The Septuagint and Its Ancient Versions

Project Details


The Septuagint is the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. In order to use the Septuagint in modern research, its original text
for each book must be reconstructed word by word. The pro-posed project is part of the long tradition of Septuagint research in the
University of Helsinki. More specifically, it relates directly to the project for a critical edition of the Septuagint of 2 Samuel for the
Göttingen Academy of Sciences with the PI as the responsible editor. The edition project is a necessary prerequisite for the currently
proposed project. In turn, the new project will contribute significantly to the edition project.
The objective is to determine the text-critical value of three ancient versions, the Sahidic Coptic, the Ethiopic, and the Old Latin, for the
Septuagint of 2 Samuel. The research material is formed by text editions and manuscripts of the ancient versions as well as the various
Hebrew and Greek texts for 2 Samuel. The data will be integrated into a database that already contains all the Greek textual data for 2
Samuel. The database will form a basis for an Open Access online edition of the Greek 2 Samuel with the data from the important
ancient versions.
The project uses a “diagnostic approach” developed by the PI as a theoretical framework for the text-historical study. The approach
aims at defining tangible criteria (“symptoms”) for recognizing the reasons for secondariness (“conditions”).
The project will employ two postdoctoral researchers, both for ca. three years. They will both publish 3–4 peer-reviewed articles (in
Green Open Access journals, if possible). The project will advance their career by providing them the means to carry out a postdoctoral
study and to apply for a Title of Docent. The postdoctoral researchers will both make research visits to the most relevant universities in
the field of the Septuagint studies: Göttingen, Oxford, and Madrid. There will be extensive co-operation with other researchers and
related projects, such as the Digital Edition of the Coptic Old Testament in Göttingen and the Vetus Latina project in Beuron.

Layman's description

The Septuagint is the ancient Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. The project is related to the production of a critical edition of the
Greek Second Book of Samuel for the Göttingen Academy of Sciences Septuagint edition series.
The complexity of the textual history and the great deal of variation between the manuscripts of the Septuagint require reconstructing its
original text word by word. Often readings from ancient translations of the Septuagint can help to determine what has caused the textual
variation. The project involves text-historical research on three such ancient translations: the Sahidic (a dialect of Coptic), the Ethiopic,
and the Old Latin.
The huge cultural impact of the Bible justifies the quest for its original wording. A critical edition of the Septuagint is a prerequisite for
using it in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible.
Effective start/end date01/09/201931/08/2023

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology
  • Septuagint