How good is Septuagint as a translation of Hebrew Scripture?

From: Moon-Ryul Jung (
Date: Sat Feb 27 1999 - 01:02:47 EST

Many thanks for the answers to my previous question on the location of
chapter 26 of MSS in Septuagint. It was chapter 33 in LXX. I read it, and
found out that the translation was unacceptably literal to me. For example,
the waw-relative with imperfective and the waw-relative with
perfective form are translated to "KAI + perfect or aorist", and to
"KAI + future". So, the waw is mapped to KAI one to one. It seems that the
LXX translators disregard the discourse function of waw in wayyiqtol or
wqtl forms. I read that the LXX translators were Jew,
who spoke Greek. From this I, as a novice in this field, would draw the
following tentative conclusions. I would be thankful if you make some
comments on them.

1. The range of meaning/function of KAI is much broader than
  that of English "and", and can cover the range of meaning/function
   of Hebrew WAW. I remember I read that "X KAI Y" may be translated to
   "X, namely (or even) Y". Here Y is taken to explain X. One of the
   functions of wayyiqtol form is to explain the previous statement.
   But can KAI be used to state the logical or temporal
    consequence of the previous statement like wayyiqtol form can?
   If so, this first conclusion seems plausible. I would like to
    draw conclusions that respect those translators who knew Hebrew
    being Jew and spoke Greek as a living language.

2. Even if those translators knew that mapping WAW to KAI did not produce
   meaning preserving Greek, they thought that making the translation
    as close to the original Scripture was appropriate. This conclusion
    is odd at the fact that some translation in LXX are quite free. But
    some translators might have thought that literal translation was
    good, while others did not.


Moon-Ryul Jung, Ph.D
Dept of Computer Science,
Soongsil University
Seoul, Korea

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