Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Show me your Bible

Where can we find the official Bible of the Eastern Orthodox church?

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The fact that there are variations of the translations of the Bible indicates most clearly the need for a common edition of the Greek New Testament on which other translations will depend.

The text of the Patriarchate was prepared by a commission in 1904, which also has approximately 2,000 variations compared to the Common Edition, Textus Receptus, prepared much earlier. Despite these efforts there is still no one common edition of the New Testament Greek accepted by all. It must be recognized, though, that the edition issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople depended mainly upon the passages and verses designated by the Church to be read during the celebrations on Sundays and feast days, For this reason these passages were kept intact with fewer changes. It is evident that greater efforts involving all the Christian churches must be made to arrive at one common edition in the original language recognized by all Christians.

The Eastern Orthodox Church officially uses the Septuagint-Old Testament Greek which was translated from the original Hebrew language into Greek in the third century B.C.

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7068.asp

THE SEPTUAGINT, derived from the Latin word for "seventy," can be a confusing term, since it ideally refers to the third-century BCE translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt. There is a complicated story, however, behind the translation and the various stages, amplifications, and modifications to the collection we now call the Septuagint.

In the third century, the great Christian scholar, Origen (184/85–254/55), keenly interested in the textual differences between the Hebrew and the Greek, set out to arrange the Church's Old Testament in six columns: (1) the Hebrew, (2) a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew, (3) Aquila's translation, (4) Symmachus's translation, (5) the Septuagint (LXX), and (6) Theodotion. The volumes were compiled in Caesarea, probably between 230 and 240 CE, a project funded by Origen's patron. The resultant work, the Hexapla, was massive, and has for the most part perished, probably due to cost and labor of transcribing all 3600 folios for posterity. Origen was a very careful scholar, but he did not observe modern editorial conventions. He composed his version of the LXX from several different manuscripts and preferred readings that brought the text into conformity with the Hebrew. Thus, this fifth LXX column, while establishing the first "standardized text" of the Christian Church, created problems for modern scholars who would seek to recover a pre-Christian version of the LXX.

Further rescensions of the Greek text in the fourth century are attested. Hesychius (fl. 3/4th c.) is said to have created a rescension for the Church in Egypt; Lucian (d. 312 CE), in Antioch. Some scholars posit other rescensions from this period. Thus, we find some Greek Church Fathers quoting the same Old Testament texts, but in very different forms. There is no indication, however, that this troubled to Church leadership. The insistence on letter-for-letter, word-for-word accuracy in the Scriptures was a feature that was not to emerge in Christian thought for many centuries, and then in imitation of Jewish and Islamic models. As far as most early Christians were concerned, any Greek version of the Old Testament read in the Church merited the term Septuagint.

Wherever Christianity spread, translations of the Hebrew Scriptures were made based on the LXX. Thus, it became the basis for translations made into Arabic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Old Latin, Coptic, Georgian, and Old Church Slavonic. (It was not the basis either for the Syriac version [known as the Peshitta], which is a pre-Christian translation based directly upon the Hebrew, or for St. Jerome's Latin translation, which is also based on the Hebrew.)

Modern scholars, sifting through this very interesting and eventful history, have attempted to create editions of the Septuagint that reflect as early a text as possible. Rahlfs's edition of the LXX (1935) is semi-critical, utilizing what he believed to be the chief manuscripts. Brooke, McLean, and Thackeray's partial edition (1906–40) sought a more critical approach. The Göttingen edition of the LXX (1931–), now mostly complete, is the most critical edition of the LXX, taking into account over 120 manuscripts, many languages, and a multitude of patristic quotations. Modern Biblical scholars have accepted the Göttingen as the standard working edition, although the ease and accessibility of Rahlfs's edition has made it popular less exacting work and study. It is important to bear in mind that all these editions are eclectic, and reasonable attempts to reconstruct the earliest version of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Thus, the term Septuagint could refer to any one or more of the states of the Greek translation throughout history. It is important to understand specifically what is meant in any given discussion of the LXX. A strict, purist use of Septuagint would allow the term to be used only of the earliest, (probably) unrecoverable translation of the Pentateuch made by the Jewish scholars around 282 BCE (some refer to this as the "Old Greek," but with some confusion, since the assignment of this term forces Septuagint to be applied to texts with no direct connection to the legend of the seventy-two).

http://www.kalvesmaki.com/LXX/

The LXX is in some sense the "official" Orthodox Old Testament, but from the time of Origen's Hexapla until recently there seems to have been little effort to actually publish a standardized version. Ancient manuscripts and fragments differ so much from each other and from the readings in the Church's lectionary that this is something of a problem. The first "official" (hierarchically approved) printed editions, which appeared in Russia and later in Greece in the XIX Century, were essentially reprints of Western scholarly texts based on the Codex Alexandrinus and other ancient manuscripts rather than on the liturgical practice of the Church. Even now, it is not clear to us that there is a universally accepted Orthodox version based on liturgical usage.

http://www.voskrese.info/spl/Xlxx.html

19 comments:

  1. Since everything mentioning Orthodoxy lately seems to be an effort to bait me, I assume I am meant to be baited, but I don't know how.

