Best translation of Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls?


#1

I’m wondering if anyone can recommend a really good translation of both? I’m waiting for the Eastern Orthodox Bible, which will have a new translation of the Septuagint which will supposedly be REALLY good, but I’m wondering if anyone has any other recommendations?


#2

There are no very good translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) in to English (avoid anything with Geza Vermes' name on it especially). There are several serviceable-to-good Septuagint (LXX) translations. From what I've seen of the Eastern Orthodox Bible - the New Testament, which has been out for a while - I would not trust the translators to get Genesis 1:1 right, which is understandable, granted that it's being translated, edited, etc. in a Wikipedia-like fashion mostly by people who have very little understanding of the original. The Holy Apostles' Convent New Testament (in 2 vol.) is better if you want an "Orthodox" edition, but it's very, very wooden (I'm not talking NASB-level woodenness; I'm speaking of Concordant or Young's Literal-level), and constantly mistranslates any words with the root "erg" (energy or work words) to reflect the essence-energies distinction, like the NIV mistranslates "paradosis" (tradition) and sometimes the "erg" words (with a focus on cheap grace as opposed to grace working through faith/Lordship Salvation).

The Orthodox Study Bible's OT isn't even an LXX. It's called an LXX (the "St Athanasius Academy Septuagint"), but there are more places where it contradicts the LXX and agrees with the Hebrew than vice-versa. It's, as known, an NKJV OT and NT (which is an excellent translation), but with the OT once-overed to get some of it to agree with the LXX (basically, the numbers in the genealogies, granted that the story of Cain and Abel is likewise from the Hebrew and is missing the LXX "let us go abroad in to the field" addition). It may be usable for devotional reading, but for study of the Septuagint, no.

Now, to the actual English translations:

You have Brenton, which is a Greek and English diaglott, almost an exact reproduction of Vaticanus graecus 1209/Codex B, instead of a critical text. Some, but few, variant readings from Alexandrinus and Sinaiticus are listed in the margin. It uses the King James Version as boilerplate, and conforms it (properly and fully) to the LXX, so it uses archaic English. I recommend this version for those who have some facility with Greek. It translates the standard Hebrew canon, and puts all of the LXX extra material (which became the deuterocanon) in the back.

You have the New English Translation of the Septuagint, which is English-only, and is based on the thoroughly modern LXX critical text as distilled from both the Gottingen Septuagint and Rahlf's. It uses the NRSV as boilerplate, and conforms it (somewhat less properly and fully) to the LXX, so it uses modern English that is sometimes gender-neutered and often has the prophecies of Christ or foreshadowings of the Trinity removed (such as Gen 1:2f), although not as badly as the NRSV. It has the Hebrew and Greek books interspersed in ancient LXX order, and translates several versions of some books, such as Kings and the Prophet Daniel, which are extant in multiple ancient Greek translations. I recommend this version to people who already use the NRSV (since it allows for easy comparison of the LXX and Masoretic text), and for those who have no knowledge of Greek whatsoever.

Then you have Rahlf's Manual Edition, which is Greek-only, and is my recommendation for those who can read LXX Greek.

Avoid the Panayiotis Septuagint for any use (it's plain wrong), and the OSB Septuagint for any "scholarly" or "studied" use (involving comparison, etc.) as opposed to a quick reading.

For the Dead Sea Scrolls, I would avoid anything with Geza Vermes' name on it, as I mentioned. He's like the Jewish version of the Jesus Seminar, and is involved with many DSS projects, and is the editor/commentator for all of the Penguin editions. For the DSS, the best and foremost authority for English translation is Martin Abegg, director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute. I would recommend The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Translated and with Commentary by Abegg, Wise, and Cook. The translation called The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible by Abegg, Flint, and Ulrich, which is a less-detailed and more-popular (sensationalist) presentation of the material in A New Translation, lacking most of the commentary and having ellipses and lacunae filled in by the editors instead of being left blank.


