Michael Law has posted a short, but significant piece on Jerome’s use of Aquila as a source of the Vulgate. In this field, there are few scholars who post on these significant matters, so I thought I would draw more attention to it. Thanks for sharing, Michael!
I have been thinking about ways in which the Three (Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion) provide an extra layer of Jewish Greek background for the study of the New Testament. There may not be direct influence of the Three on the NT authors, although, if Theodotion is first century, then his influence may be more direct than the others. What may be more plausible to claim is that the Jewish readings, which find their culmination in the Three, may have influenced the NT authors. The following is one example.
In 1 Cor. 15:54 Paul cites a version of Isaiah 25:8a: κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος, but it is not the LXX. The LXX reads: κατέπιεν ὁ θάνατος ἰσχύσας, which is not a very close translation of the Hebrew. Paul’s citation, therefore, is not from the LXX. Is this an ad hoc rendering of the Hebrew Bible on Paul’s part? I think not, for Paul’s text aligns with what we now know to be Theodotion’s version. Theodotion read the Hebrew verb (vocalized as a Piel in the MT) as a Pual (was swallowed) and he translated לָנֶצַח (“forever” in biblical Hebrew) with εἰς νῖκος (“in victory”; cp. Job 36:7 et al). For the latter translation, Theodotion has read the Hebrew with the Aramaic meaning “victory” as he does in many places. There is great discussion about the dating of Theodotion. I am persuaded that he worked in the first century, despite some patristic testimony which places him at the end of the second century. His translation technique fits the typology of translation/revision activity during 1 BC- AD 1. Also, Jerome comments that he lived after the time of Jesus, which may place him earlier than other testimonies. Furthermore, how do these texts, which are attributed to him, find their way into the NT, if he did not live at this time? Some want to posit Ur-Theodotion or Proto-Theodotion. It is time to place a moratorium on these categorizations and work within a context of historical Theodotion in the first century.
Back to Paul. The word “victory” is rhetorically important for Paul here, since he is talking about Jesus’ victory over death in the resurrection and therefore the church’s victory through Jesus Christ. The Hebrew Bible and LXX also have generally mean YHWH’s victory, but they are not as clear as the Theodotion version. Paul’s choice of this text is deliberate, for it uses the catch word νῖκος, which in turn becomes the ultimate meaning of the resurrection: victory over death. In this case, the doctrine of the NT has benefited from the revision of the LXX accomplished by Theodotion. Hopefully, in weeks to come I will be commenting on a couple of other cases, which are not as clear as this one, but which may still be important for this topic.
I have been thinking about the whole matter of Septuagintalisms in the NT, and in Sunday School we are studying Ephesians. Basically, my thesis is that in Ephesians 1:6, Paul uses ὁ ἠγαπημένος, “the Beloved,” a term to describe Israel in the Hebrew Bible and even more clearly in the LXX, to echo or signal to the readers that Christ is the New Israel and consequently the Gentile believers are the New Israel since they have been chosen in him. The post concludes by returning to the question of whether ὁ ἠγαπημένος is a Septuagintalism or whether the LXX is the primary influence on Paul in this case.
The Context of Ephesians 1:6
The text says:
Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,
ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ,
4 καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ,
5 προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ,
6 εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ.
The church was blessed in Christ, chosen in Him, predestined through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace which he gave us in the Beloved.
In Greek, the discourse resumes with relative clauses down to the end of verse 14, which perhaps marks 3-6 as a unit, which is the paragraph scheme used in the NA 27. Within this unit, it is clear that the expressions ἐν Χριστῷ and ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ are in parallel with each other, since the former is at the end of the first line indicating the location of all the spiritual blessings, while the latter is at the end of the final line indicating the location of the glorious grace given to us. The intervening lines use pronouns referring back to the first line and treat the topics of election and predestination. We will return to the significance of this parallelism later.
