I’m rather in love

My copy of A New English Translation of the Septuagint arrived yesterday. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular translation, edited by Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright, you might want to browse through the website of the translation project, and read, in particular, “To the Reader of NETS”, the introduction to the translation as a whole. The introduction was updated this year, so it differs slightly from the older version from the website, and from the version of the introduction included in the Psalms volume published in 2000 by Albert Pietersma, which is apparently out of print. I’ve been following the project since the appearance of the website a number of years ago. With luck, the commentary series based upon this NETS translation, also described on the website, will proceed apace.

The book itself is very well-made. It’s hardcover, with a “library binding,” and slightly larger than the Psalms volume, yet only about one inch thick. This is due to the use of fine, yet reasonably opaque, “Bible paper.” The text is approximately 10pt, and double-column throughout the Biblical text, with the front matter and introductions to the individual books being single-column. The binding is such that the book lies open flat even very near the front and back covers, in addition to which the inner margins are sufficient that one needn’t hold down the pages to keep text from falling into the gutter. Unfortunately, the other margins are quite small, and will not facilitate annotation. Perhaps a less economical edition in the future will remedy this. I confess that it would be quite nice to have a NETS edition Bible of the same production quality as the leather-bound Oxford NRSV Bibles, which are always exceedingly well made.

Now to the truly extraordinary aspects of this new translation of the Septuagint. Students of the Septuagint will be aware that several of the Biblical books are known in two versions (in whole or in part) in Greek, with the divergent texts being published and annotated in both the Rahlfs handbook edition and in the G


  1. It really is very nice. Everything from Rahlfs is in there, except the Odes, most of which are taken from the Biblical text anyway, except for the Prayer of Manasses and the Great Doxology. The Prayer of Manasses is included after the Psalms, though the Great Doxology is omitted. A plus over Rahlfs (and Göttingen? I don’t have the Esther volume) is the inclusion of the Alpha text in Esther, which is really, really cool, if you’re at all interested in the complexities of that book’s transmission.

    I made a correction in the post above. I’d initially thought, at a glance, that NETS Sirach included the Hebrew pluses in brackets, but these are actually pluses from the Greek II text, as in Rahlfs and Göttingen, where different type represents the text of the two editions. So much the better!

  2. Blame Stefan for my bypassing the comments section on his blog for yours. Thanks to him, my Mac hard drive is 8.7MB fuller of free LXX stuff (but ironically he’s fighting complaints about the cost of anything more than a Gideon’s Bible).

    Thanks to you for your great review of NETS! Music to my ears, your co-“fan of all things Septuagint.”

    Here’s my 2 cents:

    Yes, the Alpha text of Esther is the coolest thing about NETS. So why didn’t the editors let Karen H. Jobes translate more? And why is she the only, the lonely, woman in this big team? She did her dissertation on the Alpha text, fine; but she’s published some incredible scholarship on LXX psalms and I Peter and Hebrews and the connections between the Greek in the Septuagint, in the NT, and in the rhetorics of the ancients. Incredible stuff. She claims you can’t really do NT exegesis without understanding the other stuff, including / especially the LXX. That alone ought to make Septuagint fans out of more of us. And that makes me more critical, then, of the NETS project so far.

    Leonard J. Greenspoon’s Iesous is a great disappointment. He could have made the connections with the NT Iesous, or even better translated him Jesus, but doesn’t. Why not make more out of αναστας in Joshua 1:2, a verb that is weirdly NT when combined with Iesous? I understand I want the translation to read backwards from the NT; but if it cannot, then why not make more of Moses’s death and the imperative of Joshua to rise up out of that? Greenspoon does take some time to explain his transliteration difficulties in his notes “To the Reader of Iesous”; but the explicit solutions only have to do with Greek-then-English transliteration of Hebrew. Seems Greenspoon ignores the violence he does to Greek word play by his own English transliteration of the Greek translation.

    Where is the Greek text? Why not a NETS diglot as with the English translation by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton?

    And bravo to Bernard A. Taylor and Paul D. McLean for their actual translation of their books’ titles: 1, 2, 3, and 4 “Reigns”; and to S. Peter Cowe for his “Supplements”; and to R. Timothy McLay for his “Bel and the Dragon.” These translators actually translate the Greek into fresh English, instead of resorting to transliteration or to some tired English translation (of mostly MT titles).

    I suppose progress is progress. But us lovers can be picky. Thanks to you (and Stefan too) for the good reviews of NETS.

  3. I have to bear a little of the blame for Karen’s loneliness. I was just visiting my girlfriend in Toronto and recalling the days we spent together in Pietersma’s class. It is odd to realize that we just didn’t see a future in biblical scholarship at the time. Maybe if we had come to it later as Jobes did, and not as teenagers, who knows.

