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I'm wondering if anyone can recommend a really good translation of both? I'm waiting for the Eastern Orthodox Bible, which will have a new translation of the Septuagint which will supposedly be REALLY good, but I'm wondering if anyone has any other recommendations?
Oops... posted something, but then someone pointed out to me that this is being discussed at CAF. I'll leave it to them!
(08-03-2013, 01:28 AM)Euthymius Wrote: [ -> ]Oops... posted something, but then someone pointed out to me that this is being discussed at CAF. I'll leave it to them!

Well, you could have kept the post anyway, haha. I don't mind.
No, I think the folks at CAF have done a pretty good job with this one, and it would be crazy to hold two ongoing discussions about it simultaneously. As regards the Septuagint, I wrote (a) that Brenton was KJV-based and the NETS was NRSV-based; (b) that each had its problems, but that both were quite valuable; © that the NKJV-based Orthodox Study Bible had more serious problems but was also useful in certain limited ways; and (d) that on current evidence the Eastern Orthodox Bible is unlikely to be an improvement on the existing translations, though it too may be a useful supplement. That’s just about what CAF said.

But if you do want more--and especially if you want a few distinctively traditionalist comments, to supplement what has been said at CAF--I’d add this.

To a traditionalist, Brenton has an advantage over the NETS in one small respect.

Brenton translated the classic Sixtine edition of the Septuagint, which came from the same stable as the Clementine Vulgate and is a showpiece of late 16th century textual scholarship. Every reading in it comes from ancient manuscripts (mainly Codex Vaticanus), so it closely reflects the traditional Septuagint text known to the Fathers.

The NETS translates modern critical texts constructed by scholars on non-religious principles. In some places, these scholars have set aside the text of all known ancient manuscripts and replaced it by a modern conjectural emendation with no basis in tradition.

Let me cite one tiny example. In Lamentations 4:21 Brenton, following the Sixtine edition, reads: “the anointed Lord.” In other words, the anointed (Greek Christos) is identified with the Lord (Greek Kurios). That’s the text of all known Greek manuscripts, and it’s the text known to the Fathers, who interpreted the passage as a prophecy of the Christ.

However, modern scholars believe that nobody writing before the time of Christ could have identified the Christos with the Kurios. They believe that the existing text must have been constructed later by a Christian scribe trying to make it seem as though there were Christian prophecies in the Old Testament. Therefore, they set aside the text of all the manuscripts, and substitute a modern conjectural emendation: Christos Kuriou, “the Lord’s anointed.” Thus emended, the Christos becomes a different person from the Kurios. That’s what you’ll see translated in the NETS (and, incidentally, the Orthodox Study Bible).

I should emphasize that this is only a small issue, because it affects only a small number of passages. In most places Brenton and the NETS say exactly the same thing, as you’ll readily see.

(Off topic: What does the original Hebrew of Lamentations 4:21 say? It’s beautifully ambivalent. It can be read either “the anointed Lord” or “the Lord’s anointed.” But Greek, like English, has to make a choice one way or the other.)

I put these in a different post because I personally would regard them as standing on a very different footing from the Septuagint, as regards importance and authority. They were written by a small heretical cult, not unlike some of the modern Protestant cults. Throughout history many such cults have prepared their own editions of the Bible and their own religious writings. They're fascinating documents for the historian of religion, but I personally wouldn't consult them to learn or advance in the faith.

On one small point I part company with the CAF comments. CAF spoke highly of the Abegg-Flint-Ulrich translation of the DSS Biblical scrolls. A few years ago my work required me to study some of the DSS Biblical scrolls, and I must say I was extremely disappointed with the Abegg-Flint-Ulrich renderings. I found a surprising number of basic errors in them, and also many places where AFU had simply reproduced (unacknowledged!) the translations in the very earliest scholarly editions of the scrolls, without noticing the same scholars’ subsequent corrections and improvements. There’s a much better translation of the DSS Biblical scrolls currently appearing in French, and I would guess that we’ll soon have better things in English too.

I can’t comment on the relative merits of English versions of the non-Biblical DSS.

Hope this is some use.
Very interesting! And yes, I was hoping for a couple more traditionalist comments when it came to the documents. I did purchase the AFU renderings of the Dead Sea Scrolls however. Maybe I should have purchased the Geza one as well, if it would have been of any use.

Any comments about the other Apocrypha translations that were mentioned?
As far as my knowledge goes, I’d agree with CAF on the subject of Geza Vermes. And in any case, I don’t think Vermes ever translated the Biblical DSS. For those, I think AFU is the only English version so far. And, of course, it’s quite cheap. View it as a convenient stopgap until we get something more accurate (and, hopefully, less totally modernist in outlook... though that may be asking too much!).

The translations of the Pseudepigrapha and NT Apocrypha listed on CAF are certainly the best available. I can’t say anything about translations of the Gnostic Scriptures, because they’re done from Coptic, which isn’t one of my languages.

Trying to look at these works from a traditionalist perspective:

The Gnostic Scriptures: Gnosticism was recognized as a heresy by the Church from the very start. (Even within the New Testament itself, St. Paul and St. John were already refuting the roots of the trouble.) I believe, therefore, that in the eyes of the Church, these books are in exactly the same basket as other home-made Scriptures manufactured by known heretics, such as the Book of Mormon or the writings of Mary Baker Eddy.

The New Testament Apocrypha: similar comments here. All these books were decisively rejected by the early Church. The author of one (the Acts of Paul and Thecla) was discovered and firmly disciplined by the Church. I don’t recall any of the Fathers who took any of these writings seriously. They’re of interest simply as documents in religious history.

The Pseudepigrapha are in a slightly different situation. Any Pseudepigrapha scholar who speaks on the subject begins by stressing that this is just a mixed grab-bag collection of assorted ancient religious writings that don’t have anything much in common except the fact that they don’t fit anywhere else.

So, in my personal opinion, looking at the Pseudepigrapha is like looking at a mixed grab-bag of religious writings from any other era. It’s like surfing the internet today. You see some things that are promoting blatant heresy, but others (probably not very many, alas!) that are perfectly orthodox. You see some things that are obvious fakes & forgeries, but others that appear quite honest & accurate (at least as far as you can tell).

Most of the Pseudepigrapha never circulated in the West because they were never translated into Latin, but in the East a few of them were consistently respected by those Fathers who had access to them.

3 Maccabees would be an example of that. All modernists dismiss it outright because it’s full of miracles, and everyone “knows” that miracles have never happened. I myself, when I first read it, thought it outrageously implausible. Nevertheless, it’s quite orthodox doctrinally, as everyone recognizes. And in recent decades, scholarly research (by modernists!) has demolished, one after another, all the old criticisms of its historicity. So, at the very least, it’s an edifying story to read; and at most, it may be an essentially accurate report of a historical episode. (Outrageously implausible things do happen--all the time; every newspaper is full of them.)

I don’t mean that every book in the Pseudepigrapha is like 3 Maccabees. On the contrary, I’d say that the ratio of orthodoxy to heresy there looks much the same as it does on the internet today... depressingly low. But there seem to be a few frail lights in the midst of the darkness, and those few deserve to be treated with respect.

Final comment: the Pseudepigrapha overlap slightly with the contents of the Septuagint, i.e. a few of the Pseudepigrapha are traditionally printed in editions of the Septuagint. And those few are likely to be the best ones, because they’re the ones that were honored by the Fathers (including 3 Maccabees). The rest of the Pseudepigrapha--those that are in Charlesworth’s big 2-volume collection but not in either Brenton’s Septuagint or NETS--didn’t attract the same respect in ancient times, and are unlikely to be read with much profit today.