Monday, September 26, 2016

Septuagint and Canon (2)

Here is a second post in my occasional series taking note of articles that deal with the issue of the relationship between the Septuagint and the canon of scripture. Today's article:

W. Edward Glenny, "The Septuagint and Biblical Theology," Themelios 41.2 (2016): 263–78.

This is a useful article. It is an introduction to issues surrounding the appropriation of the LXX for Christian theology, and the approach it takes is to survey five perspectives on this question. 

1. LXX Priority and Canon. This is Glenny's longest discussion of any particular perspective. He discusses the work of Hartmut Gese (esp. his contribution to this book), Martin Hengel, Peter Stuhlmacher, Timothy McLay, and Michael Law. Glenny interacts with these works a bit (see n.41 for his rejection of Hengel's interpretation of Luke 16:16), but mostly he summarizes their positions. These scholars see the LXX as part of a continuous stream of tradition within the development of the OT, and they think that the OT canon was still open at the time of the NT, so that the deuterocanonical literature should be included in the Christian Bible. 

2. LXX Priority, Hebrew Canon. Here he includes Mogens Müller and Robert Hanhart (intro to Hengel's book). Müller and Hanhart both believe that the canon was more-or-less settled by the NT era, so there's no question here about including the deuterocanonical literature in the Christian Bible. Rather the text of the LXX (for the books of the Jewish canon) is authoritative for the church because of its use in the NT and because the LXX stands at the end of a long process in the growth of the OT. In Müller's mind, the LXX was translated as the redaction process of the OT was coming to an end, so that that process in a sense is brought to completion in the LXX. 

3. Hebrew Priority and Canon, LXX Bridge. Here we find Jobes and Silva. The LXX was the Bible of the early church, its authority was derivative of the Hebrew, and was so understood by the early church. The LXX certainly influenced the theology of the early church, by its unique readings, but even these unique readings were in harmony with the theology (if not the wording) of the Hebrew scriptures. Glenny points to criticisms by Jobes and Silva in regard to the first two positions listed above. 

4. Hebrew and Greek Are Sanctified as Scripture by the Spirit. Ross Wagner is the example. Using the work of John Webster, Wagner argues that the Spirit has sanctified the LXX by means of its use within the church and by the apostles. Glenny compares the position of Augustine and Origen; but, whereas Origen perhaps would have shared Wagner's view, Augustine actually thought that the LXX was inspired in its composition, not just sanctified by its use.

5. Hebrew Priority and Canon, LXX Commentary. Glenny interacts with J. Julius Scott Jr., but it is a little obscure as to what position Glenny attributes to Scott, and how it differs from that of Jobes and Silva. And he ends by saying that Scott would probably not agree with the position that Glenny has attributed to him (or something close to that). 

After this survey of approaches, Glenny concludes that "the importance and function of the LXX in Christian biblical theology is at least fourfold": 
  1. "the LXX can function as the source of Christian biblical theology." Glenny's explanation of this point focuses on the possibility that the LXX might attest an original Hebrew text (which is not the direction I thought he would take under that heading). 
  2. "the LXX is valuable for biblical theology in its role as a commentary on the biblical text." Background to the NT (similar to the fifth position surveyed above) and commentary of sorts on the OT. 
  3. "perhaps most important, the LXX is a bridge or link between the Christian OT and NT." It's not that the LXX is part of a continuing tradition (like for Gese), but there is, instead, a "unique literary connection" that "reflects and interprets" the Hebrew scriptures. The LXX influences the NT in the form of text quoted, but also in vocabulary, grammar, syntax, style, and theology. 
  4. "a complement to the Hebrew Scriptures." The NT sometimes quotes the LXX where it diverges from the MT, e.g., Acts 15:16–18 quoting Amos 9:11–12. "I contend that Christian biblical theologians should understand theological statements that are unique to the LXX to complement and extend the understanding of the Hebrew Bible, as far as they reflect and repackage the theology found in the Hebrew Bible or as far as that reflected and repackaged theology of the LXX is picked up and used in the NT." 

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