- Hardcover: 1027 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 2, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195289757
- ISBN-13: 978-0195289756
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 69 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A New English Translation of the Septuagint Hardcover – November 2, 2007
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"A fresh and timely translation of the Septuagint. I enthusiasticall endorse this new translation. All those involved in this admirable project are to be congratulated for their contribution to raising Septuagint studies to the level of intensity and interest achieved by its sister fields of the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT." --Radu Gheorghita, Journal of the Evangelical Theology Society
About the Author
Albert Pietersma is Professor of Septuagint and Hellenistic Greek at The University of Toronto.
Benjamin G. Wright is University Distinguished Professor of Religion Studies, Bible, Early Judaism, Christianity at Lehigh University.
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The primary text runs 1027 pages. The paper is of pretty high quality, though the typeface is a bit smallish. Each printed page of text is only about approximately 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall. There are no maps. The footnotes tend to follow the NRSV.
Also, remember that this is an English translation of a Greek translation of a Hebrew/Aramaic original (except for a few that are originally in just the Greek (e.g., Editions to Esther), and that the English translation uses the NRSV as its foundational base (versus the NKJV for the Orthodox Study Bible's Septuagint-derived OT). Thus, it can often read...idiosyncratically. It is its own unique translation.
Any potential reader must keep aware of their choices regarding places and names. That that are "as translations of Herew (or Aramaic), i.e., names in general use in the Hellenstic world apart from the LXX" are in their modern standard English equivalent. So they use Egypt and Syria. However, "as transcriptions of Hebre (or Aramaic), i.e., names produced de nove from the source language" are translated as English transcriptions. Thus, David is Dauid. And Solomon is Salomon. Thus, this can be a bit of a hard casual read as the reader has to keep reminding himself of the name in question. For example, Leviticus is Leuitikon, Deuteronomy is Deuteronomion, Joshua is Iesous, Ruth is Routh, Judith is Ioudith, Maccabees is Makkabees, Ecclesiastes is Ecclesiast, etc. (The spellings might only appeal to RCs who love their Vulgate (from the Latin).) This can really slow down the modern English speaker who is so used to the modern spellings. Thus this book isn't designed for liturgical use or as a truly modern English equivalent work using standardized spellings.
Most of the books are translated from the Gottingen Edition (a long-term work in progress). Where they are not, they revert back to the older Rahlfs (Stuttgart: 1935). e.g., Proverbs & Ecclesiastes. The order followed appears to be fully congruent with the Greek Orthodox Church variant (see Orthodox Study Bible, 2008, though this excludes 4 Maccabees), broken out into 4 categories (Laws, Histories, Poetic Books, and Prophecies); the Apocrypha/Deutero-canonical books are included interspersed throughout the OT, and it ends with Daniel (which goes Susanna/Daniel/Bel & the Dragon).
What makes this work so valuable include:
- letter to the reader from the co-chairs,
- the identification of each translator for each specifc work,
- the wonderful introductions for each work by the individual translator, and, most importantly,
- the Psalms of Solomon are translated,
- the additional variant readings of various books.
Thus there are two versions of Judges, Esther, Tobit, and Daniel (including the additions, in Old Greek and Theodotion versions). These additional versions are worth the price of the book alone!
A few small things bug me.
- The Prayer of Manasses (Manasseh), translated from Rahlfs' Ode 12, is buried at the end of Psalms, after Psalm 151.
- The Book of Nehemiah is in 2 Esdras 11-23; it is just barely noted in the introduction and text.
- There is no lengthy discussion about the Septuagint in general, or its use of the Septuagint in the Christian Church over the centuries (e.g., Orthodox & Roman Catholic (canonical scripture) vs Anglican/Lutheran (in Bible but not used for dogma) vs general Protestant (not in Bible)), or the differences in the "canon" of these works across Orthodox (longest), Roman Catholic (shortest), with Anglican & Lutheran disagreeing (in 1 & 2 Esdras: in Anglican KJV but not Luther's Bible), though each has slightly more books than Roman Catholic. For this type discussion, see the recently published The Apocrypha--Lutheran Edition with Notes (Concordia Publishing House, 2012; using full ESV Apocrypha from Oxford University Press, 2009).
Anyone interested in the Septuagint should have, read, and study this outstanding work. It deserves to be in any serious English-speaking Christian's biblical library. The Septuagint was the OT used by Greek-speaking Jews in the period before and after Christ, and thus was the basis for the early Church's OT, used by the Apostles and the Patristic Fathers.
Until I bought this copy of NETS, I had been using Sir Lancelot Brenton's translation online. I have already found that the NETS comes much closer to my understanding of the Greek, with the added bonus of it losing the archaic language of Brenton (though what's not to like about Saul angrily calling Jonathan "thou son of traitorous damsels!"?). In addition, NETS translates both A and B textual traditions in Judges, unlike Brenton (though as I only utilize Brenton online, I am not entirely sure if the book version would have both), and this is useful when comparing to Rahlfs. I find NETS to be much more suited to delving into the text of the LXX, both in the scope of its translation and its updated language.
That all being said, just as the LXX itself was the work of many translators, so is this NETS, and most translators were just given one book each to translate, with a few exceptions. So one is never going to agree with all of the translation choices. For example, 1 Reigns (1 Samuel) 10:12 has "is Saul also among the prophets?" as becoming an "illustration" in Israel, rather than a "parable", even though the Greek word itself is "parabole". Strictly speaking, "illustration" can be considered a valid choice, but it seems to me like the translator is being a bit too cute, especially as the same word is translated as "proverb" in the NRSV itself, and then consistently translated as "parable" in the NRSV New Testament. Furthermore, the different meanings of "illustration" in English actually make it a more confusing translation choice. Decisions like this give rise to the suspicion that the translator is sometimes a little more concerned with giving their own unique rendition as opposed to the most obvious and clear translation. However, these kind of personal disagreements are unavoidable with someone else's translation, and to me the weight of NETS definitely falls comfortably on the side of accuracy.
I expect one's view of NETS would be based a lot on context too. I can't imagine it being too readable as a purely English version, but for breaking down the Koine of the LXX, it is fantastic. Used in tandem with the Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint, I am finding NETS to be an extremely useful tool indeed, and am extremely happy with the purchase.