- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 19, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199781729
- ISBN-13: 978-0199781720
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible 1st Edition
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"Law writes lucidly and compellingly, presenting evidence and arguments that readers in communities of faith will find intelligible and enlightening. His book is the rare gift of an accessible update on scholarship's relevance for those seeking to practice faith."--Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
"Law has succeeded in a rare and difficult task: providing a clear narrative retelling of the development of an ancient text. Of course, like anyone else, he is an interpreter of history rather than an objective observer, but Law presents a story where scholarly backbone and narrative flesh cohere... Law convincingly demonstrates the central role the Septuagint played in the New Testament and the early church. The church's understanding of Scripture is undernourished when the Septuagint is ignored or relegated to peripheral status." --David Gundersen, Boyce College Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"[A] fresh perspective...[Law] brilliantly turns accepted wisdom about the nature of biblical text on its head...[He is] aware that good history is a solvent for lazy and often harmful promulgations...[He writes] with an implicit moral purpose." --London Review of Books
"It is a gripping tale, beautifully told, and should be of profound interest to any reader of the Jewish or Christian Bible Timothy Michael Law has written the first introduction to the LXX that can be read by people outside the guild. It is a remarkable book, full of fascinating detail that I cannot evoke in a short review, a book that tells a rich story that no reader of the Bible can afford to ignore." --Los Angeles Review of Books
An ambitious, accessible, and intelligent survey of the context, composition, and contributions of the Septuagint to Christian Scripture and theology. This is a fine introduction to an underappreciated subject...Recommended. --CHOICE
"A splendid work...I haven't found any book so interesting and enjoyable in years." --Sir Fergus Millar, Camden Professor of Ancient History (Emeritus), Oxford, and Fellow of the British Academy
"When churchgoers and church watchers wonder about the origins of Christian theology, questions about the Septuagint's importance for the New Testament and patristic era do not dominate their concerns. Law laments this lack of attention and enthusiastically explains the Septuagint s history, its significance for early Christian writers, and the reasons it all but disappeared from theological discourse in the Christian West." --The Christian Century
"Strong and engaging... Law's argument for the Septuagint's return as an authoritative text is persuasive and dissenters will be hard-pressed to deny it a place" --Freedom in Orthodoxy
"An original thinker, Timothy Michael Law portrays the birth, development, and theological impact of the Septuagint on Christianity and western civilization, and analyzes in a fascinating way the Septuagint as a creation in its own right and not only as a translation. This innovative study, incorporating the very latest research, is meant for the scholar and learned reader alike." --Emanuel Tov, J.L. Magnes Professor of Bible, the Hebrew University
"Law overturns the assumptions of most Christians about their sacred scripture. He points out that the Greek text of the Septuagint was the early Church's Bible, that it predates the Hebrew Scripture now commonly accepted, and that it presents plural traditions of ancient Hebrew biblical texts, many now lost to us. Fundamentalists will find these unpalatable truths; others will find that Law points to new delights in their reading of scripture." --Diarmaid N.J. MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, Oxford University
"Law provides a thorough, readable introduction to the Septuagint's formation, distinctiveness, impact upon the New Testament writers, and ongoing life in the Christian Church. Law boldly challenges us to reckon with the theological implications of multiple 'Old Testaments' informing early Judaism and Christianity and to consider the Septuagint afresh as Christian Scripture. We cannot afford to ignore the testimony this book offers." --David A. deSilva, Trustees' Distinguished Professor, Ashland Theological Seminary
"[Law writes] to acquaint interested non-specialists with the importance of the Septuagint. They are wooed effectively with warm-hearted argument.... [The] narrative argument brings the biblical and patristic periods together in a way which may help many who are learning the subject primarily from a biblical angle. It shows once again, for those who may not realize it, how fundamental the Septuagint has been for Christianity. The author's lively apologetic and polemic are not always the same as guidance for non-specialists, but his particular target audience is a vital one for biblical and ancient Jewish studies. May the book stir many who come to these fields." --Journal of Jewish Studies
"When God Spoke Greek succeeds in remaining accessible to the educated reader whilst satisfying the scholarly expectations of the professional biblical scholar. Law is to be commended on an impressive achievement." --SOTS Book List 2014
"Reading Law's book is a bit like reading the biography of someone you once knew, but not well. It is full of information you never suspected was true... Law's vivid re-creation of the Greco-Roman world into which the Septuagint was born and of the culture it helped shape is more than readable. It is fascinating." --Theological Studies
"...[A] good and lively read... intended to convey Law's sense of the importance of the Septuagint, to enthuse and to inspire readers to explore the subject further, and its accessibility and entertaining style achieve this aim very well." --Journal of Theological Studies
