The Historical Jesus in Context

By Amy-Jill Levine; Dale Allison Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

27
Isaiah 53:1–12 (Septuagint)

Ben Witherington III

Isaiah 53, certainly one of the most challenging texts from the Hebrew Scriptures to be translated into Greek in several versions (LXX, Aquila, Symmachus, and possibly by one or more early Christians), was used rather heavily in early Christian circles; on the textual issues raised by the Hebrew text, which are not a few, see Oswalt (373–410). It seems likely that the Hebrew version was more influential for Jesus and his earliest Aramaic-speaking followers, but it seems clear enough that in Acts 8:32–33 Luke is following the LXX, and in general this seems to be the case in the New Testament when the author was writing in Greek. For better or worse, the LXX was the Bible for Greek-speaking Christians, particularly in congregations dominated by Gentiles. Because of the importance of both dominant versions, this chapter offers a parallel-column translation so that the differences can be seen. It does not attempt to present the text in a form that suggests it is a lyric or poem, but the Hebrew text lends itself to that sort of rendering more than the Greek text.

On the history of the interpretation of this text, see Janowski and Stuhlmacher; on the exegesis and interpretation of the Hebrew texts, besides Oswalt one also should consult Childs and Westermann. I am basically in agreement with the translation of Jobes and Silva (218–26), though I have chosen to go a slightly different way on some minor issues.

Hebrew VersionLXX
Who has believed what we have heard?Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire himHe grew up before him like a child, like a root in a dry land. There is no form to him or glory: when we saw him, he had no form or beauty.

-400-

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