Toward Objective Evaluation of the OSB

I’ve been thinking about a way to quantify the degree to which the new Orthodox Study Bible’s “St Athanasius Academy Septuagint’ is actually a translation of the texts of the Septuagint. As is patently obvious in this “translation,” entire books of the OSB OT are only lightly reworked versions of the New King James Version, a Masoretic Text-based translation. This practice has very often led to an exclusion of the distinctive textual and even narrative characteristics of the LXX text, as various reviewers have already noted. The numerous differences between the Hebrew MT and Greek LXX are often referred to, yet there is no comprehensive list. Here are two suggestions for sources toward producing such a comprehensive list:

1.) The Parallel Aligned Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek texts of Jewish Scripture of the Center for Computer Analysis of Texts of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania were initially set up under the direction Emanuel Tov. In these, the texts of the MT (the Michigan-Claremont electronic text of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia) and LXX (CATSS LXX produced from the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae LXX texts based on Rahlfs) are aligned, transliterated Hebrew on the left, transliterated Greek on the right. Pluses (where LXX has text lacking in the MT) and minuses (where LXX is lacking text in the MT) and transpositions are indicated. So, with the help of these files, it would be possible to compile an exhaustive and precise list of every place in which the LXX differs from the MT. It would be particularly easy to track down the pluses and minuses this way. But for issues of alternate readings between the two text traditions, one would still be required to compare each and every word in each and every line in order to compile a list of such differences, as these are not marked. That would be an extraordinary amount of work. Fortunately there is an alternative.

2.) Within the apparatus of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia lie numerous indications where the LXX (and other versions) differ from the reading presented in Codex Leningradensis, taken as the exemplar of the Masoretic Text tradition. Thus, the work of indicating the alternate readings between the two traditions, MT and LXX, is effectively done in the apparatus to the BHS. These indications of alternate readings in the LXX could easily be compiled. In conjunction with the plus/minus information easily obtainable from the CCAT files, this information from the BHS apparatus may be considered to complete the desired list of MT/LXX differences.

With such a list completed, one might then simply go down the list, item by item, verse by verse, and check off each feature of the LXX that is found in the OSB OT. At the end, the number of checkmarks divided by the number of lines would provide one with a percentage to which the OSB OT actually represents the LXX text. In fact, it would become quickly apparent which books reflect more accurately the LXX, and which are largely simply the NKJV OT text, by the number of items found in each book as one is working.

The result of this would be an objective, quantifiable evaluation of the OSB OT based on authoritative works. The compiled list of MT/LXX differences would otherwise also be a very useful tool for Septuagintal research, as well, from the introductory level to that of textual criticism. It’s an interesting idea, I think.


  1. I have the Libronix/Logos edition of the Parallel Aligned Heb/Am/Gk that I think could be used by itself to compile this list without going back to the BHS. The Libronix version includes a Hebrew retroversion from the Greek where LXX translates a word not found in the Massoretic and what appear to be more annotations highlighting the differences between the texts (I can post the whole thing if you like). It should be as simple as creating lists of verses corresponding to each kind of note, then comparing the OSB with NETS or Brenton at each verse.

    I might take a crack at this just to make the list of Heb/LXX differences. This wouldn’t be very useful for determining where the OSB doesn’t render the Greek effectively irrespective of differences in the source texts though.

  2. Neat, I didn’t know there was a Libronix version, Fred. I have it in BibleWorks, but it’s more of a parallel with morphological data than the set indicating the pluses and minuses that I linked to above. It does have the retroversions you mention, too, as does the CCAT file. There’s no apparent way in the BibleWorks version to find the pluses/minuses, though, which is so easy to do in the “flat” file. Of course, there are small differences all over the place, but the substantive ones, of more than one word, are the ones of interest in determining a Septuagintal reading, and those would take eyeballing. If you manage to find a way to do it, let me know!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *