DOI:10.5508/jhs.2010.v10.r36

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 10 (2010) - Review

Voitila, Anssi and Jutta Jokiranta (eds.) Scripture in Transition: Essays on Septuagint, Hebrew Bible, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honour of Raija Sollamo (SJSJ, 126; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008). Pp. xxxviii+748. Hardcover. US$239.00. ISBN 9789004165823.

This Festschrift in honor of Professor Raija Sollamo contains an overwhelming number of contributions, as noted in the Preface (p. xiv).  The 46 articles published together here also span an impressive range of disciplines, methods, and topics. Some articles focus on objects at the micro level (e.g. Greek renderings of a Hebrew preposition), while others address broad methodological concerns. What brings the articles together is a common interest in the fluid textual condition of our earliest witnesses to the Hebrew Bible, its earliest versions, and related texts. All but three of the articles appear in English: one is in French (Schenker) and two are in German (Aejmelaeus, Lars; Sārkiö). Two articles pertain to New Testament studies (Aejmelaeus, Lars; Wassen).

The volume has been thoughtfully organized with a view toward readers with interests in particular disciplines. Three organizational elements are especially noteworthy. First, the volume is divided into five main disciplines: (1) Translation and Interpretation (17 articles); (2) Textual History (12 articles); (3) Hebrew and Greek Linguistics (4 articles); (4) Dead Sea Scrolls (10 articles); (5) Present-Day (3 articles). Second, the Preface includes an “Introduction to the Volume” with brief abstracts of each article, providing a useful guide to the specific issues addressed in the volume. This Introduction also gives the rationale for the arrangement of articles within Part One. Third, an “Index of Ancient Sources” and an “Index of Modern Authors” are patently useful research tools.

Since it is not feasible to offer a detailed critical review of each of the 46 articles, I provide here a largely descriptive and selective treatment with a few critical and structural observations. In order to communicate the overall breadth of content, I have included a complete list of articles at the end of this review. (I have sequentially numbered the articles both in reference to the collection as a whole as well as in respect to the divisions in which they are ordered. The numbering has not been carried out in the volume itself.)

The primary strengths of this collection are two-fold: (1) The individual articles generally provide transparency of data analysis and method; (2) the collection as a whole facilitates interdisciplinary study and dialog. In the first instance, the reader is able carefully to track a contributor's approach to and analysis of specific objects of inquiry. If concluding statements in an article appear overly generalized, which is sometimes the case, the reader is able to modify that assessment since both the data and associated analyses are presented. Secondly, the incorporation of interdisciplinary and broad methodological contributions assists the reader who will inevitably ask the larger framework questions. How do the data ultimately impact our understanding of what it meant then and means now for religiously authoritative writings to undergo a transitional process? How do different approaches to assessing data impact how we formulate what we see, or think we see, in our data? These are the kinds of questions that data alone do not answer, but such questions cannot possibly be answered without the data. What one article in this collection may lack will often find compensation in another article. It is precisely this complementarity that makes Scripture in Transition a model collection of articles, and it is also its justification for both the number and range of articles included. The interdependence that emerges between micro and macro level studies is certainly one of the major contributions of the volume as a whole.

The majority of articles in Part One, “Translation and Interpretation,” pertain to the Greek Septuagint/LXX or Old Greek/OG. Only one addresses the Vulgate (Sipilā) and thus appears to fall outside the primary chronological framework of the volume, which is given roughly as “around the turn of the era” on the back of the book jacket. The time frame in view is otherwise stated as “that period in which Scripture was not yet fixed” in which the form of various authoritative writings “was more or less in transition” (p. xiv). A broad interpretation of those parameters might include Old Latin, Vulgate, Peshitta, Targumim, and other versions, but the narrower expression (“turn of the era”) is the one most operative among most of the contributions, although additional exceptions are found in Part Two (see below).

The 17 essays in Part One can be subdivided as follows: Section 1: Translation (11 articles); Section 2: Interpretation (6 articles). Section 1 is further divided as follows: (1a) Six essays investigate issues of translation technique at the micro level, i.e. where both the translation phenomena and the text selections under consideration are narrow. For example, two articles cover Greek renderings of specific types of prepositions or prepositional phrases in selected texts (Tenhunen; Hauspie). In some cases transparency of the argument could have been facilitated if the data had been presented in tabular form (see for example the summary paragraphs on pp. 3–4 and 15–16). Lemmelijn investigates the renderings of names for flowers, trees and fruit, herbs and spices in the Song of Songs. Ausloos studies the rendering of Hebrew proper names in Judges (1b). The next five studies examine broader methodological issues of translation theory (2). The final six articles in Part One address issues of interpretation.

