The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies Part I -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 112:448 (Oct 1955)
Article: The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies Part I
Author: Everett F. Harrison


The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies
Part I

Everett F. Harrison

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Harrison is Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California and an outstanding evangelical New Testament scholar.]

In these days when the study of Greek as an element in ministerial training is being viewed with waning enthusiasm in many quarters, being reduced from a required to an elective status in institution after institution, some courage is required to maintain that the scope of Greek studies not only should be retained but broadened. Yet this is our conviction. How many seminary graduates of our era have made the acquaintance with the Greek Fathers through the original texts? Fortunately this deficiency is compensated for to some degree where there are courses in early church history which go into the source materials. But in the case of the Septuagint nothing in the curriculum helps to overcome the lack of familiarity with the Old Testament in Greek.

First Translation of Old Testament

What Deissniann wrote years ago is worthy of repetition today. “The daughter belongs of right to the mother; the Greek Old and New Testaments form by their contents and by their fortunes an inseparable unity. The oldest manuscript Bibles that we possess are complete Bibles in Greek. But what history has joined together, doctrine has put asunder; the Greek Bible has been torn in halves. On the table of our theological students you will generally see the Hebrew Old Testament lying side by side with the Greek New Testament. It is one of the most painful deficiencies of Biblical study at

the present day that the reading of the Septuagint has been pushed into the background, while its exegesis has been scarcely begun.”1 The same writer holds out this inducement to the uninitiated: “A single hour lovingly devoted to the text of the Septuagint will further our exegetical knowledge of the Pauline Epistles more than a whole day spent over a commentary.”2 This was not theoretical with Deissmann, for he testified in another place, “In preparation on my first piece of work on the formula ‘in Christ Jesus’ I read rapidly through the whole Septuagint in order to establish the use in construction of the preposition ‘ἐν.’ (The English Concordance [Hatch and Redpath] fortunately had not then reached ε). I am indebted to this reading for great and continuous stimulus. For some years now there have been lectures and classes on the exegesis of the Septuagint held in the Theological Faculty at Berl...

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