Tag Archives: Septuagint

Reflecting on a Career Studying the Septuagint: An Interview With Anneli Aejmelaeus

1. What is your research about, in general terms?
My special area of research is the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, translated by Jews during the 3rd–1st centuries BCE in Alexandria. I am preparing the first critical edition of the Septuagint text of the First Book of Samuel (= First Kingdoms) for the series of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen. However, this work cannot be done without all the time having an eye on the text of the Hebrew Bible, as I need to reconstruct the kind of Hebrew text that was used by the translator and to survey the translation technique and the competence of the translator. Practically, I am doing textual criticism of the Greek and the Hebrew text of 1 Samuel at the same time. But this is the only way to proceed with the critical edition.

anneli_aejmelaeus_haastattelu2. Why particularly did you choose this direction for your career?
I was fortunate to be able to work already as a student in the research project of Professor Ilmari Soisalon-Soininen. He was the first one to do Septuagint research in Finland. He was interested in the syntax of the Greek language used by the translators, and his innovative methodological approach to this area of study was to do it from the angle of translation technique. My first area of study was the Greek translation of clauses introduced by certain Hebrew conjunctions (ו and כי) in the Septuagint. This was a very good introduction into philological work on the Septuagint. When I started as professor in Göttingen (1991), I broadened my scope to different areas of Septuagint research, and was then assigned to prepare the critical edition of 1 Samuel.

3. How would you describe the relevance of your work for society?
It is difficult to demonstrate the direct relevance of this kind of basic research for society. However, it participates—as a fundamental part of Biblical studies—in the task of educating people in matters concerning the Bible, i.e., its origins and contents, as well as a responsible way of reading it. Ultimately, it is a question of resisting fundamentalism and helping to discover the real values represented in the Bible.

4. Looking back at your years as a professor, what would you say you are most proud of?
I am proud of my students. I am happy that I have been able to pass on some of the know-how that I have received and learned myself. Project funding from the Academy of Finland has helped a great deal in this respect. I am also very proud of our Centre of Excellence, the excellent research produced in it, and the atmosphere of exchange and cooperation that we have among us.

5. Can you tell us a short story about something that happened to you during your career that amazed you?
When I started working on 1 Samuel, I did not expect to find what I found: so many deliberate changes in the Hebrew text and so many corrections according to the Hebrew text in the Greek, especially in Codex Vaticanus. It has amazed me that students who have been studying the texts with me have often been ready to see the changes in the text when I was still hesitating myself. On the other hand, it amazes me how slow the reception of new results and ideas is among the international scholarly community. At a conference in Madrid 2014, when I had been giving papers about my discoveries in the Septuagint text of 1 Samuel for already ten years, my colleagues, who had heard me speak several times about the same discoveries, asked me whether I really meant what I said. It had taken them ten years to understand what I said – not to speak of approving or discussing my discoveries with me.

6. Is there anything you’ve researched that you never thought you’d find yourself interested in?
Paleography is a new area for me that I needed to enter, because the only way to get hold of a newly discovered fragmentary Greek papyrus of 1 Samuel was to gather a group of young scholars and students to prepare the publication of this manuscript. It has been great fun to work with the group, and the publication of the papyrus is approaching completion. It is a remarkable papyrus, and I dare say, the publication will be worthy of it.

7. What are you working on at the moment?
I will be concentrating on the critical edition of the Septuagint of 1 Samuel as long as it takes to finish it. This long-term project will also produce a few other publications on the Hebrew as well as the Greek text of 1 Samuel. I will also continue as the vice-director of the Centre of Excellence “Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions.”

8. Is there anything you look forward to leaving behind when you retire?
 I look forward to finally being able to do what I should have been doing all the time as a professor, namely, research. It is really tragic that the life of an academic is today so hectic: so many things to do and so many deadlines, papers all over the world and preparing all of them for publication, meetings and administration, teaching and exams, etc. Although I have loved working with the students – and I will continue working with my doctoral students – I am happy to be able to leave behind the hectic and concentrate on the research projects that need to be finished.

