A New English Translation of the Septuagint

By Rosenberg, Simcha | Jewish Bible Quarterly, July-September 2014 | Go to article overview

A New English Translation of the Septuagint


Rosenberg, Simcha, Jewish Bible Quarterly


A New English Translation of the Septuagint, edited by Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright. Oxford: Oxford University press, 2007, 1027 pp.

The Talmud (TB Megillah 9a-b) recounts how King Ptolemy II (285-246 BCE) gathered seventy-two Jewish elders to translate the Torah into Greek, thus creating the earliest translation of (and commentary on) the Torah. While the Septuagint (LXX) that we have today seems to be at variance with the version of the Talmud (only two of the fifteen unusual translations noted in the Talmud are found in the LXX) and, over time the LXX was abandoned by Jews in favor of the Aramaic Targumim, it is still a very important work--showing how Jews in the ancient world interpreted the Bible and providing evidence for the existence of possible textual variants in the Hebrew original. For those of us who are not able to read the Greek original, a translation is essential.

The last time the LXX was translated into English was in 1851, when Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton published an edition based on a single manuscript, with no introductory notes and without the extra-canonical books. This new English translation, which remedies those faults, now provides a great service to the scholarly audience for whom the book is intended. The New English Translation (NETS) includes brief but thorough introductory notes to each book translated, focusing on the history of the Greek text of each one and the particular translation issues involved. Books that have two distinct Greek translations (such as Judges, Esther, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon) have both versions translated side by side. The editors aim for a very literal translation of the LXX, which they conceptualize as "a Greek interlinear translation of a Hebrew original within a Hebrew-Greek diglot" whose purpose was "bringing the Greek reader to the Hebrew original rather than bringing the Hebrew original to the Greek reader" (p. …

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