#3

Apostolic Polyglot is an lxx interlinear (available for free at bible.cc if you hunt for it).

Other than Prot canon only, it's great!


#4

[quote="Farmer88, post:1, topic:334938"]
I'm wondering if anyone can recommend a really good translation of both? I'm waiting for the Eastern Orthodox Bible, which will have a new translation of the Septuagint which will supposedly be REALLY good, but I'm wondering if anyone has any other recommendations?

[/quote]

No, although Abegg, Flint and Ulrich are pretty good on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

All of the English translations of the LXX have serious issues--I'm not sure what's available in other languages.


#5

Well, I'm definitely not reading any translation of the Septuagint in any other language aside from English. It's a shame that the translators felt the need to edit it to compare it to the Masoretic. Why couldn't they have just translated it without the need to screw around with it?


#6

Because they didn't and/or couldn't actually translate it fresh. The editors used the NKJV and adapted it only when it conflicts with the LXX, changing a word here or a word there when the Hebrew and Greek can not conceivably have the same semantic field. But the end result leaves one to wonder what "conflicts with the LXX" meant, which likely varied greatly based on the contributor, as some sections (such as the Psalms) are scrupulously faithful to the LXX, whereas others, like Genesis, Kings, Job, etc. look like someone shuffled a deck of "Hebrew" and "Greek" cards together and printed the end result.


#7

EMERITUS PROFESSOR ALAN D. CROWN was until recently head of the Department of Semitic studies within the University of Sydney. A distinguished scholar, Professor Crown is a world authority on Samaritan Hebrew and Aramaic, and on Samaritan paleography. He is in charge of the Dead Sea Scrolls Research Centre at Varnton, Oxford.

He wrote a four part commentary for ANNALS AUSTRALASIA

Written at Qumran? Essene? Christian? Jewish?

REVISITING THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

viewable at jloughnan.tripod.com/dsscrolls.htm


#8

Well, that’s a shame. Kind of a pathetic partial try.


#9

I know. That was the general consensus amongst the Orthodox blogosphere - if anything the consensus was quite a bit harsher. I still like the OSB and find it to be one of the top 5 study Bibles made, probably top 3: it's just that the OT isn't quite an LXX. It's still the word of God, as Hebrew is the word of God: but it's not a complete LXX, if you're looking to study it (or if you're an Orthodox who believes it to be inspired).


#10

So are there any good LXXs translated into English that aren't tampered with in one way or another?

And what's wrong with Geza versus Abegg? I recently saw copies of both the Abegg one you recommended, then I also saw Geza's on the shelf as well.


#11

I think both Brenton and NETS are good, and neither one has been tampered with. The NETS, based on the NRSV, has less errors than the NRSV, but the errors that are there, came from the NRSV, not the NETS revision committee.

Geza Vermes, as I said above, is a bit like a Jewish Jesus Seminar, or a Jewish Bart Ehrman (remembering that Jews consider themselves Jews even when they cease to believe in God). He's an apostate from the Catholic Church, like the founder of the Jesus Seminar, and is a former priest, like John Dominic Crossan, and writes sensationalistically. He's a big proponent of the "revolutionary Jew, the historical Jesus" and a big opponent of virtually every Christian teaching on Jesus. He also believes the NT likewise to be mainly pious fiction from the early "Christian communities", and sometimes holds forth on the whole Qumran "teacher of righteousness" being Peter or Christ and "accursed one" being Paul "the traitor".

If you want to learn about Jesus in the Jewish milieux, read EP Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, or Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People at the Time of Jesus Christ (which, ironically, has a new edition edited by Vermes). A Marginal Jew and Christian Origins and the Question of God are also good as well, if none of the above can be claimed to be completely orthodox.

Abegg is both the more qualified and much more even-headed scholar, although Vermes is certainly academically qualified - he was one of the first of the public to inspect the DSS - he just had wrong ideas.

