From: Hultberg, Alan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Sep 14 1998 - 17:34:53 EDT
Thank you for your astute reply. I'm glad we tended to agree.
I'm sorry I haven't the text of your letter to which to respond (things get
deleted pretty quickly, and so occassionally inadvertantly, around here), and
that forces me to send this only to the list and to you personally as well,
but I would like to clarify a few points with which you took issue.
1) By "classical" Greek I don't mean (as I think you mistook) extra-biblical
*koine* but Greek of the classical period (say Homer to Alexander), chiefly
Attic in our sources from what I understand (I'm certainly no classicist). I,
and I'm sure I'm not alone, still maintain that the use of a term in
Herodotus, e.g., is less telling for NT lexicology than is the use of the
term in *koine*. I believe the original question to which I responded
specifically asked about classical Greek (which I understood to mean Greek
from this period) vs. the LXX; perhaps not the best way to frame question but
a good question nonetheless.
2) With regard to synchronic vs. diachronic analysis: lexicographers do indeed
utilize both, but when determining the meaning of a word *in a text* I still
contend that it is synchronic analysis and not diachronic with which we
primarily have to do. To repeat myself, one is usually not aware of the
history of a term when one uses it, nor does one usually expect another to
draw upon a word's history in order to be understood. It is current usage
that is most important.
3) Certainly the LXX is a variegated document, with many different
"translation" styles/techniques (not all in the LXX, of course, being
translation) and evidencing various commands of Greek. Certainly some of the
Greek compositions especially show the influence of the larger Greek culture.
I treated the text as a monolithic phenomenon, which it is not, and your
corrective is well-appreciated. My point, however, was especially in the
context of the original question (LXX vs. classics) and was intended to convey
that the LXX IMHO is the sub-text *par excellence* to the NT.
Would you agree or not? I'd very much appreciate your views.
>1) It is a standard dictum in NT lexicology that classical usage of a word is
>virtually irrelevant unless that usage manifestly influences the word's use
>the first century. (And so with any language. If you are trying to find out
>what a word meant in a given utterance, among other things, you analyse usage
>contemporary with the utterance; you do synchronic, or "contemporary,"
>analysis, not diachronic, "historical" or "evolutionary," analysis. Most
>users of a word aren't in the least aware of its history and don't intend to
>have that history drawn upon in order to be understood.)
>2) It is beyond doubt that the writers of the NT are often influenced by LXX
>idiom. These are people who belong to (and are for the most part writing to)
>a group for whom the LXX is THE authoritative text, and recourse to the LXX
>often thus proves more enlightening to the NT scholar than does recourse to
>extra-biblical texts, especially in the case of theologically-charged (from
>the NT perspective) words.
>3) This is not to say that extra-biblical texts are irrelevant to the NT
>scholar; the NT authors are writing *koine* after all (indeed, the LXX itself
>is in *koine* and generally agrees with popular usage). But it is to say
>the overwhelming Septuagintal influence in the NT is already demonstrable,
>thus inherently plausible in new cases, whereas the plausibility of a NT
>author using a word in an extra-biblical sense that is at variance with the
>LXX needs to be established on a case by case basis.
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