@MohrSiebeck’s Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint (HTLS)

logoMy favorite publisher has commissioned a new series on  the LXX called Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint (HTLS). No doubt this will be one worth getting, if you have a small fortune that is. Nevertheless, Mohr Siebeck publishes great resources, and no doubt this will be one of their best.

Historical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint (HTLS)
Edited by Eberhard Bons and Jan Joosten (Université de Strasbourg)

This large-scale collective and interdisciplinary project will aim to produce a new research tool: a multi-volume dictionary giving an article of between 2 and 10 pages (around 500 articles in all) for each important word or word group of the Septuagint. Filling an important gap in the fields of ancient philology and religious studies, the dictionary will be based on original research of the highest scientific level.

The dictionary will be published in English. The project will cover about a decade. The objective is to publish a first volume of 500 pages in 2014. At least three other volumes of the same size should follow over the years 2014-21.

Wider context

The Hebrew Bible has played an important part in the development of Western culture. However, its central ideas – such as monotheism, the demythologization of nature or the linearity of time – had to be taken out of the national and linguistic milieu in which they had developed if they were to to become fertile on a wider scale. They also needed to be rendered palatable to a mentality that had experienced the scientific, rationalist revolution prepared by the Greeks. The Septuagint – the oldest Greek translation of the Jewish Bible, produced over the third and second centuries BC – is the first important step in this process of acculturation.

During the last twenty years or so, the Septuagint has come out of the shadow of its Hebrew source. Historians of Judaism, linguists, and biblical scholars have come to view the Septuagint as a significant document in its own right. As the discoveries in Qumran have shown, the Hebrew source text of the Septuagint was not identical to the traditional text received by the synagogue (the Massoretic Text). Also, the translators appear to have taken a degree of liberty in interpreting the text. Dominique Barthélemy used the term ‘aggiornamento’: the Septuagint is a kind of update of the Jewish scriptures.

Several projects are aimed at producing annotated translations of the Septuagint: in France, La Bible d’Alexandrie, of which sixteen volumes have appeared to date; in the English-speaking world, the New English Translation of the Septuagint, published in 2007; and in Germany, Septuaginta Deutsch, published in 2009. A host of conferences and collaborative efforts enhances the interaction of these projects.

Further progress in the exploration of the Greek version can be obtained only by going into more depth. The rediscovery of the text as linear discourse is to be supplemented by research on the words of which it is composed: their roots in Greek and Hellenistic culture and their exploitation within the biblical language.


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