The latter term τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ is a PfPPtc DMS from ἀγαπάω, and it is used as a substantive with the meaning “the one having been loved” or “the beloved.” In Greek there are at least two other ways of communicating this concept: 1)use of the -τος adjective αγαπητος, which of course is how Paul addresses Christians in a number of places (e.g. Eph. 5:1 “beloved children”; 6:21) and how Matthew describes Jesus at his baptism and his transfiguration (This is my beloved Son; Matt. 3:17; 17:5); 2) the use of a simple relative clause with an active verb (e.g. “the son, whom he loved” cp. Is 3:25).
The PfPPtc is used in two ways in the LXX: 1) places where it renders Hebrew words for “love” or “beloved” including references to Israel and references to individuals in Israel’s history, and 2) places where it renders Hebrew Yeshurun, which is an unexpected translation as we shall see.
References to Israel
II Suppl (Chr) 20:7 – καὶ ἔδωκας αὐτὴν σπέρματι Αβρααμ τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ σου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. The participle modifies either the seed of Abraham or Abraham himself (i.e. Israel or Abraham)
Judith 9:4 – a reference to υἱων ἠγαπημένων ὑπὸ σοῦ: sons beloved by you (the LORD)
Hosea 2:23(25) – The variant to the OG equals Rom 9:25 (see Ziegler’s Edition)
Isaiah 5:1 – a clear reference to Israel as beloved
Isaiah 5:7 – “the man of Judah is a beloved young plant”
Jeremiah 12:7 – God gives my beloved soul into the hands of her enemies
Baruch 3:37 – Israel who was beloved by him (God)
III Macc 6:11 – the beloved as a reference to the Jews
References to individuals
Deut 21:15-16 – in reference to a beloved wife in contrast to a hated one in case law
Deut 33:12 – Tribe of Benjamin
II Reigns (II Samuel) 1:23 – Saul and Jonathan are called beloved
2 Esdras 23:26 (Neh 13:26) – Solomon is called “beloved to God.”
Sirach 24:11 – reference to the beloved city in the A line and Jerusalem is the city mentioned in the B line.
Sirach 45:1 – a reference to Moses as beloved by God and men
Sirach 46:13 – a reference to Samuel as beloved by the LORD
LXX Da 3:35 – Abraham beloved by you (God)
It is clear that this participle refers either to Israel or to individuals in both canonical and deutero-canonical works. In all of the canonical examples, the Greek word is rendering the following Hebrew words: yadid, yadiduth, ‘ahab, sha’ashu’im, which means the Greek translations were predictable in these instances and cannot be used to establish theologizing on the part of the translators, since it is difficult to discern what is the theology of the Hebrew Bible and what is the theology of the translators. These references, however, are not the only relevant ones in our corpus. The LXX translators also translated Yeshurun with this participle.
References to Yeshurun as Beloved by the LXX Translators
וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט שָׁמַנְתָּ עָבִיתָ כָּשִׂיתָ וַיִּטֹּשׁ אֱלֹוהַ עָשָׂהוּ וַיְנַבֵּל צוּר יְשֻׁעָתֹו׃
καὶ ἔφαγεν Ιακωβ καὶ ἐνεπλήσθη, καὶ ἀπελάκτισεν ὁ ἠγαπημένος, ἐλιπάνθη, ἐπαχύνθη, ἐπλατύνθη· καὶ ἐγκατέλιπεν θεὸν τὸν ποιήσαντα αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπέστη ἀπὸ θεοῦ σωτῆρος αὐτοῦ.
Deut 33:5, 26
וַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶלֶךְ בְּהִתְאַסֵּף רָאשֵׁי עָם יַחַד שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ ἄρχων συναχθέντων ἀρχόντων λαῶν ἅμα φυλαῖς Ισραηλ.