Vermes' The Dead Sea Scrolls in English was the standard translation until Abegg's A New Translation. The latter is the better and more informative book, and contains new information that wasn't available or publicly available when Vermes' book came out (the early 1960s). The "anniversary edition" of Vermes issued by Penguin Classics has more infidel commentary than the original, as the Anglosphere has become more accepting of heresy, since 1960 (remember that he supposedly was not allowed in to the Dominicans because he was born a Jew, at that time) - however it is only $10. If you have the money and really want to study the DSS, buy and read both - although the energy expended on reading multiple English translations of noncanonical documents is likely better expended on learning the original language.


#12

I got the New Translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I also found both the NETS as well as the Brenton translations of the LXX online. Do you recommend any other collections of Apocrypha or extrabiblical documents? Not including the Fathers, those writings are all in a while different category for me.


#13

You mean the “true” apocrypha (properly called “pseudepigrapha”) like the books of Enoch and Jubilees, and the Gnostic gospels and apocryphal Acts?

That’s an easy one, if that’s the question, as the entirety of English translations of all known pseudepigraphic documents are available in three English books.

These are,

For the OT: The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in 2 vol., ed. James H Charlesworth (the current director of Princeton’s DSS research), containing about sixty books in 2,000 pages, from the three books of Enoch, to 3-4 Maccabees, to the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, etc. etc. One volume is of apocalypses, and the other is of pseudepigraphal other works.

For the NT: The New Testament Apocrypha in 2 vol. ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher, Englished by RM Wilson. Contains almost all of the NT apocrypha, one volume of gospels, and one volume of Acts and apocalypses.

For the Gnostic documents: The Nag Hammadi Library by James M Robinson. This is the standard translation. The NTApocrypha set contains some of the Gnostic documents, but not all of them. Avoid the English translation called The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, which is poorly done and gender-neutered to the nth degree (when the originals speak of the “son of man”, it’s translated as “child of humanity”, and worse).


#14

Oh, sweet, nice, thanks. What would not true or false Apocrypha be?


#15

Protestants use a different nomenclature, which is reflected in many books. The “true” apocrypha are the pseudepigrapha, by my use; the “so-called apocrypha” or “false” apocrypha are the deuterocanonical books or the “apocrypha” as present in the apocrypha sections of Bibles “with the Apocrypha”, such as an RSV, ESV, or KJV. Which is actually inverted.

Learned Protestants call the 66 books (such as Genesis) “the Bible”, the Catholic books (such as Maccabees) “the Apocrypha”, and the Orthodox books (such as 3 Esdras) either “apocrypha” or “pseudepigrapha”, and the rest of the books than no Church accepts (such as Enoch) as “pseudepigrapha”. (Less-learned Protestants call everything except the 66 “apocrypha”.)

Catholics call the 66 books “the Protocanon”, an additional 6 books and several parts of books “the Deuterocanon” (such as Maccabees, Wisdom, Additions to Esther), and call the entire 72/3 books put together “the Bible”. What Catholics call “the Deuterocanon” is called “apocrypha” by Protestants. Catholics call the rest of the books that no Church accepts (such as Enoch) “apocrypha”. (The Orthodox-accepted books of 3 Esdras and 3 Maccabees, etc. are often called “apocrypha” by Catholics as well, and are called by the Orthodox anagignoskomena).

Orthodox call the 66 books “the Bible”, and include an expanded version of what Catholics call “deuterocanon” in this Bible, and call the 77/8 books put together “the Bible”. The books that come from the Septuagint (the Protestant apocrypha/Catholic deuterocanon) instead of the Hebrew (the protocanon) are called by the Orthodox “anagignoskomena”, with books that Orthodox do not accept called “apocrypha”. Some Orthodox view the Septuagintal books as having a lesser authority or inspiration than the protocanonical Hebrew books (which seems a fair view, given the massive historical errors in Judith and Tobit - I call them “massive historical errors”, and I’m a young-earther who believes Genesis to be accurate history!).