One notes especially in the first section various attempts to characterize translations as “faithful,” “slavish,” “free,” “literal,” or “fairly literal,” but one isn't always sure how each author formally defines these terms, nor to what extent extrapolations can be made from the narrow objects under investigation to a work as a whole. The methodological contributions in the following sections provide corrective lenses through which to assess the data with greater acumen, for example through a better understanding of the structural linguistic relationships between the source and target languages (van der Louw), or by considering the possible changing function or Sitz im Leben of the translated text as compared with its source (Boyd-Taylor), or by asking an even more fundamental question as to whether the Septuagint was originally meant to be read as an independent text, and not rather as “a kind of ‘interlinear’ crib intended to assist Jewish pupils in the study of the Hebrew text” (Joosten, pp. 164–165; Joosten does not subscribe to the interlinear hypothesis). Ulrich demonstrates how much more careful we must be in drawing conclusions about translation technique when assumptions about the Hebrew Vorlage are incorrect.

Part Two addresses aspects of “Textual History” that engage various recensions of Greek, Coptic, Old Latin, Samaritan Pentateuch, and Ethiopic traditions. Part Two is interestingly framed by an introductory article asking that we philosophically examine more closely the question: “Why Should We Care About the Original Text?” (McLay), and a closing article describing ongoing efforts to gather and to provide online access to a growing set of textual variant data for the LXX/OG (Kraft). The question raised by McLay is fueled by the data collection described by Kraft. Indeed, one notices that scholars who confront the entire textual record of all extant manuscripts tend to speak less definitively when they refer to textual traditions. For example, Kraft begins his contribution with reference to “the various LXX/OG documents and traditions” as opposed to using terminology indicative of a monolithic entity, such as the LXX or the OG. That is not to say that these scholars dismiss the notion of a “pristine original” no longer extant. But there is a real pluriformity of textual traditions, whatever their ultimate causes or origins. Thus McLay's philosophical question is embedded with pragmatism. So what if we someday confidently reconstruct the “original” form of a text, or discover an “original manuscript” itself, assuming that such a thing actually existed? McLay accepts that the “pursuit of the original text will continue to receive attention and is an important academic endeavor” (p. 299), but the interesting question remains: What historical communities used that “original” text in their day-to-day lives and in their theological musings?

Part Three, “Hebrew and Greek Linguistics,” deepens the analysis of textual “transitions” by asking fundamental questions regarding, for example, the very nature of the Greek employed for purposes of translation (Walser, a study on the macro level), or the role of lexicographical analysis in determining whether or not etymologising has occurred with respect to one Greek verb (Muraoka, a study on the micro level).

Part Four, “Dead Sea Scrolls,” situates our transitional texts in the context of a historical community. The contributions in this section address with concrete examples how the texts available to the Qumran community in particular functioned in terms of shifting worldviews and new theological/ideological emphases. Examples include changes evident in covenantal discourse under influence of a dualistic worldview (Metso), and the extent to which “prophecy” was still an operative phenomenon (Nissinen; Brooke).

Part Five, “Present-Day,” addresses practical strategies for education and the implementation of effective means for “making acquired knowledge accessible and understandable” (Preface, p. xxiii). In view of so much misinformation still in wide circulation, reliable information about the Septuagint must be included in serious Jewish studies (Greenspoon). It is imperative that effective pedagogical tools continue to be developed for the teaching of biblical languages; the internet has become an increasingly used, and useful, means of instruction (Hakola and Kiilunen).

While this very truncated review cannot possibly do justice to the quality and wealth of information available in the individual contributions to this volume, I wish to express my overall deep appreciation for the way in which Scripture in Transition has brought together such a wide range of studies into a single volume with a clear focus. Specialists in the various disciplines represented in the volume will certainly agree and disagree with differing aspects of the material, but the volume more than serves its multiple roles of engaging scholarship, moving research forward constructively, addressing pedagogical concerns, and last, but certainly not least, of fittingly honoring Professor Raija Sollamo to whom the Festschrift is presented.

Gary D. Martin, University of Washington, Seattle

List of Articles


Jutta Jokiranta and Anssi Voitila: Preface

Part One: Translation and Interpretation

1. Katri Tenhunen, “The Renderings of the Hebrew Preposition ל in Predicate Expressions Denoting Transition and Becoming Something in LXX Genesis and Exodus,” 1–16.

2. Seppo Sipilā, “The Book of Joshua in the Vulgate,” 17–26.

3. Bénédicte Lemmelijn, “Flora In Cantico Canticorum: Towards a More Precise Characterisation of Translation Technique in the LXX of Song of Songs,” 27–52.

4. Hans Ausloos, “LXX's Rendering of Hebrew Proper Names and the Characterisation of Translation Technique of the Book of Judges,” 53–72.

5. Marko Marttila, “‘Statute’ or ‘Covenant’? Remarks on the Rendering of the word חק in the Greek Ben Sira,” 73–88.

6. Katrin Hauspie, “Prepositional Phrases in the Septuagint of Ezekiel,” 89–106.

7. Theo A. W. van der Louw, “Linguistic or Ideological Shifts? The Problem-Oriented Study of Transformations as a Methodological Filter,” 107–126.

8. Cameron Boyd-Taylor, “An Ear for an Eye—Lay Literacy and the Septuagint,” 127–146.

9. Benjamin G. Wright III, “Transcribing, Translating, and Interpreting in the Letter of Aristeas: On the Nature of the Septuagint,” 147–162.