אֵין כָּאֵל יְשֻׁרוּן רֹכֵב שָׁמַיִם בְעֶזְרֶךָ וּבְגַאֲוָתֹו שְׁחָקִים׃
Οὐκ ἔστιν ὥσπερ ὁ θεὸς τοῦ ἠγαπημένου· ὁ ἐπιβαίνων ἐπὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν βοηθός σου καὶ ὁ μεγαλοπρεπὴς τοῦ στερεώματος.
כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה עֹשֶׂךָ וְיֹצֶרְךָ מִבֶּטֶן יַעְזְרֶךָּ אַל־תִּירָא עַבְדִּי יַעֲקֹב וִישֻׁרוּן בָּחַרְתִּי בֹו׃
οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας σε καὶ ὁ πλάσας σε ἐκ κοιλίας Ἔτι βοηθηθήσῃ, μὴ φοβοῦ, παῖς μου Ιακωβ καὶ ὁ ἠγαπημένος Ισραηλ, ὃν ἐξελεξάμην·
A few comments are in order. First, the translation of the LXX is not a straightforward “literal” translation of Yeshurun as the work of the Three Jewish Revisers shows in Deut. 32:15 (α΄ εύθύτατος “very straight”; σ΄θ΄ ὁ εὐθής “the straight one” (cp. τῳ εύθει in Deut. 33:5); contrast ο΄ ὁ ἠγαπημένος). Second, there is no possibility of scribal error in this situation, and thus the translators seem to diverge from the plain sense of their Vorlage for theologizing purposes. Their contextual rendering of the proper name still maintains the title of honor for Israel, but it focuses on God’s love for them in election (Deut 7:8 et al.). Third, the Isaiah translator is probably dependent on the work of the Deut. translator, who preceded him. LXX-Is also provides a doublet for Yeshurun when he translates it ὁ ἠγαπημένος Ισραηλ, “The Beloved Israel.” It is also important to note the theme of the election of Israel (Jacob) (ἐκλεγομαι) in Isaiah 44:1-4, which is also present in Ephesians 1:3-6.
Paul’s Use of the LXX in Ephesians 1:3-6
This analysis leads to the following conclusions in Ephesians.
1) ὁ ἠγαπημένος is used of both individuals in Israel’s history and of Israel herself. Since Deut translates Yeshurun (a title for Israel) with this form, it cannot be dismissed that this book begins the pattern for the following books, both canonical and deutero-canonical that refer to Israel as God’s Beloved. In fact Deut most probably does set the trajectory. As was noted earlier, LXX-Is combined Beloved and Election of Israel together and Paul seems to be influenced by this connection.
2) Paul is capitalizing on the term’s original meaning in the LXX. The term refers corporately to Israel and to individuals within Israel. Paul places it in parallelism with ἐν Χριστῳ in Eph 1:3, indicating that it refers to an individual and the family of the Messiah. Primarily, via the parallelism Paul communicates that Christ is the Beloved or the New Israel. Also, the terms Χριστω and ηγαπημενος are used as incorporating (ἐν) terms. Regarding the former, N.T. Wright says, “I suggest, in other words, that Paul uses ‘Christ’ here as a shorthand way of referring to that unity and completeness, and mutual participation, which belongs to the church that is found ‘in Christ’, that is, in fact, the people of the Messiah” (Climax of the Covenant, 54; cf. 46).
3) Regarding the latter, the term was originally intended to be a title for God’s people or individual Israelites, and it denoted God’s love for them, but now Paul applies it to Jesus. This conclusion, of course, is consonant with Matthew in 3:17 and 17:5, where Jesus is called “my beloved Son.” Matthew has already made clear that Jesus is the new Israel on a new exodus from his use of the OT in chapter 2 (e.g. “Out of Egypt I have called my Son.”).
4) Εν Χριστω and εν τω ηγαπημενω, therefore, denote the people of God or the New Israel incorporated into Christ. Frank Thielman concludes, “It seems likely, therefore, that when Paul calls Jesus, “the Beloved” in this passage he has in mind Jesus’s embodiment within himself of the beloved and elect people of God” (2010; 54).
