The Sapiential Septuagint -- By: Edwin M. Yamauchi

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 05:4 (Fall 1962)
Article: The Sapiential Septuagint
Author: Edwin M. Yamauchi


The Sapiential Septuagint

Edwin M. Yamauchi

One of the most noteworthy developments in the field of Old Testament studies has been the acknowledgment of the importance of the Near Eastern setting of the Old Testament, as over against the old Wellhausen view of Israel as an isolated people.1 Nowhere is this development more pertinent than in the study of the sapiential or wisdom books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes.2

The recognition of many Near Eastern parallels to Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes3 from very ancient sources calls for a reexamination of the later Greek parallels adduced for Proverbs, and more especially for Ecclesiastes. Although a final degree of unanimity may never prevail over critical opinions, nonetheless it may be safe to say that many of the motifs, even in Ecclesiastes, were anticipated in ancient Near Eastern texts and need not be ascribed to later Greek sources.4

One area, however, where Greek ideas and expressions have exercised a very patent and unmistakeable influence on the sapiential books is that of the Greek translations of Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. A number of studies on these and other books have been undertaken which, presupposing that the translators had a Hebrew text basically similar to the Masoretic Text, have compared the differences between M and LXX and have then formed conclusions as to the attitudes of the translator which may have led to these differences.5

Septuagintal Studies.

The comparison of the Septuagint with the Massoretic Text, however, is fraught with difficulties. There is first of all the lack of a definitive critical edition.6 Max Margolis recognized this problem and sought to do something about it: he worked for twenty years to produce a critical edition of the Greek version of Joshua!7

Today, thanks to the recovery of early texts of the LXX in the papyri8 and the manuscripts from Qumran, we are in a better position to reconstruct the parent LXX text. Among those from Qumran are: leather fragments of Leviticus and of Numbers, papyrus fragments of Leviticus, and a manuscript of the Minor Prophets which represents a “lost” recension of the Septuagint—the old Greek version of the third-second centuries B.C.9 In addition to the Greek m...

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