So, Protestants have two “classes” of noncanonical books: apocrypha (Catholic/Orthodox canon) and pseudepigrapha (no canon). Catholics and Orthodox each have one, called “apocrypha”. And then one is left with the result that many Catholics call the Catholic books not present in the Protestant Bible “the Apocrypha”, just as the Protestants do (such as the fact that we buy Bibles “with the Apocrypha” as often as we buy “Catholic Editions”, and never buy a “King James Bible with the Deuterocanon”). It’s a confusing state of nomenclatures.

All of the books called “apocrypha”, “deuterocanon”, “pseudepigrapha”, etc. are ancient. They’re generally cut-off around the 4th century AD, although a third volume of Charlesworth is in the works, planned to include works up to ca. AD 900. Modern forgeries such as The Gospel of Barnabas or The Secret Gospel of Mark are not “apocrypha”, just modern forgeries.


#16

Interesting. Though I did know most of that already, haha. I just wasn't sure what you meant by true versus false. From my understanding about Judith and Tobit, it's less the historical inaccuracies and more that we are probably misunderstanding what they actually are as books. Maybe they were intentionally inaccurate.

As to you being a young Earth believer, I'm not even going to touch that with a hundred foot pole, so that's off the table.

But very interesting as to which books for me to take a look at in regards to Catholic Apocrypha. I'll definitely consider them.


#17

[quote="Khalid, post:11, topic:334938"]
I think both Brenton and NETS are good, and neither one has been tampered with. The NETS, based on the NRSV, has less errors than the NRSV, but the errors that are there, came from the NRSV, not the NETS revision committee.

Geza Vermes, as I said above, is a bit like a Jewish Jesus Seminar, or a Jewish Bart Ehrman (remembering that Jews consider themselves Jews even when they cease to believe in God). He's an apostate from the Catholic Church, like the founder of the Jesus Seminar, and is a former priest, like John Dominic Crossan, and writes sensationalistically. He's a big proponent of the "revolutionary Jew, the historical Jesus" and a big opponent of virtually every Christian teaching on Jesus. He also believes the NT likewise to be mainly pious fiction from the early "Christian communities", and sometimes holds forth on the whole Qumran "teacher of righteousness" being Peter or Christ and "accursed one" being Paul "the traitor".

[/quote]

Are you sure you're not mixing the late Vermes up with someone else - like Robert Eisenman?

Oh, and since we're talking about his Jewish background: Vermes was born to a secular Hungarian Jewish family in 1924. Around 1931, his family converted to Catholicism - just as Nazism was about to rise. Vermes claimed that perhaps his parents were only motivated to do so because of anti-Semitic sentiments prevalent at that time: in other words for social reasons.

He was able to enter a seminary and attain a higher education in 1942 (especially considering that Jews in Hungary could not enroll in universities at that time). It basically saved him from being deported in the Holocaust - which is what happened to his parents in 1944. The anti-Jewish legislation in Hungary counted as Catholics only Jews who had converted prior to 1919; in order to be recognized as non-Jewish one had to produce documents certifying that one's grandparents were Christian. Soon Vermes was on the run himself - assisted along the way by a number of priests and bishops, including the parish priest (later a bishop) who baptized his parents. The priest gave him recommendations for the University of Budapest; Vermes was saved by the Russian occupation of the city in 1944.

He tried to become a Jesuit and then a Dominican (applying two times for the latter), but both times he was turned down because of his Jewish ancestry. Eventually he joined the Fathers of Notre-Dame de Sion, which was founded by Jewish converts and consisted largely of former Jews, and was ordained in 1950.

If you ask me, in light of all this, I don't think it is very strange that Vermes would soon revert back to Judaism.


#18

Do you also know of any good translations of the Nag Hammadi texts?


#19

The Nag Hammadi Library by Robinson, not The Nag Hammadi Scriptures by Meyer. See previous post for reasoning.


#20

[quote="Khalid, post:19, topic:334938"]
The Nag Hammadi Library by Robinson, not The Nag Hammadi Scriptures by Meyer. See previous post for reasoning.

[/quote]

Oh, right, duh, haha. I completely missed it.


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