Thursday, June 28, 2012

Who Named Paraleipomena?

I'm back to looking at Chronicles for a little while. Actually, I guess I'll be studying it off-and-on until the end of the year because of a couple writing projects dealing with certain aspects of it. Anyway, I am now re-reading this interesting article on the names of the book: Gary N. Knoppers and Paul B. Harvey Jr., "Omitted and Remaining Matters: On the Names Given to the Book of Chronicles in Antiquity," JBL 121.2 (2002): 227-43.

As I said, the article covers a lot of interesting ground. But one assumption made in it bothers me a little. Now, you need to know that the Greek title for Chronicles is Paraleipomena = "things omitted" (or, as I like to tell my students, "the left-overs"). But who gave Greek Chronicles this name? Knoppers and Harvey say a couple of times that it derives from the LXX translators themselves.
[...] Paraleipomena [...] is both (apparently) a unique title for an ancient literary/historical composition and a reflection of the LXX translators' conception of this work. (p. 233)
By employing these titles, the LXX translators [...] attempt to explain the existence of two parallel literary works--Genesis through Kings (or simply just Kings) and Chronicles. What the former omits, the latter supplies. (p. 236)
Why do they think the LXX translators supplied the title? Greek Chronicles is usually dated to the 2nd cent BCE. The title, I believe, is unattested until perhaps Melito of Sardis gave his famous list of OT books toward the end of the 2nd cent. CE (in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 4.26.12-14). The manuscripts that we have of Greek Chronicles are all Christian. So, is it possible to take this title, Paraleipomena, back before the 2nd or 1st cent. CE?

Or, the question could be, were the LXX translators accustomed to giving names to their translations? But I don't think we know the answer to that, either. The Hebrew books are mostly untitled, at least in the traditional sense. So, perhaps the translators didn't supply titles either. Or, if they did, would they have been the same title as is later attested? I can think of one example where the Greek title seems to have changed over time: the second book of the Pentateuch was at one time called in Greek Exagoge, but later become known as Exodus, both words having similar meanings.

So, did the LXX translators of Chronicles supply the title Paraleipomena? Maybe. If so, did they coin the title? It's possible. Or, would it have reflected what earlier Greek-speaking Jews called the book? Or maybe even there was an equivalent title in Hebrew?

On the other hand, is the title even attested by any Greek-speaking Jews? A search on TLG shows that it is unattested in Philo and Josephus. Could it be what Gentile Christians decided to call the book? 

Corrections would be welcome.

UPDATE (29 Oct 2016): I'm reading Robert Kraft's SBL presidential address, and I find that he has a footnote on this issue:
It is not clear when and under what circumstances the Greek translations of 1–2 Chronicles came to be called "Paral(e)ipomena." The earliest evidence of which I am aware is Melito (and Origen) according to Eusebius .... Nor is it clear that this was already a title in use in the Greek-speaking world at large. In Jewish and Christian circles, the title also appears for most manuscripts of "Paraleipomena Jeremiou," and in two references in Testament of Job (40.14; 41.6). Based on content, such works as LAB or even Deuteronomy could easily be labeled "Remainders" (depending, of course, on what is assumed to be the basis of comparison). (19n55)

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