What is astounding about this observation, of course, is the overall context. Paul is commenting on the status of Gentile churches and he is saying that they are elect in Christ, that is, incorporated into the people of God, for whom the Messiah stands. By being incorporated into Christ, the Gentiles have become members of the people of God. In Christ, Israel’s history has become ours. We have truly been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Gen 12:1-3?) through identification with the people of God, who is Christ.
Returning to the original question of whether τω ηγαπημενω constitutes a Septuagintalism, it is too difficult to know whether Paul has in mind specifically the Yeshurun texts,which would almost certainly indicate that it is, but that is not the present concern. The question is whether the LXX is the fundamental contextual influence on Paul in this text and others. The Hebrew Bible certainly preserves Israel as the beloved, but clearly the LXX (280 BC and post) in both the canonical and deutero-canonical books went beyond the Hebrew Bible in at least four cases surveyed in this post. I want to suggest that this example cannot be used as a foundational piece of evidence for Paul’s use of the LXX, but it may be a corroborative piece of evidence to a larger portfolio of Paul’s use of the OT. The LXX provides a bridge from Hebrew OT to the NT in this case, since Paul’s argument may firmly stand on the Hebrew Bible and be further strengthened by appealing to the Greek OT.
I have not posted on the LXX in a while, but I wanted to draw attention to a problem at which I had to look for my dissertation on the Hexapla of Job and show how this work is relevant to modern translations of the Bible.
A sampling of modern translations of this verse is insightful. For example, the ESV says, “From out of the city the dying groan”. The word of interest is “the dying”, and it is also the translation of the NIV. Interestingly, the KJV(!), HCSB, and the NASB have “men” in their translation. So what is happening beneath the surface?
Here is a listing of the MT and the Versions:
MT: מֵ֘עִ֤יר מְתִ֨ים׀ יִנְאָ֗קוּ
LXX: οἳ ἐκ πόλεως καὶ οἴκων ἰδίων ἐξεβάλλοντο
Sym: ἐκ πόλεως ἄνδρας ἐποίησαν στενάξαι (retroverted from Syh .ܣ. ܡܢ ܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܠܓܒܪ̈ܐ ܥܒ̣ܕܘ ܠܡܬܬ̣ܢܚܘ ܀)
Th: ἐκ πόλεως ἄνδρες κεκράξονται (retroverted from Syh ܬ. ܡܢ ܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܓܒܪ̈ܐ ܢܩ̣ܥܘܢ܀)
Vulgate: de civitatibus fecerunt viros gemere
Pesh:ܡܢ ܓܘ ܩܪܝܬܐ ܡ̈ܝܬܐ ܢܬܐܢܩܘܢ
A few observations are in order. First, the consonantal text of M may be pointed to mean “men” or “the dying”, but the vocalization of M clearly indicates that the former is in view. Now, a modern scholar may dispute this vocalization and claim that M’s vocalization was a relatively new invention; however, this vocalized reading is very old, if not the original reading, since it is also the reading of Theodotion, Symmachus and Jerome’s Vulgate. The LXX does not have either of these readings, but the translator seemed to understand people who are alive, not dead, but this version cannot always be trusted for this type of information in the book of Job. Second, the Pesh certainly has “the dead” or “the dying”. Third, and on a more pedantic note, Jerome seems to have used Symmachus for his translation, since we know he used Sym from time to time and these versions are the only two interpreting the Hebrew verb as a causative “from the city they made/caused men to groan”, when in fact the word is not causative. Thus, the Hexapla actually preserves the earliest evidence of the reading of the Hebrew Bible in this verse.
Now, let me highlight the problem of the ESV, which is the version I use most regularly and I find it to be a good translation overall. The translation, “the dying”, is put into the text without any explanation. As far as the reader knows, this translation is a faithful rendering of the Hebrew text. The problem, however, is that it is a faithful rendering of the Syriac Peshitta and perhaps one other insignificant Hebrew ms., and the English translator did not note the other Versions and witnesses to the text in this instance. What should have happened in this case?
