The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The post-Septuagint Bible

"Septuagint" is an abbreviation for the 72 guys who, Aristeas claimed, translated Torah for the Ptolemies in lower Egypt. Whatever Bible those guys translated does indeed seem to be a Ptolemaic-era Bible. But then the Seleucids stormed in and ruined everything. If the Seventy-Two translated beyond Torah, it's questionable whether we have any of that.

Joachim Schaper (a Sephard, presumably) has delivered an interesting article to the Oxford Handbook on the Psalms (2014), "The Septuagint Psalter" (11.173f). Schaper basically trashes his own chapter's title. He claims that this Greek Psalter wasn't done by the Seventy-Two in Egypt, but by Maccabees in - one assumes - Jerusalem. People did speak Greek there; but it was a dialect, and - for instance - Psalm 44:9 [MT 45:9] in saying "baris" only makes sense in that dialect (it's a citadel). So whenever someone sang Psalms 59 [60] or 107 [108] in Greek, or was teaching them to Graecophone Jews, their audience got the Maccabean "reading" of what the Psalm "really" meant.

I am assuming that the Psalter contains no psalms that were composed during the Maccabean / Hasmonean era [pdf].

In a Maccabean reading of the Psalms, wherever there was a King of Israel this was Prophet David predicting Judas the Maccabee. And the revolt did in fact use the Psalms, including one perhaps translated at home - Jewish tradition (Bavli Talmud, Sotah 48a) remembers how under the Seleucia the Levites would sing "Awaken, why dost Thou sleep... my Lord" from 44:23 - either praying for a deliverer, or else riling up the masses. The Maccabean propaganda for that family's claim against the House of David spread to other translations, like Zachariah 14:14. And then 1 Maccabees 7 quoted from these Greek Psalms (78 [79]: 2-3, and not from an independent paraphrase), sealing them into the Maccabean canon.

I got into this because of Greek Psalm 59:10 (Schaper says "8c") = 107:10. It renders the Philistines as allophyloi again, whom - says Schaper - the Maccabean "translator" wants us to see as contemporary Greeks. (I'd been arguing in parallel, Para-Pamphylians; Graecophone Jews might ponder the Seleucids.) I also note that where these psalms are naming names like "Edom" and "Ephraim" and "Moab", the Greek breaks formation where it notes "allophyloi" rather than MT's פְלֶשֶׁת. Going to look up if we have MT Psalm 60:10 / 108:10 in Qumran... * alas, 4Q171 / 4QpPsa is a pesher only on vv. 8-9.

Any pre-Maccabean witness to "Philistim" outside Torah and outside its fanfic remains circumstantial. But I am leaning back to this evidence as not weak, at least not as weak as I'd been led to believe lately. I reassert on this here blog that "allophyloi" is a post-Maccabean interpretation of original Hebrew "philistim". Some day I expect this stance to be brought back to Wikipedia. (Although I might not be the man to do it.)

UPDATE 7/9/16: Orthodox corruption of Psalm 130.


posted by Zimri on 19:08 | link | 0 comments

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