Thursday, March 3, 2022

Dorival's New LXX Book

Gilles Dorival is well-known among Septuagint specialists, as he has contributed many French-language studies to the field, and has especially dedicated his energies to the study of the catenae, and he has also dabbled in the development of the Jewish and Christian biblical canons. Now he has published his Grinfield Lectures in a monograph, The Septuagint from Alexandria to Constantinople: Canon, New Testament, Church Fathers, Catenae (Oxford, 2021). 

The four subjects listed in the subtitle correspond to the four sections of the book, with each section constituting two chapters. After the eight main chapters, there is also a lengthy concluding summary (pp. 171–87).

Probably the most welcome part of this monograph is the final section on the catenae, a subject hitherto not well-served in English. As I mentioned, Dorival has contributed a great deal to this area of study, particularly on the catenae of the Psalms (see, e.g., here), and it is the Psalms from which he takes many of his examples in the current monograph. 

Nevertheless, it is the other sections of the book that dovetail most closely with my own interests, and it is nice to have Dorival's thoughts in English on these topics. In a subsequent post I will offer some appreciation and critique regarding certain things that Dorival says in the first chapter on the development of the Jewish canon, but for now I will simply summarize briefly his first six chapters. 

Chapter 1, "The Formation of the Jewish Canon" (pp. 3–33). As Dorival tells us in the first note, this is a translation of his essay in this book. I'll have more to say about this essay in a future post. 

Chapter 2, "The Septuagint and the Issue of the Canon" (pp. 34–47). Dorival rejects the Alexandrian Canon hypothesis. He argues that some Jews before the turn of the era had a category of books that were not read publicly but rather privately, and that this category influenced the reception of the deuterocanonical books in Christianity. 

Chapter 3, "Is the Septuagint the Old Testament of the New Testament?" (pp. 51–68). The answer is "yes, with caveats," the biggest caveats being that not every quotation aligns with OG. 

Chapter 4, "Was the Text of the Septuagint Christianized?" (pp. 69–91). This was a good chapter. The assumption among some scholars for some time has been that LXX manuscripts were occasionally Christianized, in the sense that OT verses quoted in a variant form in the NT were adapted in the LXX to align with the NT form of the verse. This view has been challenged, and Dorival joins that challenge here. He shows how little of the LXX can be said to have been Christianized. But he doesn't limit himself to OT verses quoted in the NT. He deals first with the insertion of actual Christian content into the LXX, which does occasionally happen, such as the interpolation of Rom 3:12–13 into the text of Psalm 13 in the majority of manuscripts, and the Christian texts (such as from Luke) in the Odes. As for the the OT quotations in the NT, Dorival examined the ones in the Psalms (25 total) and found that hardly any Christianization had occurred in many manuscripts of the LXX, with only the debated quotation of LXX Psa 39:7b being found in the majority of LXX manuscripts in its "Christian" form (if this form is not, indeed, the OG). 

Chapter 5, "Is the Septuagint the Old Testament of the Church Fathers?" (pp. 95–116). Here Dorival answers the question "yes and no." While the LXX served the majority of Greek and Latin Fathers as their OT, this was not usually true for Syriac-speaking Christians, and even Greek- and Latin-speaking Christians recognized that the LXX was a translation of the Hebrew and sometimes needed to be understood—or even corrected—according to the Hebrew or a closer translation of it. In his concluding chapter's summary of Chapter 5, he wraps up by saying: "In sum, whilst the domination of the Septuagint in patristic times is a fact, it requires qualification" (p. 178). I would like to think that my dissertation had some influence on Dorival's thinking here; he does cite it a time or two. 

Chapter 6, "The Vocabulary of the Septuagint and the Church Fathers" (pp. 117–31). Dorival summarizes Swete's presentation and updates it. 

And as I mentioned, the last two chapters introduce the catenae. 

Chapter 7,  "An Overview of the Catenae" (pp. 135–54)

Chapter 8, "The Catenae and the Septuagint" (pp. 155–70)

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