  4. Thanks for the comments! J.K. I think some of what you’re talking about may come in the Commentary series they have planned. These days, reception history is thankfully getting tons of attention, so we’re sure to hear some of the Joshua/Iesous||Jesus/Iesous stuff in there. I would certainly hope so! For the more religious take on all those connections, it looks like the annotations to the upcoming Orthodox Study Bible will be much better than the old OSB NT/Psalms, and should cover much of that. If not, don’t blame this messenger….

    One of the many things I’ve been thinking of covering various back burners with is a systematic exploration of the LXX for those Christological parallels described in Patristic writings. That is, not just taking the examples given in the Patristic texts, but using their methodology to find more of them. That may just be something that will take several lifetimes….

    Suzanne, isn’t it funny how our earlier expectations can be so wrong? I’m happy to have come back to my studies later, like you mention Karen Jobes did, even though, as John Hobbins put it, I’m “otherwise gainfully employed.” It’s the pause that refreshes, to turn an ancient Coke adverstisement into wisdom. Perhaps I’ll go back to school, too. It sure would be nice to work on these kinds of things all day rather than only part time. I’ll have to look into that.

  5. Kevin,

    I may have been misconstrued here. My girlfriend (not Jobes) and I were together in Pietersma’s class and then pursued other careers. I don’t know Karen Jobes, but I understand that Biblical scholarship was a second career for her.

    I really meant that if some of us girls had stuck with our studies then, Jobes would not be the only woman on the team. So, I think we bear a little responsibility in this, but I am only speaking lightly.

  6. Hi Suzanne. No, that’s what I understood you to say. It’s never too late, you know. If Karen Jobes has done it, so can you. If it takes encouragement, I’m sure you’ll get it from a number of people.

    I was actually really surprised in the San Diego conference by the overwhelming preponderance of men. And some percentage (probably a high one) of the women I did see there would have been AAR. (During my cab ride to the airport, It sounds like the AAR are going to split away and have their own annual convention, now, too. Too much stigma in that word “Biblical” apparently. I tease. But still.) Anyhow, you can always go and do it. You have something great to offer in Biblical Studies, and you should follow that up. In reference to what I mentioned above, think how much more productive you could be were you to be working on those things you love full time, rather than part time? I’m sometimes discouraged that my stupid day job makes me too annoyed, exhausted or distracted to focus on these things that I find that much more fascinating, and which contribution, so I’ve been told, is appreciated. I think it’s kind of a responsibility that we should at least look into taking this work full time, rather than remaining in hobby status. Of course, tonight I say that. Tomorrow who knows? And a student paycheck is not so attractive. Even so. It’s something to think about.

  7. Kevin,

    Thanks for opening the conversation. I would love to hear what you are thinking of yourself.

    I do have some ideas that I am turning over in my head and some seem better than others. To tell the truth I was not full of tons of original ideas when I was at university. It is more from working on my own later and through many different experiences that I have developed my own perspective. I don’t really regret not going on to grad work at that time.

    The trouble right now is that I have a finger in too many pies. I have some very diverse interests. However, I am taking a course right now, and something might come of it.

  8. Hi Suzanne,
    Right now I’m thinking, “Why is it when I get a cold only one side or the other of my nose plugs up then it clears and the other one plugs and back and forth?” And “Why won’t my damn ear pop?” Things like that mostly.

    Otherwise, back to the subject, I’m thinking more along the lines of seminary right now, more than secular school. Though I wouldn’t rule out the latter. I worked my way through school, so I don’t have any debt, which is nice, but any school I’d want to be going to now would be outrageously expensive. Such are the times. It’s practical matters like that which really put me off the idea.

    I really do want to be wasting less time doing things that take time away from these things which I do well and enjoy doing more. I do my work very well indeed, but I really have trouble standing it sometimes. It seems like an absurd joke sometimes: do this one thing for most of your day so that you’ll be able to afford to buy the books so you can do this other thing at night and on the weekends which you do better (judging solely from an objective comparison of feedback between the two) and which you enjoy, find fulfilling, and of value to the greater world.

    And like you, I don’t really regret not going to grad school “at the proper time.” I would’ve hated it, I’m sure. I was fed up with the department I was in after seeing a really nasty political play go on. It soured me on the whole affair. As I told some friends last week when we were talking about this very subject, “I didn’t want to be a fifty year old three year old.” Now I can say that part of me regrets that decision. But also, I can honestly say that if I’d remained in the department, my interests would probably not be precisely what they are now, and I might be just as unhappy at whatever that was. I have such a breadth of things that I dabble in now, hither and yon, that are all tied together in various ways, but there’s no real program to cover that either. And frankly, I still have those nightmares about showing up to class and there’s a test and I don’t even know what class it is, much less whatever’s going to be on the test. You’d think those would stop after a while! Having to perform in a real classroom setting, when it’s not on my schedule–would that work? Would I resent the equation of this fun stuff with my “freedom”–the time away from work? I certainly think that’s a part of it. But, like I said earlier, if we’re doing something good, we should share it properly. I guess it’s figuring that “properly” out where the issue lies right now.

    Anyhow, I’m probably just babbling at this point.

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