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  2. Guys, this just in...Jerry Falwell is now a Calvinist! Sorry for the subject being off topic...

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  3. And since we're off topic, is Evan May really 17 yrs old like his profile says?

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  4. In the spirit of being off topic, consider this quote about Steve Hays on ReformedCatholicism.com by somebody names Josh S.,

    "In the blog world, it’s easy to get sucked into fruitless discussions where you fire off post after long post in response to someone who is about as responsive as a wall. It’s stressful and doesn’t produce any results. In other words, it’s a huge waste of time. Steve Hays gets sucked into this all the time. He responds to the most foolish crap going line-by-line, picking apart every word of some atheist heckler, undoubtedly spending hours doing so. And what’s it accomplish? Absolutely nothing."

    So, what do you think Steve? Spending too much time responding to atheist hecklers?

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  5. Concerned,

    It ennobles and edifies ME when Steve does that. He has no obligation to do so, of course, but I certainly appreciate it.

    Also, I didn't realise that Eastern Orthodox people fall under the category of "atheist hecklers." I'll bet it takes up a fair amount of time finding off-topic comments and dealing w/ those...

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  6. Rhology,

    I wasn't referring to this Orthodox fellow as an atheist heckler, that's why the comments were "off topic".

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  7. Concerned, I can't answer for Steve, but that strikes me as a classic example of mirror-reading. Would they prefer Steve deconstruct what they say at rC.com? Would that have any results? No, it never has in the past. They've been as responsive as a wall. Ergo, the poster is mirror-reading.

    And, for the record, I know that Steve, as well as most of us here, don't write exclusively for the benefits of the "atheist hecklers" or whoever else with whom we interact directly. Rather, we are conscious that others read our writing. Speaking for my own mailbox, to which the writers at rC.com are by no means privy, I do know that there are, in point of fact, positive results that arise from these interactions.

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  8. Lest anyone misread me, I mostly found those comments amusing....although there is some merit to drawing a line when responding to angry teenage God haters who have read a couple of philosophy books and maybe 3 or 4 chapters in Genesis...

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  9. Evan Maybe said:
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    And since we're off topic, is Evan May really 17 yrs old like his profile says?
    ---

    Well, that depends. EvanMay 1.0 was programmed March 4, 1990. However, after EvanMay 7.9 burned out his CPU, we upgraded him to a Cray XT4 at the end of April. Unfortunately, all he says now is "42." We think there is some numerological significance to this--perhaps the number of years left until Global Warming destroys Guam. But it may also be the average IQ of the opponents EvanMay 8.0 has had to face so far.

    Only time will tell.

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  10. Peter,

    I hadn't realized he has undergone this kind of total make-over. I guess that explains why we haven't heard from him in a while. Thanks for the update...

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  11. Don't things get weird around here every so often?

    :-)

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  12. Evan May Not!5/15/2007 4:59 PM

    Peter is actually covering for Evan, who is really a secret robotic spy agent for the evil Dr. Sanjay Patel Loftus. Nice try Peter, but Evan's cover has been blown...

    This message will now self-destruct (kind of like naturalism).

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  13. You have to keep in mind that when Dr. Soong originally designed the technical schematics for EvanMay, there were certain anomalies in his positronic matrix which resulted in a Lore-like demeanor. For this reason, EvanMay 1.0 had to be decommissioned.

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  14. Evan May Not Return5/15/2007 5:11 PM

    I don't know what you said there Steve, but it sure sounds painful...

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  15. Anonymous said:
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    Don't things get weird around here every so often?
    ---

    There's only so much you can take from Orthodox or Touchstone before you either do a sarcastic piece or risk becoming as irrational as they are.... :-)

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  16. You have to keep in mind that when Dr. Soong originally designed the technical schematics for EvanMay, there were certain anomalies in his positronic matrix which resulted in a Lore-like demeanor. For this reason, EvanMay 1.0 had to be decommissioned.

    >>This is true, but I must say that, of all the soul's I have encountered in my travels, Evan's was the most...human.

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  17. Anonymous said: Don't things get weird around here every so often?

    Indeed, the T-blog combox is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get!

    Although with Touchstone and Orthodox, it's the stale kind of chocolate that'll give you indigestion -- or, God forbid, food poisoning -- if you consume it.

    Steve said: You have to keep in mind that when Dr. Soong originally designed the technical schematics for EvanMay, there were certain anomalies in his positronic matrix which resulted in a Lore-like demeanor. For this reason, EvanMay 1.0 had to be decommissioned.

    EvanMay, "I...love...you...brother!" ;-)

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  18. GeneMBridges said:

    >>This is true, but I must say that, of all the soul's I have encountered in my travels, Evan's was the most...human.

    Well, if you'd known him before his emotion chip was installed, it would be a whole different story.

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  19. hostus twinkius5/16/2007 1:32 PM

    I'm waiting for the version of EvanMay that includes the DVD player. I think it comes out this summer...

    ReplyDelete