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A Few Helpful Resources on the Text of the Hebrew Bible/LXX

In my review of T. Michael Law’s book  When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible (see here), I posed a couple of questions that, in my humble opinion, would increase the value of the book as an introductory work. I have been asked what other resources I would recommend alongside Law’s book to provide a “fuller perspective.”

Again, these simply are my suggestions as a reader. Certainly one book cannot do everything, but I know what is helpful to me when I explore unfamiliar territory. The resources below are in relation to the specific points of my review. All but the fourth resource(s) are found in Law’s “Further Reading” section on pages 201-12, which itself is worth the cost of the book.

I confess at the outset that Law is the expert here. He is in a far better position to give book recommendations in Septuagint studies. Nonetheless, here are a few sources that may provide a more balanced perspective.

1. Robert Hanhart, “Introduction,” in The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon, by Martin Hengel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 1–17.

Comment: Interestingly, Hanhart presents a different perspective than Hengel on the problems in the history of the text of the LXX. In fact, it was for this divergent view that he was asked by Hengel to write the introduction. Though his remarks are brief, readers can hear another take on the problem.

2. Nora David et al., eds., The Hebrew Bible in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Forschungen Zur Religion Und Literatur Des Alten Und Neuen Testaments 239 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012).

Comment: Though a more technical work, this book consists of 4 parts assessing the impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls on the study of the Hebrew Bible. Part 1 is further subdivided into five essays labeled “General Studies” and four essays as “Case Studies.” The “General Studies” section represents two views: one emphasizing textual plurality in early Judaism, and the other articulating a greater degree of continuity with the later Masoretic Text. The existence of the volume is evidence that the conversation is slightly more nuanced than one may be led to believe by Law’s book.

3. Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders, eds., The Canon Debate (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002).

Comment: This book incorporates 32 essays addressing a range of issues in both Hebrew Bible and New Testament scholarship. While many contributors of “The Old/First Testament Canon” section would side with Law, I appreciate their attempt to clarify terms and concepts. Understanding what an author means by “canon” or “Bible,” even if one disagrees, opens the door to a clearer discussion.

4. Peter J. Gentry, “The Septuagint and the Text of the Old Testament,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 16, no. 2 (2006): 193–218. See also Peter J. Gentry, “The Text of the Old Testament,” JETS 52, no. 1 (March 2009): 19–45.

Comment: These two articles, written from an evangelical perspective, stand at the other end of the spectrum. Gentry is a specialist in the Septuagint, and here assesses the value of the LXX, as well as methodological considerations for its study.

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