Interview conducted by Helen Dixon.

Sisälle Septuagintaan -symposium (ke 28.9. – to 29.9.2016)

Ke 28.9. – to 29.9.2016 (Helsingin yliopiston päärakennuksessa)

Sisälle Septuagintaan -symposium on kaikille maailman ensimmäisestä raamatunkäännöksestä kiinnostuneille tarkoitettu kaksipäiväinen tapahtuma. Luvassa on ajankohtaista tietoa Septuagintan kielestä, tutkimuksesta sekä tapauskertomuksia eri kirjoista. Esitelmien pitäjät ovat alan erityisasiantuntijoita professoreista tohtorikoulutettaviin, oman yliopistomme edustajia muutamin kansainvälisin vahvistuksin. Symposiumin päättää Anneli Aejmelaeuksen jäähyväisluento. Continue reading Sisälle Septuagintaan -symposium (ke 28.9. – to 29.9.2016)

CFP: Soisalon-Soininen Symposium on the Septuagint (Helsinki, June 2017)

We are organizing a centennial symposium — Soisalon-Soininen Symposium on the Septuagint — in celebration of the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of our esteemed teacher Professor Ilmari Soisalon-Soininen on 4th June, 2017. Professor Ilmari Soisalon-Soininen did pioneering research on the Septuagint syntax, applying what we call the translation technical method, and was the founding father of Septuagint studies in Finland. The symposium is organised by the courtesy of the Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions (CSTT) funded by the Academy of Finland. The symposium will take place 1-3 June 2017 at the University of Helsinki. The actual symposium will be followed by a small anniversary party on Sunday 4 June at noon.

Keynote speakers are:

JAN JOOSTEN, “Grammar and Style in the Septuagint: On Some Remarkable Uses of Preverbs.”

JAMES K. AITKEN, “Standard Language and the Place of the Septuagint within Koine.”

SILVIA LURAGHI and CHIARA ZANCHI, “New Meanings and Constructions of Prepositions in the Septuagint: a Comparison with Classical and New Testament Greek.”

JOHN A.L. LEE, “Back to the Question of Greek Idiom.”

THEO VAN DER LOUW, “The Dynamics of Segmentation in the Greek Pentateuch.”

RAIJA SOLLAMO, “The Usage of the Article with Nouns Defined by a Nominal Genitive.”

ANNELI AEJMELAEUS, “Translation Technique and the Recensions.”

SEPPO SIPILÄ, “Soisalon-Soininen meets Grice: The Cooperational Principle and the Septuagint Syntax.”

ANSSI VOITILA, “Middle Voice as Depiction of Subject’s Dominion in the Greek Pentateuch.”

We invite proposals for papers to be presented during this symposium. Slots of papers will be 30 minutes (20 minutes presentation, and 10 minutes discussion). The papers should relate to Septuagint syntax, Ilmari Soisalon-Soininen’s research on the topic and / or the Septuagint language as part of the broader development of the Greek language. We ask you to submit your paper proposals with the title and a short abstract not later than 31st October 2016. The papers accepted for presentation will be announced before the end of the year. The symposium webpage (http://blogs.helsinki.fi/soisalon-soininen-centennial) is now opened.

Paper proposals as well as inquiries concerning the symposium should be sent to Anssi Voitila by e-mail to anssi.voitila@uef.fi.

