Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The LXX and the DSS
I was recently at a Cokesbury Christian book store where I spotted, in the half-off section no less, the book What are the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Do They Matter? Being half-priced, I naturally purchased it along with some other discounted books. Since the book is written in a handy questions and answer format, I thought it would be a good primer for the issues that surround the Dead Sea Scrolls. Through my studies at seminary, I have certainly been introduced to the importance of the Scrolls and how they have impacted textual criticism. One question I always wondered about was how the DSS related to the Septuagint. While reading this book, I was happy to see that the authors, Freedman and Kuhlken, address the issue:
Which of the two texts- LXX or the MT- represents a more accurate tradition?
"This is a serious issue. On the one hand, the Septuagint reflects an earlier version than the Masoretic Text. The MT can't be traced back as far as the LXX, and it seems to reflect a number of instances when rabbis had to make hard choices about which particular texts were original and what particular words meant. It also reflects a great deal of haplography......
On the other hand, scholarly attitudes towards the LXX have gone through a lot stages over the years. It has been considered a very accurate, literal rendering of an underlying Hebrew text- and it has ben considered a paraphrase of something that doesn't conform to any Hebrew text.
But the more information that comes in, especially from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the more the LXX appears to be a literal translation of an original Hebrew text. In fact, it appears to be a very literal translation, so much so that in many ways it differs from classical Greek. The translators made deliberate efforts to preserve the original syntax, word order, and so forth of the original Hebrew rather than attempt to achieve an attractive style of Greek....."
So, here are a few of my questions about the previous statement:
1) What do you think about the analysis of Freedman and Kuhlken on this issue of the LXX?
2) Are we not already moving away from reliance on the MT, since many translations are now adopting an eclectic text for the OT?
3) Is there a good reason to simply translate from the LXX for the OT? I know that this is already done in the Orthodox Churches.