 2020TJQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5The Lexham English Septuagint. The first thing you notice about this text is that the publishers took care in the presentation. It is a nice hardcover with gold inlay. This book will look god on the shelf (and we all know that is important!) The interior pages are beautifully laid out. The font is a good size and there are nice wide margins. I appreciate the choice to put the translator heading offset and in the margins rather than inline with the text.
It would be beneficial for any pastor or student of the bible to have a copy of the LXX since the LXX is typically the version of the OT that Jesus and the apostles quoted from. Though I know very little Greek I would be interested in Lexham producing an interlinear text in print.
Also because I know very little Greek I cannot comment on the quality of the translation. However, I can say the portions that I have read -for the most part part- read well in English. A few passages did feel a little clunky, but that is likely because I was used to the passage in a different version.
Simply having access to this text is a good reminder to Bible students of the variety and diversity in the biblical texts. included in the Lexham English Septuagint are 4 alternate texts; alternate text to Tobit, Daniel, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.
This book was provided free of Charge from Lexham press in exchange for fair review. I was not required to give it a positive review.
Rick4 Stars Out Of 5The Lexham English Septuagint -- a Few DetailsJanuary 27, 2020RickThis a review of the Lexham English Septuagint (ISBN 9781683593447). This volume is a cloth-over-board glued (not sewn) hardback 9.25 x 6.25 x 1.44 inches in dimensions. The text formatted in a single column 101 mm wide and is divided into paragraphs. The print is somewhat bold, though darkness is uneven, with some pages being noticeably lighter than others. The font is 9 to 9.5 points in height, when compared to Times New Roman. Each page has 49 lines of text at most and a generous 33 to 35 mm outer margin. The paper is reasonably opaque, but sheen from a waxy substance coating the paper can be annoying. Headings appear in italic font in the outer margin, and translation notes are placed at page bottom.
The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) is an English translation of Henry Barclay Swete's 19th century diplomatic edition of Codex Vaticanus. As such, it shares some peculiarities with its source, such as missing verses. The Introduction states that "The LES seeks to replicate in English the same sort of reading experience that an ancient Greek speaker would have when reading the Septuagint in Codex Vaticanus." However, I've checked a few verses mentioned in the writings of ancient Greek-speaking Christians, and in some of the places I've examined, it seems that they understood the text differently than the LES renders it in English. An example is Isaiah 45.14, where the LES has "God is among you," but Cyril of Alexandria understood it to say "God is in you".
The LES contains the book of 1 Enoch, but since it is based on fragments extant in Greek, it is much shorter than translations of 1 Enoch based on the Ethiopic, such as that of Nickelsburg and VanderKam. The LES also includes Theodotion's version of Daniel, in addition to the Septuagintal version. 1 Esdras, Tobit (two versions), Judith, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, the book of Odes, the Psalms of Solomon, Baruch, and the Epistle are present. Ezra and Nehemiah are combined into 2 Esdras, as is usual, but the footnote at 2 Esdras 11 only states that chapters 11 through 23 are numbered 1 through 13 in the Hebrew Bible -- it doesn't mention that they are located in Nehemiah, which could confuse some readers.
I have posted a video review of the LES that describes it in detail and compares it with another modern English edition of the Septuagint, the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS). Just search for "R. Grant Jones" "Lexham English Septuagint". Unlike the NETS, the LES uses common English names for books of the Bible and persons mentioned in it (e.g., Jeremiah rather than Ieremias).
Matt5 Stars Out Of 5Excellent Resource!January 15, 2020MattMy book shelves consist of many Bibles, and some of those Bibles are different translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts. I also have Greek and Hebrew Bibles. These are all incredibly helpful to me as I seek to better interpret, rightly understand, and properly apply God's Word to my life. One day it occurred to me that I do not own a physical copy of the Septuagint (LXX) in English. I decided to look up English translations of the LXX to see what was worth purchasing. That's when I read that Lexham Press was just getting ready to release a brand new translation of the Greek version of the Old Testament! And I am now a grateful owner of this fresh translation.
The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) is a new translation of the LXX (a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures). Perhaps you're wondering why somebody would want the LES if we already have the English translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek. Here's why: The "Septuagint itself should be studied--and therefore translated--because of the important role it plays in biblical studies. More often than not, when the New Testament writers quote the Jewish Scriptures, they quote the Septuagint. Other early Christian literature does the same, including the apostolic fathers, post New-Testament extracanonical material, and later patristic writings. Not only is it likely that the Septuagint was the Bible of the apostle Paul, it was probably also the one consulted by Josephus, Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, and perhaps even John Chrysostom." That was taken from the Introduction of the LES, which is a wonderfully written intro to help the reader understand what the LES is, where it came from, and the importance of having it in English today. Ryan Reeves helpfully summarizes for us why the LXX is so important: "The importance of the Septuagint cannot be emphasized enough. It sheds much-needed light on important words and theological concepts in both the Old and New Testaments. It helps us understand better the religious and political context in which Jesus and the New Testament authors lived; it has helped scholars determine which manuscripts are most reliable, which in turn leads to reliable translations of the Old Testament; and it gives us greater insight into the church fathers, who often quoted the Septuagint over the Hebrew Bible." This is not to place the LXX above our English translations of the original Hebrew and Greek, for it is true that there are errors in the LXX (such as issues within genealogies, a much shorter book of Jeremiah, an extra Psalm (Psalm 151) and additions to Daniel and Esther. Nevertheless, the LXX is very helpful in understanding how the early church (including the writers of the NT) interpreted and understood the Hebrew Scriptures.
Lexham's LES is absolutely stunning! The hardcover book has a beautiful design with gold lettering and decoration on the front, back, and spine of the book. The font is a great size, making the text very readable. The text is single column, which I love. There is also a lot of margin space for notetakers. The editors have done a great job of bringing the LXX into the English language that we speak today. I would say that the only thing I dislike about the LES is the lack of a ribbon marker.
I highly recommend Lexham's LES! This resource will allow Christians to see the translation that many in the early church used. The LXX is the oldest translation that we have of the Hebrew Scriptures. When the NT authors quote the OT, they are quoting from the LXX 75% of the time! That is very significant! Christians should be aware of the LXX, and I am grateful that Lexham Press has gifted the church with this excellent English translation of the LXX.
Disclaimer: My thanks to Lexham Press for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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