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Download The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research epub

by R. Timothy McLay

Too often the Septuagint is misunderstood or, worse, ignored in New Testament studies. In this book R. Timothy McLay makes a sustained argument for the influence of the Greek Jewish Scriptures on the New Testament and offers basic principles for bridging the research gap between these two critical texts.McLay explains the use of the Septuagint in the New Testament by looking in depth at actual New Testament citations of the Jewish Scriptures. This work reveals the true extent of the Septuagint’s impact on the text and theology of the New Testament. Indeed, given the textual diversity that existed during the first century, the Jewish Scriptures as they were known, read, and interpreted in the Greek language provided the basis for much, if not most, of the interpretive context of the New Testament writers.Complete with English translations, a glossary of terms, an extensive bibliography, and helpful indexes, this book will give readers a new appreciation of the Septuagint as an important tool for interpreting the New Testament.
Download The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research epub
ISBN: 0802860915
ISBN13: 978-0802860910
Category: Bibles
Subcategory: Bible Study & Reference
Author: R. Timothy McLay
Language: English
Publisher: Eerdmans (July 19, 2003)
Pages: 221 pages
ePUB size: 1314 kb
FB2 size: 1623 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 822
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I cannot help but recall something that Timothy McLay wrote in the conclusion of his book: Studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls seem to "have cast a spell when it comes to understanding the background of the NT, while the LXX is too often ignored." Since I agreed with the sentiment of this, I looked forward to reading a book in which the author's intent was to show not only the use of the LXX in the NT but it's _influence_ as well. (Somewhere else I read an admonition to sell other books in order to buy a LXX. Was it Klein, 1987?)
However most of McLay's book is not about LXX influence but about translation problems which he calls Translation Technique and abbreviates as TT because of his frequency of use. This is not easy reading for someone who has no interest in problems of translation. I think many readers will agree that a quote of the OG is not a sufficient proof of a citation. By the middle of the book when McLay lays the foundation of his TT, many readers may be bewildered by McLay's assertions that TT is primarily synchronic, accounts for langue and parole, is structural, and takes the source language as a point of departure.
Only in a final chapter does McLay discuss use of the LXX in the NT. Here he concludes that the use of the LXX by the early church means that the LXX was recognized as Scripture, the LXX influenced the NT by giving it such terms as DOXA and KURIOS, the citation of the OG of Daniel 7.13 had an influence upon NT theology, etc. I think it is too bad that McLay did not spend more of his time on this type of subject matter rather than spending so much on problems of translation.
Awesome dicussion about Acts 15 and textual plurality!
Sorry I accidently order. Can return it to me? Thanks
McLay's book is a very important contribution to the literature on the Septuagint. The previous reviewer (Virgil Brown) complained that "most of McLay's book is not about LXX influence". Yet Brown fails to notice that the title of the book is not "The Influence of the LXX on the New Testament" but "The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research." The difference is subtle, but the point of the book is not to just explicate examples of New Testament quotations, allusions, and similarities to the LXX. The purpose of the book is to give a non-specialist the tools to detect how the LXX may be useful in understanding the New Testament (whether or not it directly influenced any particular NT passage). In this regard McLay succeeds very well.

The following is a summary of the book in terms of its chapters and content:


McLay does an excellent job of outlining his book and of explaining the issues that need to be addressed when approaching the LXX. First of all he makes clear a distinction between the term LXX, OG (Old Greek), and the JGS (Jewish Greek Scriptures), showing that what the Jews were using as Greek Scriptures were not always identical to either of these ancient translations. He also clarifies the difference between MT (Massoretic Text) and HB (Hebrew Bible), showing that the Hebrew texts used by Jews of the first century were not always identical to the MT. One must constantly keep this in mind when trying to determine if a NT writer had access to the LXX, another Greek text, or simply a different Hebrew text. McLay further points out that in the first century C.E. and before there was no canon per se. There were only various collections of books considered authoritative in different Jewish (and Christian) faith communities. Not only this, but there was no standard text, so whatever variants a particular community had was authoritative. This means that even those books that influence the NT and are also part of the LXX may have influenced the NT through other translations or other original Hebrew / Aramaic texts than what we have extant. Further complicating the matter is that new versions of the Greek were made subsequent to the writing of the NT books and it must be determined whether certain readings are actually from the original LXX translations or from later Greek translations: therefore textual criticism of the LXX is necessary before determining its influence on the NT (obviously you cannot say the LXX influenced the NT in such-and-such an instance unless you know what the LXX text says!). McLay then goes into the TT (Translation Technique) of the LXX translators. This is important because if we understand the TT of the translators we are in a better position to understand if the NT is using the LXX as "opposed to" or "in agreement with" a text similar to the MT. A "free" translation does not necessarily mean inaccuracy, nor does it imply a different Vorlage (parent text). Finally, with all this in place, McLay will attempt to show through extended argument how an understanding of the NT can be achieved through an understanding of these issues.

