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This page provides a review of a reference work that was consulted while working on the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). To purchase a copy of the third edition, click here.

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The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English

By L. C. L., Sir Brenton

Authoritative in the early Church, so it is worthy of our study today

This book contains the entire Greek text of the Septuagint, including the Apocrypha, along with an English translation. For those who don’t know, the Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament from the third century B.C. It is abbreviated as “LXX.” The name and abbreviation are based on the tradition that 70 or 72 Jewish scholars worked on the translation, six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The format of this book is in two columns, with the Greek text taking about 3/5s of the page and the English translation the other 2/5s. The print size of the Greek text is decent sized, but the English translation is in smaller print (about Times 8). It’s small, but readable. It should also be noted that this translation was done in 1851, so there is some archaic language (e.g., thee, thou, thy, art, walkedst, gavest, wast, etc.).

The English translation would best be classified as a formal equivalence translation, about the literalness of the NASB. At some places where it deviates from a literal translation there are footnotes indicating a more literal translation. Words added for clarity are sometimes italicized, but not always. This is especially the case with the definitive article (“the”). It is often added without being indicated as such. Forms of the verb “to be” are also sometimes added without being italicized. I would have preferred more consistency in this regard, as I discuss in my book Differences Between Bible Versions.

I referred to this volume when working on my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament: Third Edition (ALT3). I used it for studying whether the New Testament writer was quoting from the Hebrew text of the OT or from the Septuagint. I then used notations to indicate which in my NT. It is apparent that the NT writers were familiar with both the Hebrew text and with the LXX, and they freely quoted from either of these.

This use of the LXX by the New Testament writers shows that the LXX was held in high regard by the early Church. In fact, the Preface to this volume states that the LXX “... became the ‘Bible’ of Greek-speaking Jews and then later of the early Christians.”

The reason for was simply that by the time of Christ, many Jews, especially those living outside of Judea, did not know Hebrew, and once the Christian Church moved outside of Judea, most converts did not know Hebrew as well. Moreover, the New Testament authors were intimately familiar with the LXX, and its language is reflected in their writings. So a study of the LXX will enable one to better understand the NT.

The order of the OT books as found in Christian Bibles today reflects the order of books in the LXX rather than the Hebrew order of books. Moreover, the inclusion of the apocryphal books in the LXX is the main reason the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches accepts them as Scripture.

Personally, I do not agree with this assessment. However, I do think these books are worth reading. They were written during the time period between the Old and New Testaments. So they help to fill in this historical gap, and they provide background to the NT. The NT writers never quote directly from any of the apocryphal books (which is one reason I do not accept them as Scripture), but there are many allusions to these books in the NT. So the thought of the NT writers was influenced by these books. As such, it is good the apocryphal books are included in this volume, but it is also good that they are included together at the end of the book and numbered separately from the rest of the text rather than interspersed among the canonical OT books as is done in Catholic Bibles

All of this is not to say that the LXX translation is an infallible, God-breathed document. That level of inspiration only applies to the Hebrew text. However, the LXX was considered to be authoritative in the early Church, so it is worthy of our study today.

For these reasons, I recently started reading the OT using this volume, going back and forth between the Greek and English texts. And this volume is very useful for such a study of the Greek of the LXX and even for just reading the English translation of the LXX.

But it should be noted that the parallel column format is not as easy to use as an interlinear. This is especially so with this volume as the verse numbers for the English text are superscripted at the beginning of each verse as is commonly done, but the verse numbers are just in the margins for the Greek text. So if you don’t know Greek very well, it could be difficult to find your place when going back and forth between the Greek and English texts.

Review of The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Copyright (c) 2008 by Gary F. Zeolla.

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