Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Septuagint and Reception

A new book on the LXX:

Johann Cook, ed. Septuagint and Reception: essays prepared for the Association for the Study of the Septuagint in South Africa. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

Apparently, it was published in July, but I’ve only just now learned of it. Here’s the description of the book:

A new association for the study of the Septuagint was formed in South Africa recently. The present collection is a compilation of papers delivered at the first conference of this association, as well as other contributions. The volume addresses issues touching on the Septuagint in the broad sense of the word. This includes the Old Greek text (Daniel, Proverbs, Psalms and Lamentations) as well as the reception of the LXX (NT, Augustine and Jerome, etc.). A few contributions that may be regarded as miscellanea are nevertheless related to matters Septuagintal (Aristeas, Peshitta, Eunochos).

It’s published by Brill, so naturally its expensive ($200). I haven’t seen a copy yet, but I was able to see the table of contents through Harvard’s library catalogue, and there are certainly some interesting titles. Here it is in a cleaned-up version.

Jan Joosten, “The prayer of Azariah (DanLXX 3) : sources and origin”

Johann Cook, “On the role of external traditions in the Septuagint

Peter Arzt-Grabner, “Psalms as magic? : P. Vindob. G 39205 revisited”

Randall X. Gauthier, “Examining the ’pluses’ in the Greek Psalter : a study of the Septuagint translation qua communication”

Gideon Kotzé, “The Greek translation of Lamentations : towards a more nuanced view of its ’literal’ character”

Wolfgang Kraus, “Hab 2:3-4 in the Hebrew tradition and in the Septuagint, with its reception in the New Testament”

Gert J. Steyn, “Quotations from the Minor Prophets in Hebrews”

Annette Evans, “Ancient Egyptian elements in Hebrews 1?”

Ronald H. van der Bergh, “Differences between the MT and LXX contexts of Old Testament quotations in the New Testament : Isaiah 45:18-25 as a case study

Lawrence Ronald Lincoln, “The use of names as evidence of the Septuagint as a source for Josephus’ Antiquities in books 1 to 5”

Johan C. Thom, “Wisdom in the Wisdom of Solomon and Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus”

William Loader, “The strange woman in Proverbs, LXX Proverbs and Aseneth”

Chris L. de Wet, “The reception of the Susanna narrative (Dan. XIII) in early Christianity”

Annemaré Kotzé, “Augustine, Jerome and the Septuagint

Harry F. van Rooy, “The treatment of Hapax Legomena in MT Ezekiel, in the LXX Ezekiel and Peshitta : a comparative study

Jacobus A. Naudé, “The role of metatexts in the translations of sacred texts : the case of the Book of Aristeas and the Septuagint

Jonathan More, Kingship ideology : a neglected element in Aristeas’ charter myth for Alexandrian Judaism”

Sakkie Cornelius, “‘Eunuchs?’ : the ancient background of Eunouchos in the Septuagint

Pierre Johan Jordaan, Reading Judith as therapeutic narrative”

Eugene Coetzer, “Performing Susanna : speech acts and other performative elements in Susanna”

Dichk M. Kanonge, “Reading narratives in the Septuagint : a discourse on method”

I’ll be very interested to see the papers by de Wet on the reception of Susanna among the Fathers and by Kotzé on “Augusitne, Jerome and the Septuagint”. Those two topics feature prominently in my dissertation, which I am now concluding. Perhaps I’ll post some reflections on these articles when I’ve had a chance to read them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Did Late Antique Jews Use Aquila's Translation?

There is a new article about Aquila’s translation.
Jenny R. Labendz, “Aquila’s Bible Translation in Late Antiquity: Jewish and Christian Perspectives,” Harvard Theological Review 102.3 (2009): 353–388.
Labendz, of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, makes it her goal “to develop a more nuanced understanding of the history of Aquila’s Bible translation in Late Antiquity” (p. 353). If you are not immediately familiar with who Aquila is, learn more here.
Labendz first discusses the rabbinic sources for Aquila (pp. 355–370) before moving to the patristic sources (pp. 370–386). Labendz is obviously (and by her own admission) more comfortable in the Jewish sources than among the Fathers, and it is in her analysis of the rabbinic tradition of Aquila that I found her most helpful. (Her comments on the Church Fathers are not innovative, as far as I could tell.) I will let you read for yourself what she has to say. I suppose the take-away point for me is that rabbinic literature may indicate only that the Rabbis encountered Aquila’s translations as something like “oral targums” (which word, תרגם, they do use in connection with him). Still, I’m not sure how this would be the easiest way to explain all of the evidence.
Anyway, the purpose of this post is to point out that, strangely, Labendz repeatedly makes the erroneous assertion that the rabbinic evidence is the only extant Jewish evidence related to Aquila.
“The only ancient Jewish sources that mention Aquila or use his translation are rabbinic […]” (p. 353).
Speaking of Origen in his Letter to Africanus, when he says that Jews use Aquila: “If Origen is referring to the rabbis, then the evidence of rabbinic literature confirms this, as we have seen. But if he is referring rather, or in addition, to a wider Greek-speaking Jewish community, then we lack corroborating evidence of this claim” (p. 373).
After summarizing the evidence from rabbinic sources: “Other Jewish sources are silent” (p. 388).
In fact, we do have (admittedly, very limited) Jewish evidence outside rabbinic literature for the Jewish use of Aquila’s translation. First, there is an inscription in third century Rome that follows Aquila’s translation of Prov. 10:7. It has most recently been published as inscription 112 in vol. 2 of David Noy, ed. Jewish Inscriptions of Western Europe, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993–1995).
Second, the Cairo Genizah yielded some fragments of Aquila. To be sure, these fragments post-date the chronological limit Labendz set on herself (p. 354), but they must have been copied from earlier manuscripts, and these later fragments attest a continuing use of Aquila among some Jews.
The whole question of which Greek Bible text Greek-speaking Jews might have used is quite vexed. We can see now the collection of studies edited by Nicholas de Lange, Julia Krivoruchko, and Cameron Boyd-Taylor, Jewish Reception of Greek Bible Versions (Mohr Siebeck, 2009). In the introduction (p. 6), de Lange highlights the continuing importance of Aquila among Byzantine Jews as one of the major conclusions arising from the papers presented in the volume.