Monday, May 14, 2007

Review of the New Edition of Rahfls

Septuaginta: edition altera. Edited by Alfred Rahlfs and Robert Hanhart (Stuttgart: Deutsche Biblegesellschaft, 2006).

Available in the UK from Albans Books

One of the standard and most accessible editions of the Septuagint has been Alfred Rahlfs' Septuaginta. I was overjoyed when, some years ago, I was given a copy of the massive two volume hard back edition which served me well in my doctoral studies. It was using Rahlfs’ book in conjunction with studies of the OT in the NT that led me to ponder why on earth Christian colleges and seminaries fail to teach Septuagint studies when the Septuagint was largely the Bible of the early church, but that hobby horse is for another day.

The current edition is not a rewrite of Rahlfs’ text, but new textual discoveries have come to light and there have been significant changes in the science of textual criticism since Rahlfs first compiled his edition. However, in light of the forthcoming editio maior of the Septuagint by the Göttingen Academy of Humanities and Sciences it would be pointless to completely revamp Rahlfs’ edition. The revision of Hanhart is far more modest and includes (1) removing errors and misprints; (2) making several cosmetic changes to the text concerning accentuation, a correction to a perfect participle in Isa 5.17, and a conjectural emmandation in Isa 53.2; and (3) concerning the critical apparatus Hanhart eliminates several mistakes arising from comparison with the Göttingen edition, corrections to misleading simplifications of the textual transmission, and the inclusion of the uncials Q, C, and V and the recensions O and L with variants where Rahlfs only mentioned B, S, or A.

This revised ‘pocket-edition’ (I use that term very loosely given its size and weight) remains true to Rahlfs’ purpose: ‘The aim of this work is to provide ministers and students with a reliable edition of the Septuagint at a moderate price, and thus to supply an important companion and aid to the study not only of the Old Testament, but also of the New Testament’. While Rahlfs’ text is available in electronic form (e.g. Bible Works) there is still no substitute for having a good and updated critical apparatus as well. Those serious about biblical study or are interested in how the NT interprets the OT, should consider getting one.


Peter Gurry said...

So, as I understand it, the revised Rahlfs has been re-typeset and the apparatus has been updated?

Kent said...

Logos Bible Software has begun working on the Göttingen LXX. This version will be morphologically tagged, and the apparati will be linked directly to the primary sources.

I thought you might be interested!

Göttingen Septuagint