"...[O]ne of those rare volumes which successfully communicates a fascinating general overview fully grounded in serious academic research... Law's manifesto calls for the Academy to return to the study of the Septuagint as the great document of the rise of Christianity, and the Church to re-engage with the Septuagint as part of its Biblical inheritance... NETS and Law would together be a perfect introduction to the Bible which shaped Western culture and the Christian Church." --The Oxonian Review
"...I love this book. Laws' insights into the Septuagint and differing translations, mistranslations, and thematical development was engaging. He also makes strong points about the value of the Septuagint for the Church today. It's hard to understand some of the exegetical nuances in the New Testament without a knowledge of the Septuagint. It was the Bible (a term Law might not use) of the NT and early Church. Pastors and exegetes would do well in prizing the Septuagint and valuing its contribution to our theology." --Grace For Sinners Blog
"Overall When God Spoke Greek is engaging and easy to read--yet still stimulating. Law is a master of his material, and that his knowledge and insight goes deeper even that what is conained on these pages is evident." --Words on the Word Blog
"...Law has written a clear historical account of how the Septuagint became the authoritative OT Scripture of the early church." --Themelios
About the Author
Timothy Michael Law is founder, publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of The Marginalia Review of Books (themarginaliareview.com). He is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in the Seminar für Altes Testament in the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (with Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kratz). He spent 2009-2012 as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxford, and until 2014 remains Junior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
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Top Customer Reviews
Timothy Law's well-grounded research brings out the plurality that existed among many of the Old Testament texts, which existed before and even after the New Testament was written. That's indisputable. His claim that the Jewish canon of the Old Testament was not firmly in place until into the 2nd Century AD is also strong. However, I do disagree with his tenant that such textual plurality was freely accepted without much concern about what the autographs, the original text, may have said.
What Law's book shows ever so clearly is this: When Jesus quoted the Old Testament, He quoted from the Septuagint, not from what would become the Masoretic Text. (Today, most Old Testament translations are based on the Masoretic Text.) Even more, most of the New Testament also relied on the Septuagint. So, today, any astute reader would find a lack of harmony between the New Testament quotations of our Old Testament of today. But that would not be the case for the Septuagint, the de-facto Old Testament for Jesus and His Apostles.
I especially delighted in Law's explanation of the theological points the New Testament writers were making when they quoted something from the Septuagint not in the Masoretic Text. For that reason, chapter 8 is a chapter in which all students of the New Testament would delight.
Some may find Law's higher-critical views disturbing. But that should not keep one from reading the book. For what one will glean from how the New Testament uses the Old should outweigh any challenge one may have from Law's implication that one, inspired Scriptural text may have never existed. I hold to the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, and I think the only Christians who would be unable to get past Law's worldview would be hard-core fundamentalists.
So, if you consider yourself a hard-core fundamentalist, don't read the book. It may disturb your faith and simply make you angry. If you are not, then read the book to take in the good (which is especially good!) and deal with the author's higher-critical views in your own way.
I now end the formal review and state a couple of opinions based on reading this book. Some questions modern-day Christians should ask are these: "Why did we ever buy into the idea of the Masoretic Text's superiority when Jesus and His Apostles preferred the Septuagint? Why would we accept a textual tradition that preserved and kept a text that differs from the Old Testament that the New Testament quoted?" That doesn't make sense.
If Jesus and His Apostles are the cornerstone and foundation of the Church, then the Septuagint should be our primary text. After all, it was their primary Old Testament text. When God Spoke Greek shows that ever so vividly. This would then make the Dead-Sea scrolls and Masoretic Text secondary sources, which would help our understanding of the Septuagint.
- the legendary aspect of the original composition of the LXX
- the dates and circumstances of the OT translations and the Apocryphal translations/compositions
- the Second Temple landscape within which variant textual traditions took root
- differences in the translations reflecting mistranslations, genuine variants, additions and deletions, and transpositions in the text
- usage of the LXX by the writers of the NT and the theological implications for the Church
- histories of:
* the Hellenistic context of the emergence of the LXX
* formation of the OT canon and implications for the Christian deuterocanon
* use of the LXX and MT by the Church in the east and the west and contributions of Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome
Law usually refers to the NETS translation of the Septuagint, so the reader may cross-check his wording and explore other variations in that work, which serves as a kind of companion to this introduction. The LXX scriptures are still used by the Greek-speaking Orthodox Churches. Their abandonment in the West can in large part be attributed to Jerome, whose ego, bias for the Hebrew scriptures, and unique positioning within the Latin Church all but guaranteed the MT's prevalence in the Vulgate and its preference by Catholics and Protestants ever since the 5th Century.
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I recommend every serious Christian.