Best regards,
Raija Sollamo, Anneli Aejmelaeus, Seppo Sipilä and Anssi Voitila

Continue reading CFP: Soisalon-Soininen Symposium on the Septuagint (Helsinki, June 2017)

Collaboration is the Key for Preparing a Critical Septuagint Edition: An Interview with Tuukka Kauhanen

(for a Finnish version of this interview, please click here)

The research of changes in ancient texts can be compared to diagnostics. The differences observed in manuscripts are symptoms of conditions or diseases. By observing these symptoms one can reach the causes and find a cure, that is, an answer for the question: what has happened to the text? Continue reading Collaboration is the Key for Preparing a Critical Septuagint Edition: An Interview with Tuukka Kauhanen

Septuagintan Kriittinen Editio Syntyy Yhteistyössä: Haastattelussa Tuukka Kauhanen

(for an English version of this interview, please click here)

Muinaisten tekstien muutosten tutkimusta voi verrata diagnostiikkaan. Käsikirjoituksissa havaitut erot ovat oireita ja merkkejä tiloista tai sairauksista. Oireita tarkkailemalla voi päästä käsiksi erojen syihin ja löytää hoitokeinon eli vastauksen kysymykseen: mitä tekstille on tapahtunut? Continue reading Septuagintan Kriittinen Editio Syntyy Yhteistyössä: Haastattelussa Tuukka Kauhanen

Administrators? Scribes? Soldiers? … Who would make a Bible translation in Ptolemaic Egypt?

By Miika Tucker

The task of locating the social context of the Septuagint translators is like capturing the elusive giant squid from the depths of the ocean, it’s hard to know where to look when you only have a handful of sightings. The most popular account (the letter of Aristeas) might point us in the proper direction (Egypt) but we must be wary of its more elaborate details because most experts consider it to be more of a legend than a factual report.  Continue reading Administrators? Scribes? Soldiers? … Who would make a Bible translation in Ptolemaic Egypt?

Editing the Septuagint of 2 Samuel

by Tuukka Kauhanen

King David

After King Saul has lost in a war with the Philistines, David becomes the king of the tribe of Judah and later of the entire Israel. He makes Jerusalem the capital of the kingdom. Through the words of Prophet Nathan he receives Yahweh’s promise of an eternal kingdom. He wins several wars and expands his kingdom to comprise much of the Southern Levant.  Continue reading Editing the Septuagint of 2 Samuel

Reflections on “From Scribal Error to Rewriting: How (Sacred) Texts May and May Not Be Changed” (Tbilisi, 2015)

by Drew Longacre

Several members of the CSTT had the opportunity to attend the international symposium “From Scribal Error to Rewriting: How (Sacred) Texts May and May Not Be Changed” in Tbilisi, Georgia, from 30 April to 3 May 2015. The symposium was dedicated to the memory of Septuagint scholar Udo Quast and was a fitting memorial for his important work. We were generously hosted by Anna Kharanauli and many colleagues and students from the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.  Continue reading Reflections on “From Scribal Error to Rewriting: How (Sacred) Texts May and May Not Be Changed” (Tbilisi, 2015)

How Ancient Scribes Inserted Larger Passages into Older Texts? Editorial Techniques in Light of Empirical Evidence

by Juha Pakkala

In cooperation with the Faculty of Protestant Theology at the University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster), team three of the CSTT organized a workshop on Editorial Techniques in Light of Empirical Evidence. The workshop was held at Agora, a conference center by the Aasee (Lake Aa), in Münster on March 17-19, 2015.  Continue reading How Ancient Scribes Inserted Larger Passages into Older Texts? Editorial Techniques in Light of Empirical Evidence

Why the Septuagint Can No Longer Be Ignored in Redaction Criticism

by Ville Mäkipelto

The Hebrew Bible is a collection of layered works. Its books in their various forms have been creatively edited and interwoven by ancient redactor-scribes in various historical situations using multiple sources from different time periods. In order to understand these editorial processes and use the texts in reconstructing history, scholars use the method of redaction criticism. Building on the observations of literary criticism (that is ”source criticism”), redaction criticism asks, for example: what is the ideology/theology behind the editing? What has been included or left out in the work and why? What is the community behind the editor(s)? How can the different textual layers be dated?  Continue reading Why the Septuagint Can No Longer Be Ignored in Redaction Criticism