What is it about?

For the last 150 years, it has been thought that the five books of the LXX Pentateuch were done by five different translators. The arguments in favour of this thesis are dubious. E.g., it is said, "LXX Genesis and LXX Exodus feature differring statistics of certain phenomena. That makes it plausible that both books were translated by different persons." This view treats LXX Genesis as a monolith. On closer inspection, the approach of the LXX Genesis translator is evolving throughout the book. Roughly said, he becomes freer in his approach, to such an extent that in the last Genesis chapters his approach flows seamlessly into that of the initial chapters of LXX Exodus. It is probable - against the current consensus in Septuagint scholarship - that both books were done by the same translator / translation team.

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Why is it important?

* The notion that the five books of the Torah/Pentateuch were translated into Greek by five different individuals (known as the "multiple authorship hypothesis") is built on shaky assumptions, and should be reconsidered. * The "differences" found between the LXX Pentateuchal books merit fresh research. * The idea of fluctuations in a single translator's approach leads to a less monolithic evaluation of text-critical evidence of Greek manuscripts, which is potentially relevant for Hebrew textual criticism.


Looking into the multiple authorship hypothesis was fascinating and disconcerting at the same time. I had no idea that such an entrenched hypothesis was being passed on from handbook to handbook on the basis of arguments so few and so weak. We need more research into such "myths" of Septuagint studies.

Dr Theo van der Louw
Summer Institute of Linguistics

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Unity of LXX Genesis and Exodus, Vetus Testamentum, September 2019, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/15685330-12341393.
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