Characteristics and Limitations
of the Septuagint
The purpose of this study is to explore in short compass some of the characteristics of the Old Latin (OL) translation of the Septuagint (LXX). More specifically, what features of the Septuagintal text can the Latin language accurately and distinctly reflect, and which features can it not? Further, insofar as practice diverges from theory, to what extent do individual OL translators accurately and distinctly reflect their Greek parent text? The framing of these questions displays thorough agreement with two theses posed by John Wevers:1 that for use of any version for textual criticism one must have in mind as clearly as possible, first and theoretically, a comparative knowledge of the contrasting features of the two languages, and secondly and concretely, the peculiar characteristics of the particular translation or manuscript being
1. John W. Wevers, “The Use of Versions for Text Criticism: The Septuagint,” in La Septuaginta en la investigación contemporánea (V Congreso de la IOSCS) (Textos y Estudios “Cardenal Cisneros” 34; ed. N. Fernández Marcos; Madrid: Instituto “Arias Montano” C.S.I.C., 1985) 15-24. See also his article “The Attitude of the Greek Translator of Deuteronomy towards His Parent Text,” in Beiträge zur Alttestamentlichen Theologie: Festschrift für Walther Zimmerli zum 70. Geburtstag (ed. H. Donner, R. Hanhart, and R. Smend; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977) 498-505, and his discussions under “The Critical Text,” in The Text History of the Greek Genesis; idem, The Text History of the Greek Numbers; idem, The Text History of the Greek Deuteronomy (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1974-82).
I am grateful to the University of Notre Dame and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for
providing the support which made this study possible.