Chapter 1: The Use of Scripture in the New Testament

McLay first of all makes the caveat that understanding the use of scripture in the NT does not just include study of texts, but also an understanding of culture, ancient rabbinic norms for interpretation, etc. The purpose in his book is not to explain the culture, but to explain how we can recognize whether the NT is using a Vorlage that is like the MT, a different Vorlage or the OG (Old Greek). McLay does a great job at this by teaching the non-specialist how to identify specific indicators. He also suggests that while we can do productive work in this field, we clearly don't have all the sources that we'd like. This fact has been highlighted by the discovery of the DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls), which, in cases have shown agreement with the LXX as opposed to the MT. This proves that the MT is not the only witness to the HB and that the LXX should not be excluded from consideration when doing textual criticism of the HB. Another important issue McLay addresses is how the NT writers used scripture. Our understanding of whether the NT relies on the LXX or HB depends on how accurately the writers are quoting - how much liberty did they take with their texts? Finally, McLay concludes the chapter with a discussion of interpretive methods of the NT writers. The theological purpose and perspective of a given NT sometimes appear to be the source of the differences of NT quotations not just from any extant Hebrew text, but also from any Greek text.

Chapter 2: Identifying a Source as Greek or Hebrew

The title of this chapter is self-explanatory. It goes beyond how the NT used scriptures to what characteristics of the NT quotations can help us identify an underlying Greek or Hebrew text. Word choice and word order have something to do with it, but most importantly to find an underlying difference between the Hebrew and Greek texts one must know what the TT (Translation Technique) of a given translator is. Once one understands the TT, one can begin to see where the translation truly departs from MT. A generally literal translation that does not match the MT may have a different Vorlage. A generally dynamic translation does not necessarily have a different Vorlage nor is does it necessarily depart from the meaning of the MT. It is only through an analysis of meaning that a dynamic translation can be shown to depart either from the Vorlage or be dependent upon a different Vorlage. In the process of determining variations in translation technique, scholars often rely on broad statistics. McLay argues that these statistics can be misleading and must be used with care, since beneath seemingly random variations may be other patterns. McLay also suggests that because literal translations are default, since they take less work, TT should be analyzed in terms of how free the translation is rather than how slavish it is. We better understand an individual's TT if we know what idiosyncrasies distinguish him.

Chapter 3: A Model for TT

In his third chapter McLay describes the different elements that go into determining an author's TT. This includes analyzing the differences in morphology, lexicology, syntax, and idiom. Only after taking these concepts into account can one start to analyze the motivation behind certain changes. Some changes are not required by the difference in the languages, so one must ask what would motivate such a change. It is changes in meaning that are particularly significant for the purposes of studying the influence of the LXX on the NT.

Chapter 4: The Origin of the Septuagint and Its History

The most useful aspect of this chapter is the fact that it clarifies just how muddy the waters are that surround the issue of text and authority with regard to NT sources. The multiplicity of both Greek and Hebrew texts and the fact that the NT often references versions or Vorlagen that are no longer extant suggests that a) the ancients were not as concerned with a standard text as we tend to be and b) that when we investigate the effect of the LXX on the NT we are investigating a much larger group of texts that the NT relies upon beyond LXX and proto-MT. The LXX is not one of only two witnesses to the HB (MT being the other), but is one of many. It is also not just a corruption of the MT but an authentic (though sometimes unreliable) witness to the HB. In my opinion this chapter should probably have preceded the one on determining whether the NT relies on a Greek text or a Semitic original. McLay's seven step process for identifying the source of a text could then have been put at the end of Chapter 2 as well. One thing that McLay should have added to this chapter is a mention that early translations of the Septuagint into other languages help attest to the earliest text. Without these versions it would be almost impossible to do textual criticism on the LXX, since Origen's version of the LXX (altered towards the then current Hebrew text) in many ways replaced the original LXX.

Chapter 5: The Impact of the LXX on the NT

While the first half of chapter 5 is a summary of how what we've learned so far impacts how LXX studies can shed light on the NT, McLay proceeds in the second half to go through a sustained argument using such evidence. This, in my opinion was the most unconvincing portion of the book. It seems to me that McLay should have spent most of his time on definitive examples, but instead he uses mostly examples where the evidence could go either way.

Chapter 6: Summary, Conclusions, Prospects

The sixth chapter is very brief and consists of basically a summary and a lamentation that the LXX is too often ignored. While I agree that this is the case, he downplays the importance of the DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls) for even making LXX into the useful tool that it is. We cannot ignore the Greek as a witness to the Hebrew. For textual criticism as well as for the NT, the LXX may be useful, but only when we are cautious, since we should know how scant our evidence is.

On the whole I was very pleased with this book. It is worth the buy.