10. Jan Joosten, “Reflections on the ‘Interlinear Paradigm’ in Septuagintal Studies,” 163–178.

11. Arie van der Kooij, “The Promulgation of the Pentateuch in Greek according to the Letter of Aristeas,” 179–192.

12. Eugene Ulrich, “Light from 1QIsaa on the Translation Technique of the Old Greek Translator of Isaiah,” 193–204.

13. John J. Collins, “Isaiah 8:23–9:6 and Its Greek Translation,” 205–222.

14. Johan Lust, “The Sour Grapes: Ezekiel 18,” 223–238.

15. Robert J. V. Hiebert, “The Greek Pentateuch and 4 Maccabees,” 239–254.

16. Albert Pietersma, “Not Quite Angels: A Commentary on Psalm 8 in Greek,” 255–274.

17. Emanuel Tov, “A Textual-Exegetical Commentary on Three Chapters in the Septuagint,” 275–290.


Part Two: Textual History

1. / 18. R. Timothy McLay, “Why Should We Care about the Original Text?” 291–300.

2. / 19. Peter J. Gentry, “Old Greek and Later Revisers: Can We Always Distinguish Them?” 301–328.

3. / 20. Kristen De Troyer, “On the Name of God in the Old Greek Schøyen Leviticus Papyrus,” 329–338.

4. / 21. Adrian Schenker, “Le Seigneur choisira-t-il le lieu de son nom ou l'a-t-il choisi? L'apport de la Bible grecque ancienne à l'histoire du texte samaritain et massorétique,” 339–352.

5. / 22. Anneli Aejmelaeus, “A Kingdom at Stake: Reconstructing the Old Greek—Deconstructing the Textus Receptus,” 353–366.

6. / 23. Elina Perttilā, “How to Read the Greek Text behind the Sahidic Coptic,” 367–378.

7. / 24. Ma Victoria Spottorno, “Different Sequences between the Septuagint and Antiochene Texts,” 379–390.

8. / 25. Natalio Fernández Marcos, “New Hexaplaric Readings to the LXX 1 Kings,” 391–400.

9. / 26. Juha Pakkala, “Gedaliah's Murder in 2 Kings 25:25 and Jeremiah 41:1–3,” 401–412.

10. / 27. Michael A. Knibb, “The Greek Vorlage of the Ethiopic Text of Ezekiel,” 413–422.

11. / 28. Claude E. Cox, “The Nature of Lucian's Revision of the Text of Greek Job,” 423–442.

12. / 29. Robert A. Kraft, “Introductions to the LXX Pentateuch: Keeping Things Updated,” 443–448.


Part Three: Hebrew and Greek Linguistics

1. / 30. Georg Walser, “The Greek of the Bible: Translated Greek or Translation Greek?” 449–462.

2. / 31. Takamitsu Muraoka, “Septuagint Lexicography and Hebrew Etymology,” 463–470.

3. / 32. Lars Aejmelaeus, “Die Frage nach dem Dativ in lokativischer Bedeutung im Neuen Testament,” 471–484.

4. / 33. Tapani Harviainen, “The Greek Traditions of Proper Names in the Book of First Esdras and the Problems of Their Transfer into a Modern Translation in the Light of a New Finnish Version,” 485–495.


Part Four: Dead Sea Scrolls

1. / 34. Sarianna Metso, “Shifts in Covenantal Discourse in Second Temple Judaism,” 497–512.

2. / 35. Martti Nissinen, “Transmitting Divine Mysteries: The Prophetic Role of Wisdom Teachers in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” 513–534.

3. / 36. George J. Brooke, “The Place of Prophecy in Coming out of Exile: The Case of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” 535–550.

4. / 37. Pekka Sārkiö, “Ruth and Tamar als fremde Frauen in dem Davidischen Stammbaum,” 551–574.

5. / 38. Bodil Ejrnæs, “David and His Two Women: An Analysis of Two Poems in the Psalms Scroll from Qumran (11Q5),” 575–590.

6. / 39. Mika S. Pajunen, “Qumranic Psalm 91: A Structural Analysis,” 591–606.

7. / 40. Magnus Riska, “The Temple Scroll: Is It More or Less Biblical?” 607–614.

8. / 41. Juhana Markus Saukkonen, “Dwellers at Qumran: Reflections on Their Literacy, Social Status, and Identity,” 615–628.

9. / 42. Hanne von Weissenberg, “‘Canon’ and Identity at Qumran: An Overview and Challenges for Future Research,” 629–640.

10. / 43. Cecilia Wassen, “Jesus and the Hemorrhaging Woman in Mark 5:24–34: Insights from Purity Laws from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” 641–660.


Part Five: Present-Day

1. / 44. Leonard Greenspoon, “‘Reclaiming’ the Septuagint for Jews and Judaism,” 661–670.

2. / 45. Raimo Hakola and Jarmo Kiilunen, “Teaching and Studying Biblical Languages in the Classroom and on the Web: Developments and Experiments at the University of Helsinki since the 1960s,” 671–686.

3. / 46. Heikki Rāisānen, “The Bible among Scriptures,” 687–702.