The translator probably should have maintained the principles of the ESV and translated the Hebrew text (codex L) faithfully, and if he disagreed with the reading, he should have put all of the evidence in a footnote below the text. Or he could have put “the dying” in the text and left a footnote indicating that the reading of the Hebrew and the rest of the Versions is “men”.
The reader of the ESV wants to know what the original Hebrew text says, nothing more or less. In Job 24:12a, M and the oldest Versions have preserved the original vocalization. The text should say “From the city, men will groan.”
Jerome writes to Augustine concerning the nature of the Septuagint of the 4th century (i.e. after Origen’s Hexapla) as follows:
Because, however, in other letters you ask, why my former translation has asterisks and obelisks noted in the canonical books, and afterwards I published another translation without them –I say with your pardon— you do not seem to me to understand, because you have inquired (about them). For this first translation is from the seventy translators and, wherever the marks are, that is the obelisks, it is shown, that the Seventy said more than is contained in the Hebrew; however, where there are asterisks, that is stars which light the way, the reading was added by Origen from the version of Theodotion. And in that (former) translation we translated from the Greek, in this place from the Hebrew itself, we expressed what we were understanding, preserving more importantly the truth of the sense than the order of the words now and then. And I am amazed how you do not read the books of the Seventy in their pure form, as they were published by the Seventy, but rather as emended (emendatos) by Origen or rather corrupted by the obelisks and asterisks, and you do not follow the translation of a Christian man, especially when he (Origen) transferred these additions, which have been added from the edition of a man, a Jew and a blasphemer, after the Passion of Christ. Do you wish to be a true friend of the Septuagint? You should not read these (additions), which are under the asterisks; on the contrary, erase/scrape them from the chapters, so that you might show yourself to be a true patron. If you do this, you will be forced to condemn all the libraries of the churches. For scarcely one or another manuscript/book will be discovered, which has not such additions.
Epistula CXII, 19 Ad Augustinum
However, Aquila, a proselyte and contentious translator, who has attempted to translate not only words (uerba) but also the etymologies (etymologias) of the words (uerborum), is rightly rejected (proicitur) by us. For who is able to read and to understand χευμα (that which is poured), οπωρισμον (vintage), στιλπνοτητα (brightness) [words from Deut 7:13], for grain and wine and oil [Deut. 7:13], in so far as we are able to read “pouring” (fusionem) and “harvesting of fruit” (pomationem) and “shining,” (splendentiam)? Or because the Hebrews not only have αρθρα (connecting word, the article), but also προαρθρα (prefixes), so that he κακοζηλως (in bad style) may interpret both syllables and letters and he may say συν τον ουρανον και συν την γην [Gen. 1:1; Aquila renders the marker of the direct object in Hebrew with συν, even though this rendering has no acceptance in Greek or Latin], which no Greek and Latin dialect accepts? We are able to take his precedent of the matter from our discussion. For how many words are spoken well among the Greeks, which, if we translate according to the word, do not resound in Latin, and from a region, where they are pleasing among us, if equally the words are altered with respect to the arrangement, then among the Greeks they will displease.
Epistula LVII, 11
It has been a while since I have posted anything on this site, but here is a snippet from some of the material I have been reading for hexaplaric research.
Regarding translation technique Jerome says:
For I not only admit, but I declare freely that I express not word for word (uerbum e uerbo) but sense for sense (sensum de sensu) in translating from the Greek (except from the holy scriptures, where even the order of the words is a mystery.)
Ad Pammachium de optimo genere interpretandi Epistula LVII, 5
I put off a solution even of such a little question, so that my critics may question and understand that the words (uerba) of scripture must not be examined (consideranda), but the sense (sensum).
Ad Pammachium de optimo genere interpretandi Epistula LVII, 10